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Field inspection is an interesting career path that I came across recently. The type of inspections may include vehicle, business equipment, residential and commercial properties. They are usually required by financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.
To my understanding, the idea is to confirm the condition of the properties as they could be collateralized or insured items.
But what is it really like to be a field inspector? To have a better understanding, I have a one-on-one interview with Chelle Stuart.
Chelle is a field inspector in Davenport, Washington. She has extensive experience and started working in the inspection industry since 2013.
In this interview, she will share what it is like to work in the field inspection industry, how she started, her work routine, and earnings figures for each assignment.
I’m sure you will benefit tremendously from this incredible interview.
Here are Some Interesting Facts about Chelle Stuart
Prior to becoming a field inspector, she worked in the insurance field for many years. This allows her to understand the risks that insurance firms face, thus, leading her to produce detailed inspection reports.
Many inspectors that I have met have no such related experience. Chelle’s work experience in the insurance field undoubtedly is a valuable asset to her inspection business.
Here’s our Exclusive Interview with Chelle Stuart
To start off, can you please tell us about yourself?
I grew up and graduated from Post Falls but have worked and lived in Spokane for many years. I began my career working for Farmers Insurance at the age of 20 and spent 18 years as both an Agency Manager and Licensed Insurance Agent.
While I was an Agency Manager, I wanted to learn more about business insurance from the clients’ point of view as far as contractors, so I began doing bank inspections on new home construction loans.
As I retired from doing insurance, I continued doing inspections. Over the years, I have taken on different types of inspections such as vehicle dealer lots, farm equipment for John Deere, lease return vehicles, and liability inspections.
Being a Field Inspector has allowed me the freedom to arrange my work schedule and the ability to travel. Though the primary reason I like this profession is the amount of time, I can give my family.
Now, moving on to your field inspection business. Can you please let us know the role of a field inspector? Why would companies need the inspection services?
The purpose of field inspections is to identify potential hazards for an insurance company. For example, in the field of construction, it is to provide an impartial evaluation as to the condition of a building or property.
Most of the work I perform is for bank loan draw requests. My goal is to verify work completed by a contractor in order to satisfy their draw request for payment from the bank.
Can you please walk us through what are your regular duties as an inspector?
Depending on what the bank is requiring, inspections consist of doing a walk-through of the site, documenting interior and exterior photos, and verifying percentage of completion if it applies to a new home construction draw request.
Once the site inspection has been completed, I would update the report, attach photos and submit them to the bank for review.
Essentially we are verifying the completion of items that a contractor is requesting a draw request for.
Is there any education, training, or license requirement to become a field inspector?
Depending on which companies you contract with. You must have a high school diploma, experience in the field (my extensive insurance background was acceptable), knowledge, and certification of construction types and terms.
When you first started, how did you gain trust from clients and find job orders?
Since I was already doing insurance, I had a lot of contacts with banks, lenders and I also used websites like www.sofi.us, which is the Society of Field Inspectors Inc.
They provide free listings for inspectors that lenders can seek out when they need jobs in any state in the US.
Some companies seek out and recruit you, and as you do more inspections, you gain more experience. There has never seemed to be a lot of field inspectors available in my area, so I can be working for up to five or six companies at one time.
What is your typical workday?
My day begins at 6:30. I take my son to school at 8:00 then start my day. I spend about an hour reading and responding to emails, logging into companies that I’m contracted with to review assignments I may have, and begin to map out my day.
I make calls to clients to verify inspection times and make sure I have access to the site before arriving.
If I have received new assignment requests, I review the requirements and distance prior to accepting. Often when I have out-of-town inspections, I will group them together. On some occasions, they may even require me to be gone overnight.
However, 95% of my business is done locally within 50 miles of my home base. Once I’ve completed an inspection site, I have two options, upload my report on-site or wait until I’m back at my office.
Depending on the type of inspection, it’s best to upload it from my home office so I can spend more time on my report. Uploading on-site is generally done for a rush request from the bank.
I typically do 1-6 inspections in one day. Lease return vehicle inspections are the quickest, which allows me to do more in one day. I try to schedule all of my inspections to be completed within 48 hours or less.
Do you mind sharing with us how much is the approximate fee for a job order? And usually, how long does it take to complete each job?
It truly depends on the company I’m contracting with. Fees can range from $13 for a drive-by inspection up to $150 for a commercial building inspection. Some companies pay for mileage, while others do not.
Drive-by inspections pay the least and are the quickest to do, about 5-10 minutes with report uploading times. Commercial buildings take the longest, anywhere from 24 hours, depending on how complete the inspection is.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to explore the field inspection career?
Do your research when looking for companies to contract with. Stay up to date on your education and construction knowledge, and enjoy what you do!
If you were to go back in time, is there anything you would do differently in this profession?
I don’t believe I would change anything. I have had a very fulfilling career in the industry. I’ve enjoyed learning the field and working with so many great companies out there.
I didn’t really have anyone to show me the ropes at the beginning, so being a motivated self-starter helped. But aside from that, I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. I’m happy with the path I’ve walked.
Many self-employed business owners are very dedicated to building their practice. What are some things you like to do in your spare time to balance out the work stress?
Family is my first priority, then my community. I volunteer my time at Horizon Hospice as a vigil volunteer, and I also volunteer with Catholic Charities. Giving back to my community gives me the greatest reward. During the summer months, my family and I love to kayak, go camping, and ride our ATV for fun. Any time with family is great stress relief!
Thanks for all the incredible sharing, Chelle. Before I let you go, please let us know how our readers can reach you if they want to know more about your field inspection services?
That’s a lot of awesome sharing! I hope you learn a great deal in this interview. Because I surely did.
If you enjoy having a dynamic nature in your daily work life, being a field inspector is worth consideration. You get to meet different people, work on different types of inspections and drive around to different places.
Throughout the interview, Chelle has been responding to all my inquiries very promptly. I believe such efficient communication is a great attribute to her success in the field inspection business.
And as Chelle said, stay up to date on your education and knowledge is an essential step to equip yourself in the field inspection business.
During the interview, Chelle has mentioned more than once that she loves the freedom this occupation brings to her. She gets to arrange her work schedule so she won’t miss out on important moments with her family.
Once again, I thank Chelle for taking the time to give this interview and share such an incredible journey and experiences with us. I wish her all the best and continued success in the field inspection business.
If you would like to know more about what it is like to be a field inspector, here’s an article you would be interested. In there, you will find out the different types of inspection assignments and the earning figures of this profession.
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