21 Home Inspector Tools of the Trade
Whether you’re a new or seasoned home inspector, the right tools will help you do your job more efficiently and more effectively. These 21 tools have been staples of my home inspection tool bag for years. In fact, they’ve been used in more than 2,000 home inspections!
Here’s a rundown of my picks plus a few tips on shopping for the best home inspector tools on a budget.
#1 – Tape Measure
A good tape measure, whether it’s a well-functioning manual tape measure or a laser measure, helps you quickly measure specific areas and note them in your inspection report.
#2 – Telescoping Mirror
A lightweight telescoping mirror helps you easily and safely see into confined areas and higher areas. I also use one to check for dangerous down-drafting with atmospheric gas water heaters.
#3 – Voltage Tester
A non-contact voltage tester helps you identify live electrical wiring, such as old knob-and-tube wiring that might be present in an attic.
#4 – AFCI/GFCI Circuit Tester
This type of electrical tester tests and ensures arc-fault and ground-fault circuit interrupter devices are working.
#5 – Two-Prong Outlet Tester
While newer homes usually have 3-prong GFCI outlets throughout, you might still come across two-pronged circuits in older homes. A two-prong tester helps you quickly test and confirm the voltage.
#6 – Rechargeable, Battery-Powered Screwdriver
Using a rechargeable, battery-powered screwdriver speeds up the process of removing electrical panels. These panels often have six screws that are time-consuming to remove and can hurt your wrist when removed with a regular screwdriver.
#7 – 11-in-1 Screwdriver
I typically carry an 11-in-1 screwdriver as a backup. This type of screwdriver has interchangeable parts and functions as 11 tools in one.
#8 – Dual Probe Digital Thermometer
A dual probe digital infrared thermometer takes quick temperature readings of HVAC ductwork outlets, air return vents, water temperature, and surface temperature.
#9 – Non-Invasive Moisture Meter
This type of moisture meter is ideal for checking moisture stains. You’ll need to determine if the stain is the result of an active moisture issue (and mold issue) or not.
#10 – Pocket Knife
Occasionally, I find a service panel that is painted around the edges. While I’m not required to, I will carefully trace around the edges of the panel using my X-ACTO Knife and neatly remove it.
#11 – Small Infrared Camera
I mainly use this camera in homes that have radiant floor heating, baseboard heaters, and/or radiators to confirm they are working properly.
#12 – Carbon Monoxide Detector
I have a pocket-sized carbon monoxide detector that clips onto my shirt. I’ll turn it on before I walk into a home for an inspection. If the device goes off, I’ll know that there are unsafe levels of carbon monoxide present.
#13 – LED Flashlight
I use a high-powered rechargeable LED flashlight to get a good look into dark spaces. My flashlight attaches conveniently to my belt clip. An LED headlamp is also helpful for hands-free inspections in attics and crawl spaces.
#14 – Gas Leak Detection Solution
For many years, I used an electronic combustible gas detector to identify natural gas leaks in pipes, but I’ve since found a more cost-conscious tool. Now I use a gas leak detection solution that produces large bubbles when it detects a leak. An entire bottle is $8 compared to $150 for an electronic version that needs to be calibrated yearly.
#15 – Binoculars
A good pair of binoculars helps you see the blind spots on a roof and around chimneys without walking the roof.
#16 – Tool Pouch
I keep my tools in a tool pouch that attaches to my belt and allows me to be hands-free. It’s a good idea to use one that has a strap to close the pouch, so you don’t lose any tools when you’re climbing up a ladder or moving through a crawl space.
#17 – Ladder
I use a 17-foot ladder and it’s the only ladder I carry. Other types of ladders—like telescoping, extending, articulating, and combination ladders—are popular with some home inspectors. It’s all up to you.
#18 – Drop Cloth
Things can get messy when inspecting attics. I keep a drop cloth on hand to catch dirt and loose insulation that may fall to the ground or get on my clothes.
#19 – Level
I keep both a 6-foot level and a 4-foot level on hand to check if walls or floors are level or bowing at any point.
#20 – Protective Gear
Protective gear is important. I usually have knee pads with me to help with comfort, as well as a respiratory mask, latex gloves, and safety glasses.
#21 – Indoor Shoes
I always have clean, indoor-only shoes with me so I can minimize the dirt I’m tracking inside a client’s home. You can also use shoe covers instead.
How to Choose the Best Home Inspection Tools on a Budget
As you’re shopping for tools, read reviews from sites like Amazon and Home Depot to gauge their quality. I like to stick with brands that stand behind their products and have a solid warranty and replacement policy. Price shop among these brands and find the tool that will work best for you.
Keep in mind that you can always start by buying a home inspector toolkit to get all the basic tools you need and add-on tools or upgrade overtime.
Learn the Tools of the Trade and More with AHIT Home Inspection Training
Learn the standard procedures of home inspection and understand the tools every home inspector needs with AHIT home inspection training. Find out your state license requirements and get a step-by-step guide for becoming a home inspector in your state.