I’ve put together a tool list for my inspectors. I’ve shared this tool list on home inspection discussion forums so many times that I decided I should put it on my website in the form of a blog post. This is definitely not a must-have tool list for all home inspectors, but it is for the inspectors in my company.
Specialized, expensive home inspection equipment
• Combustible Gas Detector – I prefer the TIF8900. See A comparison of three gas sniffers.
• Infrared Camera – See FLIR E6: the best infrared camera for home inspectors.
• Pin-probe moisture meter – See Protimeter Surveymaster: The best moisture meter for home inspectors.
• Non-contact moisture meter – See above. The Surveymaster does both.
• Combustion Analyzer that also measures CO – My preference is the Testo 310. It’s extremely durable and the battery lasts forever.
• 28’ Extension Ladder
• Adjustable ladder – I’ve always used a 17’ Little Giant, but some of my inspectors prefer the Xtend+Climb ladder.
• Super-powerful flashlight, backup flashlight – see This home inspector’s update on flashlights. I’ve been using the Fenix TK35 since 2011 and it’s still my favorite.
• Digital camera – see Camera buying advice for home inspectors.
• Cordless drill/driver – see Milwaukee M12 FUEL™ 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver.
• ¼” drill bit – for CO testing.
• Inspection mirror – something like this.
• Furnace inspection mirror – this is a long, skinny piece of mirror with ground edges. I have a glass shop make them for my inspectors. The mirrors are 1-1/4″ wide x 12″ long. I use this mirror to inspect heat exchangers on old furnaces, sub-slab ductwork, the undersides of composite siding… lots of stuff. It’s a great tool that I use even more than my inspection mirror. I keep it inside of a short length of PVC. See the photo at right.
• Tape measure – my current favorite is the Milwaukee magnetic tape measure.
• Screwdriver with numerous bits – two great options are the MegaPro or the Milwaukee 10-in-1.
• 4’ Level
• Torpedo level – for convenience.
• Tool Bag – Get a rolling tool bag. All of this equipment is heavy.
• Wearable tool pouch(es)
• Awl/ice pick/probing tool – an old screwdriver taken to a bench grinder works well. I tend to lose mine, but replacements are always free.
• Utility knife
• Putty knife
• Longnose pliers
• Half-mask respirator – every attic, no exceptions. The 3M 07193 mask is good, but the ‘Bane’ mask is much smaller, and better suited for home inspections: GVS SPR457
• Socket set – because you never know.
• Thermometer – preferably the meat probe style. I like the DeltaTRAK jumbo display.
• Aluminum tape, UL listed – for covering a test hole in a gas appliance vent, and other miscellaneous stuff.
• Blue painters tape – clients can use this to mark cosmetic items during new-construction inspections.
• Yellow electrical tape – for marking the exact locations of gas leaks.
• Black permanent marker – for marking the yellow tape.
• Butane lighter with a long wand – for lighting pilots.
• Drop cloths or painters poly (.35 mil) – to place below attic access panels. Never, ever, ever leave a mess.
• Indoor shoes
• Work gloves
• Clean gloves – for lifting white attic access panels. Never leave fingerprints.
• Rubber overshoes or rain boots – a must for muddy new-construction job sites.
• Rain gear – including a spare umbrella for clients.
• Cold weather gear – get Baffin boots. Your feet will thank you.
• Crawlspace gear – coveralls or grubby clothes to change into.
• Non-contact voltage tester – Get the Fluke 2AC almost a year ago. It’s always on, I’m still on my first set of batteries, and it won’t get set off by low-voltage stuff that I don’t care about. Also, this only detects voltage at 90 volts and above, which is what we’re concerned with. Other voltage testers will be more prone to false positives.
• Two-lead voltage tester – I recommend the GET-3100.
• Three-prong outlet tester – the Amprobe ST-102B feels good in your hand.
• Clamp electrical meter – for testing hot circuits identified with an infrared camera. See Using an infrared camera to find an overloaded circuit. This device should also double also a multimeter for those times when you’re really curious about something.
• Water pressure gauge – infrequently used, but necessary to determine excess pressure when suspected.
• Gas leak detection solution – this is the only acceptable method for reporting a gas leak.
• Shower dam – for testing tiled showers. We make our own shower dams. See the photo at right.
• Water hardness test strips – for testing water softeners. We use the Hach Total Hardness Test Strips.
• Flexseal – for repairing any and all plumbing leaks identified during the home inspection. Just kidding. This one isn’t on our real list.
Optional, recommended equipment
• Backup camera – a mobile phone camera will work in a pinch, but they don’t have the same zoom or flash capability.
• Headlamp – highly recommended for attic inspections. I bought a cheap $12 headlamp on a whim over three years ago, and the dang thing won’t quit on me. It’s bright as all get-out and uses the same 18650 batteries as all of my flashlights. It’s the best $12 I’ve ever spent. It’s no longer available on Amazon, but I found another one that looks to be way better for about $18: 6000 lumen CREE headlamp
• Extra three-prong outlet tester
• Bolt Cutters – padlocked electrical panel? Padlocked crawlspace? Call the seller’s agent and get permission to gain access. If permission is granted, complete the inspection.
• Various pliers/wrenches – you never know.
• Open-end pliers, various sizes – again, you never know.
• Hammer – a wise home inspector once told me that whatever I’m planning to do with a hammer during a home inspection is probably a bad idea. He was probably right. Still, I keep one in my truck. I would have made a great Boy Scout.
• Mini pry-bar – like the Vaughan 222CS. For whatever. It’s super handy.
• Large flat bar
• Vinyl siding zip-tool – to easily take a peek behind vinyl siding.
• Pipe wrench
• Safety glasses
• Hard hat – sometimes required by builders for new construction and pre-drywall inspections.
• Flat rubber drain stopper – for testing tubs and sinks.
• Vacuum – I’m tempted to move this to the ‘required’ category. Almost everyone in my company uses the Milwaukee M12 cordless vacuum. This is such a great little tool that I bought a second one just to keep in my basement.
• Microwave tester – a cup of water works just fine to confirm that a microwave is capable of warming stuff up, but a microwave tester looks cooler.
• Charging battery – in case your infrared camera battery is dead, or your Testo battery, or similar equipment.
• GearKeeper tether – never lose your three-prong outlet tester again, never have to dig for it again. Always have it readily accessible, even when wearing big winter gloves. See the photo below.
• Glass suction cup – for crank-out windows that won’t close properly. See Glass Suction Cup. Added 5/15/18
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a dynamic tool list that will continue to change, and it isn’t for everyone. I plan to keep this tool list updated as I find newer and better tools. Did I miss any? Do you have any better suggestions? If so, please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!