How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What tools do you use for a home inspection?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Okay, we admit it: we are tool geeks, and bring more equipment to a home inspection than is usually necessary. Having just the right inspection gadget helps unravel those tough-to-figure-out defect mysteries that vex us at least once a week.

   We both have a set of carry-around tools, plus a selection of specialized tools pulled from the truck as necessary. Because Greg is primarily working with the home’s site, foundation, wall and roof structure, and roof covering, while Richard is evaluating the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, we each have a different tool set, with a few overlaps.

Greg’s carry-around tools:

Flashlight, tape measure, large pocketknife, pocket multi-tool, moisture meter, digital thermometer (testing kitchen appliance and water temperatures), pocket magnifying glass, roll of blue tape (for marking areas noted in report), adjustable extension mirror with light, steel ball (identifying sloping floors), magnet, and digital camera.

Richard’s carry-around tools:

Flashlight, long screwdriver, small multi-tip screwdriver and set of assorted drivers, 12V battery-powered drill-driver, tape measure, pocketknife, roll of blue tape, channel-lock and needle-nose pliers, adjustable extension mirror with light, hand trowel, lighter stick, small magnifying glass, tic-tracer (identifies live circuits), digital probe thermometer (for testing HVAC equipment), WD-40 lubricant, torpedo level, water pressure gauge, 3-light receptacle tester, digital wiring inspection tester (checks voltage, voltage drop under load, circuit wiring, resistance to ground), infrared thermometer, multimeter (tests circuits), laser level, digital level, and electronic gas detector (finds gas leaks).

Tools we carry in the truck: 

Infrared camera (finds and photographs evidence of hidden moisture, missing insulation, leaking a/c ducts), video borescope (looks behind walls and in confined spaces), wet-vac (cleans up occasional spills), septic tank probe, water meter tool, bolt cutters, knee-pads, gloves, Zircon Multiscanner (used for finding nail spacing in framing and locating steel in concrete), UV flashlight (identifying rodent urine), gaff, 6-foot ladder, 8-foot ladder, 22-foot extension ladder.

Then there's the on-board attachments: 

These come standard on every human. We use our noses to sniff out pockets of mold and cigarette-smoke contamination. Fingertips are the final authority on evaluating wetness, and our feet sense sloping floors and the bounce underfoot caused by undersized or termite-eaten floor framing. 

    Also, see our blog post How do devious sellers try to fool the home inspector?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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