by Nick Gromicko, Kate Tarasenko and Kenton Shepard
Should an inspector be judged by what he/she wears? Perhaps not, but the reality is that proper attire is an important part of an inspector's success. An inspector's core product is him/herself, and the product should be packaged professionally. Below are some tips for inspectors:
Never arrive to an inspection in dirty clothes. It is fine for clothes to get dirty during the inspection because the customer expects this to happen.
Consider bringing coveralls or a Tyvek® suit. They will keep your clothing from getting dirty while you crawl through attics and crawlspaces.
If you have more than one inspection scheduled for the day, consider bringing a change of clothes, or at least a fresh shirt.
Consider dressing up a bit (by perhaps wearing a tie) when working in more expensive neighborhoods, and dressing casually in more modest neighborhoods.
Dress for the type of property. Inspecting a horse farm may require boots. A dentist's office may require shoe covers.
Dress for the climate. Shorts are fine in southern and beach areas but are often not adequate in cooler, northern climates.
Cut-off jeans and gym shorts are not appropriate. Nicer shorts with pockets to hold inspection equipment are acceptable.
Khakis or jeans can both be appropriate, depending on the client base.
Tank tops are never appropriate on an inspection.
T-shirts are generally not recommended unless they sport an inspection-related logo or your inspection company's name.
Polo and collared shirts are fine, as are sports jackets.
Sports teams, political or pop-culture printed t-shirts are never appropriate. Such messages and images can passively offend clients.
A suit is not appropriate, as it implies that you are not dressed to inspect crawlspaces. A rare exception is made for leaders of multiple inspection teams.
It is acceptable for inspection clothes to be loose-fitting. Inspection requires a great deal of reaching, climbing and crawling -- activities that will be made more difficult by tight or restrictive clothing.
Shoes should be lace-up and rugged. Laces ensure that feet will not slip out of the shoes. Inspectors should be prepared for a dirty and strenuous job.
In warmer climates or on summer days, you can wear clean tennis shoes or boat shoes.
Outside of beach towns, open-toed sandals are not appropriate, even in summer.
Female inspectors should not, of course, wear dresses or high heels.
Bring an extra pair of shoes. Boots or work shoes can be swapped for a nice pair of slippers or sneakers before entering living areas. Never track mud, roofing tar or pet droppings into a home. Also, some customs require the removal of shoes and hats upon entry.
Before an inspection, make sure you have:
brushed your teeth, flossed, and used mouthwash;
trimmed your nails;
shaved or trimmed your beard, if you have one;
combed your hair; and
applied deodorant. Also, go easy on the cologne/perfume.
Between inspections, freshen up with a travel bag that contains:
a hand mirror (or a camping mirror);
a comb or brush;
chewing gum (preferably a minty or otherwise sanitizing flavor);
a spare bag for dirtied clothing; and
wet-naps or waterless hand cleanser to clean and sanitize your hands before meeting with the client.
In summary, InterNACHI inspectors should carefully consider how they are perceived by their clients. Clothing and hygiene can create impressions that are as valuable to repeat business as the quality of the inspection. Remember: You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression.