Inspector Attire

by Nick Gromicko, CMI®, 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's fine for clothes to get dirty during the inspection because your client expects this to happen.  
  • Consider keeping a pair of coveralls or a Tyvek® suit in your work vehicle. 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 clothing, or at least a fresh shirt.
  • Dress appropriately for the type of property. Inspecting a horse farm may require boots. A dentist's office may require shoe covers.
  • Dress for the climate. Cargo shorts (modest length, and with plenty of pockets) are fine in southern and beach areas but are often not adequate in cooler, northern climates.
  • Khakis or jeans can both be appropriate, depending on the client base.
  • Tank tops and sleeveless tees are never appropriate to wear on an inspection.
  • T-shirts are generally not recommended unless they sport an inspection-related logo or your inspection company's name. 
  • T-shirts that have sports teams logos, or political or pop-culture references or images are never appropriate. Such messages and images can passively offend clients.  And they simply look unprofessional on the job.
  • Polo shirts and collared work shirts are fine, especially if they sport your own company logo or the InterNACHI®/CPI or CMI® logo.
  • A suit or dress/skirt is not appropriate, as it implies that you are not dressed to inspect. A rare exception is for leaders of multi-inspector teams.  
  • If you want to dress up a bit for the consultation portion of your inspection, that's fine, but be prepared for a quick change in case part of that appointment includes actually inspecting.
  • 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. Lace-up shoes or boots ensure that your feet will not slip out of your 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.  
  • Open-toed sandals are not appropriate, even in summer, and even in beach towns.
  • Female inspectors should not, of course, wear shoes with heels.
  • Neither gender should be sporting flashy or excessive jewelry.  It looks unprofessional in terms of the work you need to perform, and it could pose a safety hazard, such as a dangling wristwatch or bracelet, earrings, or a necklace that isn't tucked inside your shirt, all of which can get caught on something while you're inspecting.
  • Bring an extra pair of shoes. Boots or work shoes can be swapped for a clean 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.   You could also use shoe booties:
Personal Hygiene:
  • Before an inspection, make sure you have:
    • showered;
    • brushed your teeth, flossed, and used mouthwash;
    • trimmed your nails;
    • shaved or trimmed your beard, if you have one; 
    • combed your hair (and tied it back, if it's longer); 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);
    • mouthwash;
    • deodorant; 
    • 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.
Find out which inspector (above) most represents the way other inspectors dress.  Contribute to our poll and message board thread on the topic of inspector attire.