COVID-19: A Guide for Home Inspectors

(Last updated:  March 25, 2020)

  1. Introduction 

This guide is for home inspectors to help them get through the hurdles they may encounter as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. As we all watch the development of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold with uncertainty, it’s of the utmost importance for members of InterNACHI® to consider the impact it may have for their business and the well-being of their employees and clients, and all the people they come into contact with. Read InterNACHI’s Public Statement on COVID-19.

It is InterNACHI’s position that home inspectors provide an essential service because they ensure people’s health and safety in the home by inspecting for hazards. But it’s important to check your state’s and municipality’s rules in order to be compliant with rapidly changing guidelines and temporary laws enacted to address this emergency.  InterNACHI® will post updates to its website at as information becomes available.

NOTE #1:  Health and safety are always the most important, without exception.

  1. What Is COVID-19? 

In short, it’s a respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spreading worldwide and poses a serious public health threat. It has affected both healthy individuals and people already battling illness, including those with chronic medical conditions. The results of contracting COVID-19 have ranged from a temporary flu-like illness from which people have recovered, to life-threatening conditions and death. It can can be spread through person-to-person contact, through droplets in the air, and from touching surfaces where contamination has been deposited (the virus can live up to three days on non-porous surfaces).  

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that all people are at risk, but the following persons are at higher risk for more serious complications, including the elderly in general, and people of all ages who have serious underlying medical or chronic medical conditions, including:

  • heart disease;
  • diabetes;
  • lung disease;
  • hypertension; and 
  • asthma.

The high-risk population also includes those who are immunocompromised, including those with autoimmune diseases and those undergoing chemotherapy.

(SOURCE: TABLE. Hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and case–fatality percentages for reported COVID–19 cases, by age group —United States, February 12–March 16, 2020)

Thus, people who may have an “invisible illness” are more at risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19. 

So, what does this mean for home inspectors? It means that they must take extra precautions, not only for their own health and safety (particularly if they’re considered high-risk), but also for everyone they encounter during the course of business. 

NOTE #2:  It’s not always apparent who is at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19. The virus has infected people of all ages – from infants to the elderly, both healthy and not.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath. These symptoms may take up to 14 days after exposure to appear. There is currently no FDA-approved medication for treatment.

How COVID-19 Spreads

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person: 

  • between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet); and
  • through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

These droplets can land near the mouths and noses of people who are nearby and inhaled. 

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can pose an infection risk depending on the following methods of transmission and the virus’s lifespan:

  • aerosol (transmitted through the air):  3 hours;
  • copper surfaces:  4 hours;
  • cardboard surfaces:  24 hours; and
  • plastic and stainless-steel surfaces:  72 hours.

However, these timelines and methods may vary based on ambient temperature and relative humidity. More studies still need to be conducted. 

NOTE #3:  For the latest information about COVID-19 transmission, visit the CDC’s “How It Spreads” page.

  1.  Resources to Track the Spread of COVID-19 in North America and Globally

It’s important for commercial property inspectors to be aware of the continuing spread of COVID-19 in general, including emerging hotspots, and infection and fatality rates. Refer to the following resources: 

NOTE #4:  Sign up for email and text message (SMS) alerts related to COVID-19 at, whitehouse.govand

It’s also important for home inspectors to stay up to date on enacted restrictions within their local communities. The situation may vary greatly – and daily – in terms of stay-at-home orders and the closure of businesses and non-essential service providers in your community. Bookmark your state’s and city’s dedicated coronavirus webpages and sign up for their alerts. 

Then, share your experiences with other inspectors. It’s important for all of us to have each other’s back during this difficult time. By sharing local information with others, you may be helping inspectors who are located in nearby areas better prepare for what may be headed their way. 

NOTE #5:  Visit InterNACHI’s Inspection Community forum and  InterNACHI’s Facebook page. Share vital information about local issues during the COVID-19 outbreak, ask other inspectors relevant questions, and join the camaraderie to stay upbeat during this unprecedented time.

  1. Resources to Track Legislation Related to COVID-19

In addition to the health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, there may be financial and other concerns related to the operation of small businesses. Across the nation, state governments are issuing stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, with some exceptions for “essential business or industry,” which leaves inspectors and real estate professionals wondering if they’re exempt from those directives. In short, it varies by industry and location. Check with industry authorities, along with state government websites, and consult legal counsel, if necessary. 

As of March 25, 2020, the states with shelter-in-place / stay-at-home orders include:

  • California;
  • Colorado;
  • Connecticut; 
  • Delaware;
  • Hawaii;
  • Idaho;
  • Illinois;
  • Indiana;
  • Louisiana;
  • Massachusetts; 
  • Michigan;
  • Minnesota;
  • New Jersey;
  • New Mexico;
  • New York;
  • Ohio;
  • Oregon;
  • Vermont;
  • Washington state;
  • West Virginia; and
  • Wisconsin.

States that have enacted limited or municipal stay-at-home orders as of March 25 include:

  • Alabama;
  • Alaska;
  • Florida;
  • Georgia;
  • Kansas;
  • Maine;
  • Mississippi;
  • Missouri;
  • North Carolina;
  • Oklahoma;
  • Pennsylvania;
  • South Carolina;
  • Tennessee; and
  • Texas. 

NOTE #6:  Refer to the multi-state COVID-19 Policy Tracker. It has resources for all state and local government responses to COVID-19.

Home inspectors who are required to suspend business by law or due to health and safety concerns should track the financial relief legislation related to COVID-19. To date, there are at least three COVID-19 relief packages introduced (some have become a law), including:

  1. Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This bill addresses the development of vaccines and other medical supplies, ensures loans for affected small businesses, and deals with other aspects of other emergency preparedness. 
  2. Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This bill provides for paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expands food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requires employers to provide additional protections for healthcare workers.
  3. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This pending bill has four pillars: relief for small businesses; cash assistance for taxpayers; loans to businesses in major industries; and resources to combat the virus.

NOTE #7: Each legislative package listed above will affect small businesses differently. InterNACHI® urges its members to consult with their designated legal and tax professionals for more information on how the bills relate to their own business. Some legislation provides the ability of businesses with 50 or fewer employers to apply for certain exemptions, as well as tax credits for self-employment taxes.

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. For more information, visit the IRS’s Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage.

The U.S. Treasury Dept. and Internal Revenue Service have announced that Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15. Tax form filings and payments for all federal income taxes (including self-employment tax), regardless of amount, will now be due on July 15, 2020. For more information, read the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Press Release.

NOTE #8:  Independent contractors who provide ancillary services for your home inspection clients may be exempt from certain aspects of new temporary tax legislation. For general information about taxes and independent contractors, read Hiring Independent Contractors.

Coping with Short-Term Significant Slowdown

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a number of helpful resources, including its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, guidance for businesses and employers, SBA products and resources, and government contracting and local assistance. For more information, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has resources; read their blog post titled Protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus.

  1. COVID-19 Safety Standards

The CDC has stated that “widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus.” Thus, it’s extremely important for commercial property inspectors to learn how to protect themselves and others the come into contact with. 

All home inspectors are encouraged to complete InterNACHI’s new online COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course, which is free and open to all, including non-members. The course’s goal is to teach inspectors best practices for protecting themselves from the coronavirus during inspections, and how to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. It’s also open to real estate professionals interested in learning more.

NOTE #9:  You need not be a member of InterNACHI® to take the free online COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course. If you’re not a member of InterNACHI®, register as a guest to complete the free, online course

NOTE #10:  InterNACHI® advises its members to complete the course prior to continuing through the remaining sections of this article.

  1. Incorporating Safety Standards and Policies Companywide 

In addition to InterNACHI’s COVID-19 safety standards course and OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, more resources for emergency preparedness for pandemics and natural disasters include: 


NOTE #13:  Pandemics and natural disasters are unpredictable, so it’s in every business owner’s best interests to develop and incorporate standards and policies to address a crisis, if they don’t already have such protocols in place.

  1. Print and Video Resources 

To aid in developing and incorporating safety standards and policies companywide, the following documents are available for business owners related to COVID-19.

Print Resources: 

Summary Checklist for Commercial Property Inspectors to Reduce the Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2

Video Resources: 

  • CDC Video Resources, including: 
    • 10 Things You Can Do to Manage COVID-19 at Home
    • 6 Steps to Prevent COVID-19
    • COVID-19: What Older Adults Need to Know
    • Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019

  • WHO Video Resources, including:
    • Q&A: COVID-19 in the Workplace, and other general Q&A
    • How to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19
    • Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
    • How to Protect Yourself and Others
    • How to Wear and Dispose of Masks
    • Can Masks Protect Against 2019-nCoV?
    • Avoid Close Contact with Anyone Who Has a Fever and Cough
    • How Is 2019-nCoV Affecting People Who Get It?


Checklist for Home Inspectors
 to Reduce Their Risk of Exposure to COVID-19

Here are some basic steps inspectors can take to help avoid getting ill while performing inspections:

  • Observe strict personal hygiene precautions at all times.
    1. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.
    2. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or use the inside of your elbow.
    3. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately.
    4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with other people.
    1. Ask your clients if they're willing to consider not showing up at their inspection. walk-through survey. 
    2. Ask your clients to have the building’s current occupants leave the premises.
    3. If that’s not possible, avoid physical contact with the home’s occupants.
    4. Video-record the inspection. 
    5. Execute and transmit all inspection-related documents electronically. 
    6. Use live video chat or FaceTime during the inspection.

  • Take steps to protect others.
    1. Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
    2. Check with national and local news sources and medical experts for self-quarantine recommendations and other tips to help prevent the spread of the disease.

  • If you are sick:  
    1. Wear a face mask if going outside.
    2. Don't perform any home inspections until you are well.  
    3. Learn what to do if you are sick.

  • If you are NOT sick:  
    1. You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask). 
    2. Recommendations for PPE specific to inspection tasks may change depending on geographic location, updated risk assessments for workers, and information on PPE effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Employers should check the OSHA and CDC websites regularly for updates about recommended PPE.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently used items and surfaces daily, including:
    1. Office surfaces, including doorknobs, desk drawer and cabinet handles, office equipment, desktop computer, and desk phone
    2. Personal electronic devices, including cell phone, laptop, tablet, and cameras
    3. Work vehicle 
    4. Inspection tools and equipment

  • Stay up to date:
    1. Monitor the national and local news
    2. Sign up for email and text message (SMS) alerts related to the spread of COVID-19 through your local municipality, as well as,, and


(SOURCE: InterNACHI’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course, and OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, March 2020)