How Home Inspectors Can Protect Themselves from Viruses

March 12, 2020

Here are some basics steps home inspectors can take to help avoid getting ill from performing home inspections.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. For more information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website

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 in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly inhaled into the lungs. Ideally, a home inspection would be performed at an unoccupied or vacant house. Usually, home inspectors are doing their work along with their clients, real estate agents, and occupants.

Take steps to protect yourself.

Wash your hands often.

  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Be sure to wash your hands before and after the home inspection.

Avoid close contact with other people.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting sick, such as the elderly, and people with underlying health issues. Ask your clients if they're willing to consider not showing up at the inspection. 

Video-record the inspection. 

There are many home inspectors who will video-record the inspection for absent clients. Their clients can then play the inspection video from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Use live video chat or FaceTime during the inspection.

Home inspectors can use live video chat or FaceTime with their absent clients during the inspection. Facebook Messenger, iPhone FaceTime, and Google Duo are options. 

Take steps to protect others.

Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick. The CDC recommends that people who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should self-quarantine until they are free of a fever, which is a temperature of 100.4° F (37.8° C) or greater (using an oral thermometer), as well as those who exhibit signs of a fever, or any other symptoms. Recommendations are changing almost daily, so be sure to 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.

Inspectors who work for a larger company should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.

When you perform a home inspection, ask the homeowner or their agent to have the current occupants leave during the home inspection process.

Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash immediately.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Wear a face mask if you are sick.

  • If you are sick:  Consider not doing any home inspections until you are well. You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle), and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes you trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes. People who are caring for you should also wear a face mask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • If you are NOT sick:  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). Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes your inspection vehicle, inspection tools and equipment, and your phone.

Finally, stay up to date.

Monitor your local news to find out if there are school closures, cancellations of public events, and other actions taken that may affect your workday, as well as plans with your family.  Minimize your attendance at large gatherings.  Most importantly, don't panic.  Keeping informed and taking basic precautions for health and hygiene are your best defenses against any illness, including COVID-19.  Visit the CDC website for the latest information.


Take InterNACHI's free, online Safe Practices for the Home Inspector Course.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention