Doing home inspections comes with its share of challenges. It isn’t usually dangerous — if you are careful — but it’s definitely not a cushy office job.
Summer comes with its own set of pitfalls for home inspectors. And because it’s the busy season for real estate transactions, it’s also the busy season for home inspectors.
What should you watch out for this summer when inspecting homes?
1. Heat exhaustion
One of the reasons you got into home inspections is likely because you don’t want to sit at a desk all day; you want to get outside and move around. That’s admirable, but you have to be careful on days the mercury tops 90.
You likely don’t have the luxury of performing home inspections only on days the weather is good, so you have to be prepared. You may not be able to adequately inspect a home during a thunderstorm or a driving rain, but high temperatures won’t get you off the hook.
Be careful to avoid heat exhaustion. Laboring outdoors on a hot day can bring this on more quickly than you might expect. According to WebMD, warning signs include:
- Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
- Muscle or abdominal cramps
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Pale skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
2. Encounters with creatures
All the animals and bugs that hibernate or lay low during the winter months are out in force in the summer. With all the crawling under buildings and peering into attics and other tight spaces that home inspectors have to do, you must be careful to avoid injury. In particular, beware of:
- Poisonous snakes and spiders
- Bees, wasps, hornets, and scorpions
- Bats, squirrels, rats, raccoons, and opossums
- Stray dogs and feral cats
3. Toxic air
Pollutants come in all shapes and sizes, and you never know what you will find in an old building. Even new buildings can come with dangers, such as the phthalates in ordinary household items like shower curtains, flooring, and adhesives.
Among the types of airborne pollutants you might find in a home are:
- Dust mites
- Cockroach allergens
- Chemical solvents
Always have masks with you in case you need them. Sometimes all that’s needed is a simple dust mask, but other times a full-fledged respirator is the way to go. It depends on the situation.
An ASHI Reporter article talks about the importance of safety while inspecting homes. It specifically mentions a home inspector who died on the job. An investigation shows he was inspecting a hot attic and fainted, falling through the hatch. The fall didn’t kill him instantly, but he later died from his injuries. No one was with him during the inspection, and no one knew where he was, so he was not found for a day.
The inspection company he worked for now has a rule that you must call in before entering an attic and call again when you are done. If you don’t, the company calls 911.
Most home inspections are done with others present, whether they are the homeowners, potential buyers, a real estate agent or someone else. If you are going to inspect a home alone, make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back.
Keep these tips in mind to stay safe this summer inspecting homes. If you’re interested in becoming a certified home inspector, get a demo of our home inspection course to get started today.