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  1. #1
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Recomended tools for starting out

    Hello All,
    I have been researching many tools and places to buy them, and I have some questions I think you can help with. What tools should a newbie like myself get? I know most of you recommend a moisture meter, infared thermometer, and electrical testers. Are the combustable gas detectors necessary? What about CO detectors? There is a plethora of different options for all of these. I have been looking at the Survey master and the Protimeter mini however the big guy Protimeter 3-in-1 MMS seems essential for stucco testing. Also as far as the gas detectors go, is just a combustable gas detector ok? Or would the combo units that check for refrigerant leaks as well be better? Lastly, I have found some small CO detectors for a couple of hundred bucks, are they worth it?
    It is hard starting out, but I want to be able to offer the same level of service as my competitors. Can I get away with the radon testing canisters? Or should I just bite the bullet and by the radon machines? I have already done this with the air sampling kits. I also wonder how many of you use these borescope type inspection cameras?
    Thanks again
    Bryan

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  2. #2
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    I should add, I do have most of the small tools ie. flashlights, water pressure gauge, tape measure, insulated screwdrivers, outlet testers, voltage tester, telescopic mirrors, awl, and ladders etc...


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Mesa AZ
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Don't forget to have a verrry large bank account or a rich wife/ better half, a large stock of Jack and Coke will also help.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Put the catalog down and walk away...............now....just put it down......and walk away.

    You should not use any tool unless you know how to use it. In some cases it involves training. Many of the tools you mentioned can give you incorrect readings if not used properly.

    I would suggest you KISS at first, then add as you go, and when the need arises.

    The absolute minimum would be: flashlight, a screwdriver (preferably a 6in1 unit), some sort of pliers (I use robogrips), a tester for electrical, a moisture meter, and a ladder.

    You can get a moisture meter for less than $20, or spend $500.
    Electrical testers range from the $3.95 outlet tester to the several hundred dollar Suretest. You could probably get by with the little light with two leads that cost $1.98.

    As far as CO testing or gas sniffing. This can lead to trouble if you are not prepared.

    Radon testing should only be done if you have had training. Cannisters are cheaper to use, but there is a reason continuous monitors are preferred (when the readings are just a little over 4.0). If you had training, you would know the reason.

    Don't be so eager to have all the latest/greatest cool tools.

    You said, "It is hard starting out, but I want to be able to offer the same level of service as my competitors" - not to be harsh, but you are not going to be able to offer the same level of service as your competitors, unless all of them are just starting out too. It's not the tools that make the level of service, it's the knowledge behind the tool.


  5. #5
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Maybe "offering the same level of service" was a bad way to put it. Your absolutly right Jack, It will take some time before I will be able to do that, but I do want to be competitive with the services I can offer. as for the training, again your right, but if I want to be competitive. Does it make sense to go through the Training that is available? I have looked into the NRPP as well as a stucco inspection program through IMA. All of these are costly, but if the other guys are offering this it stands to reason maybe I should too.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Plano, Texas
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    I have been inspecting since '95 and don't have 3/4 the tools you mentioned. I only bought a laser thermometer a year or two ago and it is no better that a simple stem thermometer (faster but not better.)
    The gadgets do not make for a better inspection.
    Remember you are a generalist conducting a VISUAL inspection.
    You will need a good quality ladder, don't cheap out here, you life depends on this one tool on every inspection.
    Spend money on a good flashlight, it will pay for itself when you catch that defect hidden in a dark attic, the more light the better.
    Save your money or at least buy it off ebay at a discount from the other guys that bought into the inspection schools propaganda about easy money and "every good inspector needs these good tools."
    Statistics indicate about 9 out of 10 new inspectors won't be around after 3 years. In Texas, we have reduced our numbers substantially over the past year even though the inspection schools keep cranking out newbies.
    Allow about 3 years to become profitable in a "good" market.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Recommended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Remember you are a generalist conducting a VISUAL inspection.

    Remember also that there is NO SUCH THING as a "visual inspection" for home inspectors today.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Charlotte NC Licensed in NC and SC
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    597

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Don't rely on regular maglight type flashlights for attics and crawlspaces.

    Get two Ultra Stingers, chargers, some spare bulbs, a spare battery and a belt ring clip holder thing. This was the best money I spent.

    Also get a Pentax optio camera, the waterproof version, it has no external moving parts to clog up, also get a spare battery and a larger memory card.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan D. Carlson View Post
    I should add, I do have most of the small tools ie. flashlights, water pressure gauge, tape measure, insulated screwdrivers, outlet testers, voltage tester, telescopic mirrors, awl, and ladders etc...

    What you mention here is about 95% of what you need. Get a good compact digital camera. I like the HP727. It's an older model but you can still get them on Ebay or Amazon etc. Get a compact power screwdriver for quick removal of panel covers and such. I second the motion for the Ultra Stinger flashlight. Vision is everything. Once you use one of these, you'll see what we mean.

    Cargo pants are great with the baggy pockets with velcro flaps and the extra pockets in the legs.


  10. #10
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    Jun 2008
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    What training do you have in radon measurement? Even if your local does not require it, you should do and NEHA NRPP approved coarse. If you don't know the proper protocol, you could be doing the public a disservice.


  11. #11
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Thanks for the tips. As for radon measurment, I don't have any training or instraments for measuring. One of the inspectors I met at a local HI org. has been kind enough to do the radon tests when I refer them to him. I may continue on like this for a while, and work on other training.


  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    If you buy cheap tools your curse them everytime you use them. Buy nice expensive tools, and of course you'll curse the first time for the price you paid for them but then you'll enjoy them.

    For example, I've had way to many cheap flashlights over the years, but I still have the nice expensive ones I bought and use them daily.

    rick


  13. #13
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    You are already thinking of what other areas besides home inspection to specialize in. What you need to do first is become a proficient home inspector.

    Offering other services that you are also not experienced at while you are trying to get experience in home inspection and getting home inspections in and of itself is what you will have to get proficient in.

    You are getting so far ahead of yourself and really have to put the brakes on, take a breath, relax and then go become a home inspector first and only for now. Do not take one of those one week, out the door, certified, home inspectors. YOU WON"T KNOW ANYTHING AT THAT POINT.

    Get into a multiple week, hundreds of hours, tested on each subject matter and the a final test in the end followed by the National Home Inspectors Exam at the least. To even consider going out there and trying to perform a real home inspection with no training at all and never having wored under anyone for some form of tutelage is nuts even if you have some back ground in construction .

    You still will not know what a home inspection is or is not. Reading some associations standards is not going to magically tell you what a home inspection is or is not.


  14. #14
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    I should mention I am just about complete on the ASHI@home training program(which is a few hundred hrs), and with 10 years in the new construction and remodel contracting industry, hopefully I won't face plant too severely. I mentioned in another post I have attended some of the local ASHI chapter meetings, I have been fortunate enough to sit next to the right guys, they have let me go on some ride a-longs (unfortunately they all are about 120 miles from where I live). But I must mention, this site has been the best source for information.
    So thanks to all for the great input.
    Bryan


  15. #15
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    You are already thinking of what other areas besides home inspection to specialize in. What you need to do first is become a proficient home inspector.

    Offering other services that you are also not experienced at while you are trying to get experience in home inspection and getting home inspections in and of itself is what you will have to get proficient in.

    You are getting so far ahead of yourself and really have to put the brakes on, take a breath, relax and then go become a home inspector first and only for now. Do not take one of those one week, out the door, certified, home inspectors. YOU WON"T KNOW ANYTHING AT THAT POINT.

    Get into a multiple week, hundreds of hours, tested on each subject matter and the a final test in the end followed by the National Home Inspectors Exam at the least. To even consider going out there and trying to perform a real home inspection with no training at all and never having wored under anyone for some form of tutelage is nuts even if you have some back ground in construction .

    You still will not know what a home inspection is or is not. Reading some associations standards is not going to magically tell you what a home inspection is or is not.
    What schools offer multiple weeks and hundreds of hours of school?


  16. #16
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    The ASHI@home course is pretty involved. If you have full time to work on it I think you could get through in about 4-6 weeks. I still have to try and make a living and it has taken me almost 3 months to get through. It is a little redundant with a quiz after every chapter in the book, and then almost the same quiz online, but it helps you retain a good portion of the info. The 11 books it comes with are good sources for reference later on. But so far from what I can tell, the members on this site have probably asked/answered most questions that come up. And if not, ask away, most here seem to like the strange and unusual.

    Bryan


  17. #17
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan D. Carlson View Post
    The ASHI@home course is pretty involved. If you have full time to work on it I think you could get through in about 4-6 weeks. I still have to try and make a living and it has taken me almost 3 months to get through. It is a little redundant with a quiz after every chapter in the book, and then almost the same quiz online, but it helps you retain a good portion of the info. The 11 books it comes with are good sources for reference later on. But so far from what I can tell, the members on this site have probably asked/answered most questions that come up. And if not, ask away, most here seem to like the strange and unusual.

    Bryan
    I did the AHIT in class training last summer. It was 7 days of training in class and several inspections of local houses. I thought it was a very good course...I


  18. #18
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan D. Carlson View Post
    The ASHI@home course is pretty involved. If you have full time to work on it I think you could get through in about 4-6 weeks. I still have to try and make a living and it has taken me almost 3 months to get through. It is a little redundant with a quiz after every chapter in the book, and then almost the same quiz online, but it helps you retain a good portion of the info. The 11 books it comes with are good sources for reference later on. But so far from what I can tell, the members on this site have probably asked/answered most questions that come up. And if not, ask away, most here seem to like the strange and unusual.

    Bryan
    I did the AHIT in class training last summer. It was 7 days of training in class and several inspections of local houses. I thought it was a very good course...I dont think I would learn well doing an online course...I do much better with in class training


  19. #19
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Thomas View Post
    What schools offer multiple weeks and hundreds of hours of school?
    In Texas you now need 480 hours of schooling to be a home inspector.

    One of the schools which does this is ITA. There are others but I am not sure who.

    If one has never inspected homes at all it is adviseable to take class room hours for all of it mixed with actual home inspections.

    Actually I have not looked at start up classes in so long I cannot remember but I do believe it is 480 in Texas.

    I have not even checked into courses with ITA in a long time. Even though I was an inspector when I moved here 5 years ago I had to take a course that Texas accepted.


  20. #20
    Dan Popoff's Avatar
    Dan Popoff Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    I took the Ahit online class. I was able to go through the material in about 2 weeks. I was able to practice some on houses was doing termite inspections on so I work pretty well for me "unofficially of course". As far as the Nachi test need more study.


  21. #21
    Bryan D. Carlson's Avatar
    Bryan D. Carlson Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    seven days to two weeks, that seems kind of short for how much information is needed to perform an adequate inspection. And for the people looking for a few hundred hour course, the ASHI home inspection school utilizes a 10 course curriculum each course around 42 hours, roughly 420 hrs. That's pretty involved. I also recently attended a fire academy which was 480 hours, and am starting a EMT basic program that is only 250 hours. I feel and I am sure most inspectors on this site would agree that more is better when it comes to the training one recieves to be in a specilized field. As soon as I finish my EMT training I am going to comence more HI type training, Radon, EIFS, and many others. Just as a side note, I recently met a biulder who critisized me for getting the training in HI, he informed me he does inspections all the time and they only take about 30 to 45 minutes. He also feels it is a hard business because he only gets maybe one a month. Hmm, I wonder why.


  22. #22
    Brian Thomas's Avatar
    Brian Thomas Guest

    Default Re: Recomended tools for starting out

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan D. Carlson View Post
    seven days to two weeks, that seems kind of short for how much information is needed to perform an adequate inspection. And for the people looking for a few hundred hour course, the ASHI home inspection school utilizes a 10 course curriculum each course around 42 hours, roughly 420 hrs. That's pretty involved. I also recently attended a fire academy which was 480 hours, and am starting a EMT basic program that is only 250 hours. I feel and I am sure most inspectors on this site would agree that more is better when it comes to the training one recieves to be in a specilized field. As soon as I finish my EMT training I am going to comence more HI type training, Radon, EIFS, and many others. Just as a side note, I recently met a biulder who critisized me for getting the training in HI, he informed me he does inspections all the time and they only take about 30 to 45 minutes. He also feels it is a hard business because he only gets maybe one a month. Hmm, I wonder why.
    30-45 minutes? Of course he doesnt get much business...im sure realtors love him though. The less time you spend inspecting, the fewer problems you find. Sounds like a realtors dream


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