Here are some basics steps home inspectors can take to help avoid getting ill from performing home inspections. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The best way to protect yourself, your client, and everyone in your community is to work alone. Home inspectors can work alone. Home inspectors do not require contact with other people. Performing a home inspection does not require anyone working with or near the home inspector.
Avoid Being Exposed
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, 2 meters); and
through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. 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
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. Home inspectors are using Zoom Meetings to meet with their clients to discuss the results of the home inspection. A home inspector may use Zoom to share their computer screen to read over the inspection report, the inspection images, and inspection video with their client in a real-time, face-to-face meeting.
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. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
Stay home as much as possible.
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.
Keep your distance. Physical distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
Use a cloth face cover.
CDC.gov recommends wearing cloth face covers in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Home inspectors and contractors should wear a cloth face covering to be as safe and considerate as possible. Wear a covering whenever you're away from your house, walking, running, getting the mail, taking out the garbage, washing your work vehicle, and especially when performing your work, your home inspections.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Wear a covering even when you're not around others because a person or child may unexpectedly appear in close proximity to you.
Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.
Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social or physical distancing.
Cover coughs and sneezes.
If you do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always 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 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.
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
Wear a face mask if you are sick.
If you are sick: Don't do 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.
Clean and disinfect.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes your inspection vehicle, inspection tools and equipment, and your phone. Home inspectors may consider advising homeowners to clean and disinfect tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
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.