What to put in the bag?

I have decided to enter the business and was looking for any advice you can offer a newbie. Specifically I was curious as to which tools are a must in your bag, which are nice to have and which you should not have. I have read various posts about increased liability by using certain tools and am a bit confused how using specific tools can increase liability.
I’m sure there are plenty of fun tools to get, but looking for an ideal “starter kit” or tools you wish you had on your first inspection!
Also, looking for a recommendation for a lawyer in the Chicagoland area for Inc/LLC and general counsel.

Thanks in advance for your help!

A good rechargeable flashlight (Streamlight UltraStinger highly recommmeded), a smaller flashlight for peeking underneath the sinks, Little Giant (or similar) ladder, a 3-prong outlet tester, 2-wire test probe, non-contact voltage sensor, 6-in-1 screwdriver, a magnet on a telescoping extension, mirror on telescoping extension, 12:1 IR thermometer, small utility knife, hosebib pressure gauge, a ball bearing, binoculars, and a digital camera. This stuff will pretty much handle everything in the general house.

I use two flashlights because the UltraStinger is only good for about an hour or so. So, I save that for the attics and crawlspaces.

For visiting the crawlspace; disposable overalls, 1/2 face mask w/ asbestos rated cannisters, long thin screwdriver to check for rot, UltraStinger, spare small flashlight, digitial camera, digital voice recorder, small bag to carry everything, good kneepads, and good elbow pads (hocky or lacrosse pads work great).

More expensive (but useful) toys: Combustible gas detector, moisture detector, CO meter, PDA, Tablet.

You could go hog wild on tools.


Inexpensive, lightweight plastic “torpedo” level
25’ tape measure (inexpensive, you will loose/forget/loan many)
Clip board with cheap tape measure attached with Velcro, for client
Instant read thermometer (in addition to IR thermometer)

IMO, the first expensive tool to buy is a moisture meter, I use a GE Pritimeter Surveymaster, which takes both pin and sub-surface reading - I use it on several times on most inspections.

I think one of the most important tools I own is a probe, it’s a metal stick about 30" long with a wooden handle, the end is pointed. When I start my inspections, I always start on the exterior and use my probe to find soft spots or rot. I look at the kick plates under doors, poke around window casings, poke near where the chimney meets the siding, you get the idea!

You can go to www.professionalequipment.com and buy one for 25 bucks.

I also use it when I get into the basement and I’ll poke the beams, rim joists also.

Hope this helps.

I agree with the above 2 post’s, except I would like to add that i use screwdrivers that are made for electrical work, or insulated in layman terms. I use a telescopic 12 ft ladder, gets me everywhere i need to go.

Welcome and good luck. The telescopic ladder is great for bringing into the house for the attic access. Don’t only concentrate on the tools but also essentials like:

  1. Case of blue plastic shoe covers- you can get these cheap at Uline.
  2. Small cordless handheld vac or thin tarp or sheet for catching insulation when you open attic access.
  3. Extra batteries for digital camera or other tools.
  4. Rain gear or rain jacket in vehicle.
  5. Extra company shirt in vehicle.
  6. Set of “Code Check” books are nice for quick reference.
  7. Disposable “Tyvek” coveralls for crawlspaces.
  8. Most importantly a tape measurer- Every single client wants to measure to see how thier stuff is going to fit their new house while they are there. You will win lots of kudos whith this.

Don’t forget the small cooler with water bottles, with summer just around the corner and attic temperatures rising you will need hydration.

Also Rick, visit www.nachichicago.org for more info on our local NACHI Chapter here. There are alot of great members who will be happy to give you help and answer any questions you might have. Our chapter meetings are every 3rd thursday of the month. All info can be found on the website.

A roll of TP in the truck is also a good idea

Thanks for all the advice!

I think the biggest “must have” is…


Started building my tool kit a couple weeks ago with some of the basics. After looking through a couple vendors magazines I realized there was sooooo many “toys” available.

How does using / not using certain tools (gas tester / CO tester / moisture meter) affect liability? Seems some think that using these may open up additional problems. Any ideas?


In most cases, I imagine the liability stems from not properly reporting the use of these tools. This is why I always report both written and orally that my analyzers do NOT provide a conclusive analysis of the subject.

For example, it is very possible that a water stain in the corner of the ceiling directly below a newly installed flashing is found to be bone dry by my SurveyMaster hours after a heavy rain, yet it becomes saturated during a light rain months later. If I merely reported that this spot was dry, I would have opened myself up to litigation. With stating that the test wasn’t conclusive and that this spot is potentially a reoccuring leak that happened to not be saturated during the time of the inspection, I did not provide the client with a potentially costly false sense of security.

The way I see it and report it, I use these tools to see what my human senses cannot. I often find issues that I otherwise wouldn’t, usually electrical, that could lead to problematic conditions in the future for my client. Since these conditions are reported, the client is forewarned and has an oppertunity to address them before the consequences can become costly. I also imagine the client is less inclined to sue me should something happen due to his/her inaction and they are at a disadvantage if they attempt to file suit. IMO, that is reducing my liability.

I thought this was something everyone kept in their vehicles!:roll: Along with a set of tools, emergency kit, fire extinguiser, and flairs or hazard cones, coveralls, old beach towels & a change of cloths. I also keep replacement vehicle & 60 watt light bulbs in my truck. Ever sense I had my first car.

You always blow a tire in the rain or snow, or on a muddy road when your in your Sunday Best, outside the range of a cell phone. :twisted:

I did a search for “Broom stick with nail duct taped to it” and didn’t find it. Can you post the URL. For some reason, I’m curious about this technical device.


You can make your own probe by simply going to HD and picking up a metal dowel rod and a stock plastic handle for a round file. Makes a fine probe and cost less than $10. Ive made several different kinds from telescoping handles to the one described above.

I really want to know how you plan on using a roll of TP in the truck.? ha. ha.

Marcel :mrgreen: :slight_smile: :wink:

Thats a big bag if it holds a little giant ladder.

Ill bet you don’t get a a very good price when you trade in that truck. :nosy: :nosy: :nosy: :nosy:

Don’t forget a yard stick for checking service drop clearence or roof plus figuring out the roof pitch, 2’, & torpedo level, compass, 20’ stick 11/4" pvc pipe for checking service drop clearence over drives - decks, mark your heights with majik marker or tape, 15’ telescoping fiberglass paint roller extension and cheap roller handle to grind off into a point for a long probe, small awl, broom and dust pan, rags,foam upholstery cleaner paper towels and some fantastic spray for accidents and cleaning data plates. Spray bottle with dish soap and water to verify location of gas leak, insect spray and repellent, 7 gal paint bucket, plug in radio for verifying circuits, screwdrivers, pliers, cresent wrench, claw hammer, garden gloves, insulated gloves, folding multi-tool, umbrella, hat, wind breaker, co2 pellet pistol, mace, ball bat, always carry cell phone in attics and crawlspaces, aspirin and bottled water, first-aid kit, 2x4 block, life expectancy chart, reference books, calender, calculator, plus many of the things already listed, and don’t forget a note pad to write down things you need. Hope this helps. ken

Don’t foget to hire an assistant and drive a small bus to carry everything!!:wink:


You don’t need no stink’n Bus…


Is that your Hummer David? Nice ride!