It is InterNACHI’s position that home inspectors provide an essential service because they ensure people’s health and safety in the home by inspecting for hazards. But it’s important to check your state’s and municipality’s rules in order to be compliant with rapidly changing guidelines and temporary laws enacted to address this emergency. InterNACHI® will post updates to its website at www.nachi.org as information becomes available.
NOTE #1: Health and safety are always the most important, without exception.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that all people are at risk, but the following persons are at higher risk for more serious complications, including the elderly in general, and people of all ages who have serious underlying medical or chronic medical conditions, including:
(SOURCE: TABLE. Hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and case–fatality percentages for reported COVID–19 cases, by age group —United States, February 12–March 16, 2020)
Thus, people who may have an “invisible illness” are more at risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.
So, what does this mean for home inspectors? It means that they must take extra precautions, not only for their own health and safety (particularly if they’re considered high-risk), but also for everyone they encounter during the course of business.
NOTE #2: It’s not always apparent who is at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19. The virus has infected people of all ages – from infants to the elderly, both healthy and not.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath. These symptoms may take up to 14 days after exposure to appear. There is currently no FDA-approved medication for treatment.
How COVID-19 Spreads
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person:
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can pose an infection risk depending on the following methods of transmission and the virus’s lifespan:
NOTE #3: For the latest information about COVID-19 transmission, visit the CDC’s “How It Spreads” page.
It’s also important for home inspectors to stay up to date on enacted restrictions within their local communities. The situation may vary greatly – and daily – in terms of stay-at-home orders and the closure of businesses and non-essential service providers in your community. Bookmark your state’s and city’s dedicated coronavirus webpages and sign up for their alerts.
Then, share your experiences with other inspectors. It’s important for all of us to have each other’s back during this difficult time. By sharing local information with others, you may be helping inspectors who are located in nearby areas better prepare for what may be headed their way.
NOTE #5: Visit InterNACHI’s Inspection Community forum and InterNACHI’s Facebook page. Share vital information about local issues during the COVID-19 outbreak, ask other inspectors relevant questions, and join the camaraderie to stay upbeat during this unprecedented time.
As of March 25, 2020, the states with shelter-in-place / stay-at-home orders include:
Home inspectors who are required to suspend business by law or due to health and safety concerns should track the financial relief legislation related to COVID-19. To date, there are at least three COVID-19 relief packages introduced (some have become a law), including:
Internal Revenue Service
The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. For more information, visit the IRS’s Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage.
The U.S. Treasury Dept. and Internal Revenue Service have announced that Tax Day has been moved from April 15 to July 15. Tax form filings and payments for all federal income taxes (including self-employment tax), regardless of amount, will now be due on July 15, 2020. For more information, read the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Press Release.
NOTE #8: Independent contractors who provide ancillary services for your home inspection clients may be exempt from certain aspects of new temporary tax legislation. For general information about taxes and independent contractors, read Hiring Independent Contractors.
Coping with Short-Term Significant Slowdown
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a number of helpful resources, including its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, guidance for businesses and employers, SBA products and resources, and government contracting and local assistance. For more information, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has resources; read their blog post titled Protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus.
All home inspectors are encouraged to complete InterNACHI’s new online COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course, which is free and open to all, including non-members. The course’s goal is to teach inspectors best practices for protecting themselves from the coronavirus during inspections, and how to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan. It’s also open to real estate professionals interested in learning more.
NOTE #9: You need not be a member of InterNACHI® to take the free online COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course. If you’re not a member of InterNACHI®, register as a guest to complete the free, online course.
NOTE #10: InterNACHI® advises its members to complete the course prior to continuing through the remaining sections of this article.
Checklist for Home Inspectors
to Reduce Their Risk of Exposure to COVID-19
Here are some basic steps inspectors can take to help avoid getting ill while performing inspections:
(SOURCE: InterNACHI’s COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Home Inspectors Course, and OSHA’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, March 2020)
None of the staff at All Coast Inspections have traveled internationally in the last 14 days. None of our employees have any symptoms of the flu or cold. Our team has been instructed to let us know immediately should they develop any symptoms. Our administration will be working from home to reduce the opportunity for this virus to spread.
At All Coast Inspections we are aware of the current concerns with COVID-19. Our main priority is the well-being of our clients, staff, referring partners and home sellers as well as our community as a whole. We want to assure you that we are taking all precautions to protect the health of our clients and our inspectors. In response to the COVID-19 virus situation that is rapidly unfolding around the world, All Coast Inspections has developed and is implementing new protocols and procedures.
To increase everyone’s' safety
❖ We have required our inspectors to decline an inspection if they are not feeling well or if they feel at risk going into the home.
❖ Our inspectors will sanitize themselves before and after each appointment.
❖ Our inspectors will be washing their hands multiple times during the inspection process.
❖ Our inspectors will be bringing their own hand soap dispensers, hand sanitizing wipes, disposable gloves and masks with them.
❖ Our inspectors will wipe down, with antiseptic wipes, anything they may have come in contact with during the inspection; door knobs, thermostat, oven controls, dishwasher, light switches, etc….
If you or anyone is planning to attend the inspection
❖ Have been out of the country within the last 14 days or have had cold or flu-like symptoms, we ask that you inform our office immediately and we will schedule a virtual meeting between you and your inspector.
❖ Understand that we will be avoiding any physical contact. We will no longer be shaking hands.
❖ Our inspectors to maintain 2 meters between themselves and others.
❖ As a substitute for face to face meetings we are also offering our clients the option to have a phone conversation or video chat meeting with the inspector after the inspection has been completed. We appreciate your understanding of our recent changes and would appreciate any feedback or comments. These are uncharted waters with no rule book. We would encourage all parties to take our current situation seriously and to do everything possible to reduce the opportunity for this virus to spread in our communities. We continue to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and we are closely monitoring CDC reports for updates. We love our jobs and we truly enjoy meeting with our clients and providing valuable information about their new home. We are grateful for your business. Our prayers are with everyone as we get through this together. As a Christian owned business, our trust is in the Lord and his word.
Lou Wissner, Owner/Inspector