Following is a list of basic tools carried by most home inspectors:
1. Flashlight -- A Mag light with halogen bulbs and rechargable batteries is a pretty valuable tool. You'll probably pay about $125. Get one of those belt-loop holsters because you'll carry it with you everywhere you go. Keep the batteries charged and always have a backup!
2. Bug-eye circuit tester
-- This basic screening tool keeps you in the camp of the generalist. It fits in your pocket, so is easy always readily available. You'll be using it a lot for testing receptacles. Be sure to get the one with the GFCI test button built in.
3. Screw drivers
-- Be sure to have plenty of screw drivers. You're going to need them for more than just turning screws. I carry the one with interchangeable bits in my back pocket and I use it a lot. With the bits out, it works as a nut driver for removing the screws from furnace and air conditioner cover plates. Keep a straight-slot and a Phillips version of each:
- Regular old screw drivers
- Short stubby screw drivers
- Right angle screw drivers
4. Electric screw driver -- These come in handy when you have a lot of screws to turn. Electric panel dead-front covers come to mind. Don't forget to keep the batteries charged.
5. Ladder -- The great debate is between the 13' folding ladder and the telescoping ladder. I prefer the folding ladder for two reasons: it's what I'm used to and because it functions as a step ladder. Advocates of the telescoping ladder assure me that the can do everything with the telescoping ladder that I can do with the folding ladder, but I'm not convinced. Obviously, the telescoping ladder is smaller and lighter. Some inspectors carry longer extension ladders on top of their vehicles. I like driving a smaller vehicle with the ladder in the trunk.
6. Moisture meter
-- This is a pretty handy device. Costs can vary. The pin type are more accurate, but leave holes. I don't think you need to spend a thousand dollars, but $500 is not out of the question.