As I sit here living in Maui after all the fires I have to think there will be a need for FEMA (or similar) inspectors. +/- 20 years ago I took a FEMA class at a CE conference to get setup to be deployed post-disaster (most focus was hurricanes in Florida or nearby) but never followed up with anything beyond that. I’m sure by now everything I learned has changed with apps, internet, etc.
Full disclosure - Of course, I’m always looking for work but also hate the idea of sitting here with a set of skills available and they paying to bring people here from other areas. I’d love to have a contact that is beyond just cold-calling FEMA. Thanks!!
Using the search function for FEMA I noticed a lot of posts stating they only pay around $30 per inspection, and you have to pay your expenses up front, not that you would need lodging more than likely.
I am a contacted FEMA disaster housing inspector. There are two companies that perform FEMA inspections. There is Vanguard Inspections Services & WSP Inspection Services. Vanguard pays by the inspection & WSP pays per hour. I contract through Vanguard. FEMA is also starting to have their “reserve” workers handle some of the smaller disasters.
The first step is by applying to either company. You then go through a lengthy FBI background check, which at the time took around 9 months to complete. There are times when they expedite this process to a few days. This is when there are a significant number of disasters going on at one time. This requires you to travel to and stay at a location throughout the process. If approved, you start immediately.
Those are probably pretty close to accurate. I am paid above those rates.
I schedule 2 inspections per hour and work an average of 10 hours in the field each day. This is dependent on daylight. Then it’s back to the hotel to schedule until 9:00 PM. This is 7 days a week until work slows down.
I chose Vanguard simply because they pay by the inspection. Comparing the pay rates between the two companies has confirmed that I made the right decision.
I have done FEMA work. The inspections are nothing like a home inspection. You are collecting data from the individual. You work on a pad computer and basically fill in the form. When everything has been destroyed by a fire or flood, and you really do not have a structure any longer those tend to go pretty quick. When I did hurricane work we actually setup in a high school gym that was also a relief center. Often we did 15-20 in a day. Once we got into the field we would do anywhere from 2-15 in a day. As the days go on the length of travel gets further and further apart from each site visit. I did work for PB(Parsons Brinkholf), our pay back then was around $60 per address. One issue is that often your hotel is an hour or more away, or even a cot in or near a relief center!
For the last 10 years the lucrative damage inspection work has been going through the insurance companies. You have to be trained and on the list to get called to do work. The insurance companies pay way, way more than FEMA. I think you need to be PE or Architect though.
Also look into the SBA for possible disaster assistance inspections Wildfire Updates And Resources | U.S. Senator Brian Schatz . Not sure if SBA are still performing their own inspections or not? Back with hurricanes Rita and Katrina I worked for SBA inspecting damaged homes and businesses. It was not a “pay by piece” and instead a daily pay amount. Additionally SBA paid full freight for travel, lodging, meals, rental vehicles, etc. It was a much better deal than the FEMA 'Pay by piece" operation.