Beware the thermal imaging contractor

In my hometown there is a remodeling contractor who has purchased a thermal imaging camera for use in his business. A recent ad in the paper describes the services he offers with thermal imaging. For example: Insulation checks, air leakage, moisture intrusion, EIFS construction, HVAC performance, subsurface heat sources, verification of construction detail, sick building syndrome, roof moisture inspections. I’ve been expecting for some time that new technologies can cross the lines of the traditional inspection vs. the contractor trade. If the technology exceeds the limits of a normal home inspection…at what point does the contractor cross the line of needing a home inspection license if required in his state? This person is actually advertising a roof inspection in the ad. He has no certification in thermal imaging or many of the other services he is offering such as HVAC performance and moisture analysis.

The other points to consider…inspectors can not do repairs to the homes they inspect to prevent a conflict of interest. However, the door is open for a contractor to inspect and then perform the repairs his inspection reveals ???

Comments please…let’s begin the debate.

IMHO, IR has the potential to become a new snake oil. People are leading others with embellishment of the IR units capabilities and they will not truly get what they expected. Read the past IR threads about residential electrical inspections, finding mold/critters with IR, etc.

It does have its place but it may not be finding it!!

Texas requires a license if you inspect two or more systems for a person that
is purchasing or selling a home. If no purchase or sell is intended, then TREC
has not jurisdiction.

Also… most IR cameras are sold to people who do not get any training.
Sad but true.

Also, as a contractor, he can “inspect” anything his client wants him to in regards to doing a repair. He’s “inspecting” the roof to locate leaks and fix them. I would say as long as it isn’t a strict inspection, and there is no RE transaction involved, then that would be his prerogative.

First thing you have to do is put all of this in perspective. IN most States, builders have a strong lobby group and HI do not. They are a lot more organized and represented in those areas that have Contractor Boards. Contractors in most cases will get an automatic pass on any requirements, especially if they are licensed contractors. They can easily justify adding new inspection services as part of their current job. These new services are misunderstood and misrepresented many times by and to the unsuspecting public. Until the States have to step in and determine if someone needs to prove they are trained or certified in the use and application of new technology anyone can buy one of these (not just IR) and do business. States tend to lag behind on this until one group or another decides it needs to be State regulated and starts the typical lobbying practices we have all become so familiar with. Rice bowl mentality trying to cut competition will almost always start to surface and puts it into the political arena. Im certainly not saying this is right, just the way it is and most likely always will be.

The state threw out that contractors could do HI with the HI Licencing Law.
Actually, they were the only ones that used to be able to inspect new construction (where there was no AHJ).

He sounds like he’s doing home inspection to me.
His contractor licence (if he has one, did you check?) does not cover what he is doing.

If he is a roofer and uses TI on roofs only he is OK.
But he is not.

I am trying to go TI rather than HI.
I will keep my HI Licence so I can do a broader IR inspection on residential buildings (< 5 units) without this issue popping up.

Go here and check all of his licences & post a complaint if you wish:

I happen to be a contractor and an inspector. I use my camera all the time for construction projects. I am presently working on attending the local home show in April where my booth will be interactive with my lap top and camera. I see no problem with contractors using IR, in fact I think you’ll see more of it in the future. I know when clients talk to me about energy efficient home improvements they know immediately I am 1 serious about my job and 2 educated enough to back up my proposals. It really is a powerful tool for me.

I think this a little different than how you work.
Your working on a project you would otherwise do even if you didn’t have a camera.

Are you going out trying to find jobs thought the use of the camera, then contract to fix the issues, in Insulation checks, air leakage, moisture intrusion, EIFS construction, HVAC performance, subsurface heat sources, verification of construction detail, sick building syndrome, roof moisture inspections?

In this state you can not do that anymore.
You can not advertise that you will inspect, report, contract to repair…
In this case he is proposing to work under several required licences and likely does not likely have all these licences.
You can be a roofer and and use IR on the roof, or an HVAC contractor…
Even if your just a “repair man” you must be licenced.

If your inspecting, your a home inspector. You can not work on what you inspect.

It may become a gray area, but “advertising” is the key word.
You can do stuff in the performance of your job, but you can not advertise that which is outside your scope.

My link as a source for all licences in the state.
If he doesn’t have a HI licence, he must hold a licence in all the other fields he is advertising in.

What makes a Realtor different than a HI?
They inspect houses they are listing and selling.
The scope of our licences spell it out.

Good debate and interesting points so far. It’s obvious this issue will vary according to the laws of each state for home inspection and contracting. The reason home inspection laws are enacted is to protect the consumer and establish criteria for training and scope of the work. If the law states you are required to inspect and report an opinion of particular aspects of the home as a home inspector then you fall within the home inspection licensing requirements. It may no say whether or not you are collecting a fee for that opinion. That to me…is another gray area.

Let’s say a contractor who has a roofing license is asked to inspect a roof for condition…in other words it has no known issues. The contractor agrees to render an opinion with a thermal imaging camera (not required equipment by state law) and he is charging a fee for the opinion. He claims there is a leak and offers to make the repairs also for a fee. As those with IR cameras know you can easily show air infiltration and claim it as moisture. Deception in the home building and remodeling industry has been a problem since the begining of time. That’s why we inspect and do what we do.

Here is the basic description of home inspection licensing in Tennessee:

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

**(1) **“Client” means any person who hires or seeks to hire a home inspector to obtain a home inspection or home inspection report;

**(2) **“Commissioner” means the commissioner of commerce and insurance, or the commissioner’s designee;

**(3) (A) **“Home inspection” means a visual analysis for the purpose of providing a professional opinion of the condition of a residential building, ancillary buildings, any reasonably accessible installed components, and the operation of the building’s systems, including any controls normally operated by the owner of the building, for the following components:

**(i) **Heating systems;

**(ii) **Cooling systems;

**(iii) **Electrical systems;

**(iv) **Plumbing systems;

**(v) **Structural components;

**(vi) **Foundations;

**(vii) **Roof coverings;

**(viii) **Exterior and interior components; and

**(ix) **Any other site aspects that affect the residential dwelling.

Notice the use of “visual analysis” in the description. If thermal imaging or another tech device is used…does that open the door for another trade to do “inspections” because the device is beyond visual ? Obviously using the term “inspection or inspecting” in a contractors advertisement is leading the public to believe the contractor is also an inspector.

Technology is a great thing and I love what thermal imaging has done for my business…the problem is when technology benefits many other trades and blurs the lines of individual professions. I’m not against a contractor using thermal imaging for making his job easier…I just don’t want someone offering a service that constitutes a seperate license if they are rendering opinions without proper training , insurance etc. and is flying under the law and requirements I have to abide by in my state.

For states with a home inspector license requirement… clarity in the law may be the only answer. If you have no home inspection law in your state I guess it’s up to you and your organizations standards of practice.

Here is the link to their website:

Based on the information provided they will conduct this service for a fee.

I agree Phillip. Depending on the state/province you live in may make a difference. As a Restoration/Remediation contractor we perform inspections with photo’s, report & a cost of repair for Insurance Co’s. We may then perform the repairs. Are we a HI? Interesting debate.


Thanks for the link David Anderson. I followed up with the state of TN on his licensing. He is listed as a home improvement contractor. His license is specific to repairs and must not engage in work that requires a seperate license. Here is a section of the law.

(b) A license issued pursuant to this part may not be construed to
authorize the licensee to perform any particular type of work or kind of
business which is reserved to qualified licensees under separate
provisions of state or local law.

Full document is here:

I’m sure this language is true in other states as well. You must be protected from other competing services and protect the consumer as well.

It’ not just the technology…it’s how you use it that counts.

I thought most licensed state had something in their wording pertaining to Home Inspection for real estate transactions. We are going to be licensed in NH this year and I guess I should clarify this. Thanks for posting the question.

What do you guys think of this. I am planning on marketing heat loss surveys with a full report of digital and IR pictures. If the client follows through with my recommendation and hires me to do the work I will credit the heat loss survey on the contract for the home repair. Conflict of interest or not. I’ll have to read NHs bill that passed but I don’t think a heat loss survey for a homeowner is the same thing as a home inspection for a real estate transaction.

Not by any strict definition I have ever read of a home inspection.

And there are some out there that owned an IR camera for less than 2 yrs that are selling IR Certs. for $500.00
Yep some simply sell IR training any one can learn on their own with info provided by the IR Mfg’s, and a few hrs. practicing on their own home, or buying a $39.00 CD on IR inspecting :roll::roll:

Sure is:(:frowning:

Looks like the guy uses IR for his home improvment business. It’s a great tool and I am sure it will set him apart from other home improvment businesses in his area.

Nothing wrong with it IMHO.

Nor in mine. I guess one alternative would be buy a garden hose to check suspect areas for water intrusion.

I can see the on the original post. But hey Thermal Infrared isn’t just for HOME INSPECTORS. Instead of looking at others and pointing. Find a way to outdo that person. I would automatically question the “Unbiased” integrity of the inspection. Those who have used thermal infrared can find gaps in the insulation at ANY time. I have NEVER seen one that is perfect. Now a contractor could blow that way out of proportion to try and get some work out of it.

You can’t compete with everything. What I look for is small gaps in what others have NOT done in my area…I was the first home inspector to provide the report on side in my area. I was the first home inspector to use thermal infrared in my area, the first to provide mold, radon, termite and inspections in a one stop shop, the first to become a board certified indoor environmentalist and the only the SECOND person to become an ESA Master Indoor Environmental Specialist and the first in my area to become a INACHI certified Master Insepctor…

I look for a little gap in the market and try to capitalize on it…

Not to provoke an argument, BUT some of youse guys aren’t really thinking things fully through IMHO.

Lets say I’m a contractor in a state with licensed home inspectors. A home owner calls me and says: “I think I may have moisture getting into my wall cavities. I’m not sure where its coming from - could I pay you to come over and check this out for me”

I go over there and take out my moisture meter, IR camera, Milwaukee Sawz-All, scratch awl OR ??? (all just tools) AND walk around looking at the gutters, flashing, siding, trim, joints, window caulking or installation, roofing, etc.

I have a sneaking suspicion that nobody is gonna accuse me of doing a home inspection AND I guarantee YOU if some micro-managing, whiny home inspector who thinks hes the HI police started COMPLAINING I was doing home inspections / I bet any decent self-respecting contractor would find a way to bury a 2x8 in the HI’s ***** and most of us would consider it well deserved.

Just the humble opinion of another home inspector.