Beware the thermal imaging contractor

I personally don’t see a problem with doing this as long as it doesn’t involve the sale of a home.

All of you are making good points on both sides of the issue. However, some are missing the rules in my state. The reason we have home inspector licenses is to protect our public and define the trade from others that require licenses and the others who do not. Home improvement contractors license is clearly defined as to what they are allowed to do for services that require payment. Soliciting home inspection services are not one of them.

Let’s set aside the IR camera for a moment. I only used that argument because it’s the one tools he sees as an opening to justify his cause. I see no problem with using any means to improve you normal course of business.

The problem is if your state defines a home inspection practice …you can not practice that profession without a license. I see the guy as no threat to me…I’ve been doing home/building inspections for 20 years. I just don’t want our law followed and the consumers protected. As TN inspectors we are third parties with no conflict of interest in whether the property sells or not…and who does the work. Is he trying to get inspection work ? Here is a cut from his website.

**If you are in the market of buying a new home, we would be able to assist you in finding any areas like these that you were not expecting to encounter. The bottom line is that you spent pennies compared to what you would have spent in repairs. :shock:
**
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**

In Illinois, the operative words are:

  1. Two or more systems.
  2. Residential property
  3. as part of a real estate transaction.

In Illinois, not GCs, Architects or SEs can do inspections. Only licensed HIs.

Read your state law and, if necessary, call the state licensing board for clarifcation.

If he is doing this not in accordance with the law, report him.

Also, make sure that you advertise that you are trained and certified.

Hope this helps;

I would say this actually would go a little different direction when it comes to IR and the training of it. Currently IR has no governing body. If you are level I or II certified does that allow you to do the inspections your training has taught you? That is what I think the question should be…I do not know the answer.

This line is already being crossed, and will be even more in the future. An insulation contractor, roofer, hvac company, and the list goes on, stands to gain more by doing the inspection themselves. They can get the inspection and the work. An inspector only gets the inspection. The good news for an inspector is a smart contractor is not going to do the inspection for free. They could potentially go out and do the inspection, then bid the work, then lose the work to another contractor. Net loss for that contractor.

80% of the camera sales, we get, are for building diagnostics of one form or another. At least 1/2 of those include a blower door. Out of those maybe 20% are to home inspectors. My point is, many people are getting in to this business. In my 17 years of test and measurement equipment and construction supplies, I have never seen an item that is over $4,000 that moves out the door as often as thermal imagers do.

Jason Kaylor – JJ
VP of Sales
877/207-1244
AC Tool Supply](http://www.aikencolon.com/)
Fluke Thermal Imagers](http://www.aikencolon.com/Fluke-IR-Thermal-Imagers_c_578.html)
FLIR Thermal Imagers
Fluke TiR1 Resources
FLIR B60 Resources](http://www.flir-b60.com/)
Retrotec Blower Door / Duct](http://www.aikencolon.com/Retrotec-Air-Blower-Door-Duct-Systems_c_1074.html)

Jason, you make some very good points. Many HVAC companies in my area are using IR now. I happen to own a construction company as well as a home inspection business. I offer heat loss surveys which are actually that, just a survey using my 25 years of remodeling/building experience along with mt IR camera, moisture meter, flashlight, eyes, nose and a few other tools.
When my construction company does a heat loss survey we make recommendation to correct the problem starting with what will save the client the most. This spring I’m offering a free heat loss survey with the purchase of the energy home improvements that where made in the report. If they decide to go with another contractor then so be it. I also do an after survey to show the clients that the work performed corrected the problem.

With that said, I have been inspecting home part time for over 10 years and this subject always comes up. A long time ago I decided that I would never blend the two businesses together and have drawn a strict line in the sand so to speak and never crossed it. So, if I get a call from a client that is loosing to much heat and wants some technical help in solving the problem I don’t see anything wrong with doing a heat loss survey with a recommendation to correct the problem. As I said before if it doesn’t pertain to a real estate transaction and you are doing just an IR survey there is no ethics violation.

A long time ago, even way before joining INachi, I started having brain cramps trying to separate “inspections” from evaluating problems for a client for an estimate. What finally worked for me was to rename the evaluating to “troubleshoot” rather than “inspect” and that seems to have stuck and clearly defined the two functions at least in my own mind. All my verbage in phone calls and written have become “troubleshoot” for things I might work on and “inspect” for only real estate inspections. “Inspect” to me still implies “inspection”, “troubleshoot” kinda sorta says “there is a problem, look for a solution”. I have read the new NH state law many times but it seems to refer to the new board for clearly defining what “inspections” actually are (the state SOP); I’d have to refer to the board (Carla would know much more) though. Anyhow, good discussions with food for thought on this post.

My interpretation is inspections are for real estate transactions. At least that’s why Senator Cilley presented this consumer protection bill. Like I said before, I draw a very strict line when it comes to inspecting or repairing. I never work on a home I’ve inspected and I never inspect a home I’ve worked on, unless of course the ownership has changed.

Taken from Wikepedia:
A property inspection is the examination for purposes of evaluating a property’s condition. In purchasing property, a “whole house inspection” tries to detect defects in the property.

I think the comments by Jason are right on…he’s knows the IR business and who is buying them. Truth is…with the economy and housing market slow down there are more contractors looking for extra income or an “edge” over the competition. Many see the IR camera technology as a way to impress the client and make more accurate bids for repairs…nothing wrong with that.

I think in states that require a HI license should define an inspection as the first line of evaluation of unknown defects in a real estate transaction AND includes two or more components of the home that are listed in the states SOP. The components would involve those described as relevant to a home inspection. Everyone else that is unlicensed or a contractor is excluded from this evaluation method. That would protect the inspector’s licensed trade and the consumer from someone who gives false information to get repair work. The rule would apply to visual as well as technical methods used by the licensed inspector. If the inspector does not have the knowledge, expertise or technology…then they refer the client to another source. We do that already in the home inspection industry.

Allowing contractors to advertise, promote and solicite first line evaluations of two or more different systems in a home is a bad road to go down. It crosses the lines of licensed trades and opens the door for conflicts of interest. The contractor would also be exempt from providing a written report based on unbiased information. Another bad deal for the consumer.

I think you have the two confused. First, any contractor that invests 5-10k in IR equipment and training is not going out to " impress the client" we are clearly looking at the new technology available to us just like a home inspector does. Second, when a client calls or we advertise our IR service whether for heat loss or moisture intrusion both myself and the client know what the expectations are and those are spelled out in the contract to perform these services. Lastly, I would like to say that here in NH we are presently phasing in licensing of home inspectors which will start this year. The scope of work or definition of an inspection does not say anything about IR. This is a totally separate field. If we were to start calling IR investigations, which is technically what they are, inspections then every remediation service would have to have a home inspectors license, this would include, HVAC, moisture companies such as Servpro, roofing companies and so on. I think what your talking about is rare, just like the unlicensed plumber or electrician that does work as a handy man under the table for cash. Those individuals have been around for years and will continue to be around as long as someone is looking for a cheap fix.

Professional trades people are just that, professional, let’s not mix the two into the same category.

JMHO

PS, as I stated, we are phasing in home inspection licensing here in NH but contractors are still un-licensed. This has always been a point of contention with me because as a contractor I can go out and demo. someones house and rebuild it without a licence but I can’t inspect the same house. Hopefully this will be corrected.

Lets not forget the paranormal investigators as well. I get at least 3 calls a week from those types of “inspectors” looking to rent cameras. You guys should get ahold of those companies then find out the houses they did and sell the real inspection. I am very sure those cold spots are air intrusions.

Just as a side note of interest. We sell both ServPro and Service Master cameras. However, they do not use them for what you would think they would be using it for. They often have issues getting paid from the insurance companies. The insurance company wants to argue that there was no damage in the first place sometimes. So they take infrared before and after pictures, as proof.

That brings up another side benefit of infrared. Many people have a certain sterotype of certain professions. Mechanics, realitors, roofers, used car salesmen, etc. For the mechanics, roofers, etc, infrared adds to thier viability.

That is way off track for this thread, but just an interesting thought a customer gave me a couple of weeks ago. It would not shock me that infrared scan/inspections will be something that people will want with certain purchases in the future.

Jason Kaylor – JJ
VP of Sales
877/207-1244
AC Tool Supply](http://www.aikencolon.com/)
Fluke Thermal Imagers
FLIR Thermal Imagers
Fluke TiR1 Resources
FLIR B60 Resources](http://www.flir-b60.com/)
Retrotec Duct & Blower Door](http://www.aikencolon.com/Retrotec-Air-Blower-Door-Duct-Systems_c_1074.html)