Charge separately for Thermal Imaging?

I will complete my level 1 and building science training soon and then will be offering thermal imaging. My question is how are most of those that currently offer it charging for it? See the poll for the options. All opinions welcome.

I find so much stuff with it, I would feel blind without it.
Below is a wall that has no visible signs of moisture with
out seeing it with the IR camera. The edge of the water
heater is seen on the far right.

I will not do an inspection without it now.

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As I have posted before, if you charge extra for thermal imaging, as part of a home inspection, you are raising your liability.

Situation:

You book a home inspection. When the client asks for price, you quote them one price for regular and one for regular with thermal imaging (say, $100.00 more).

The client (being a normal client) chooses no thermal imaging (they are cheap. Go figure).

You do the regular inspection and do a good job and do not use the camera. Let’s say it is an older house, say 15 years old. you find the usual stuff that you normally find and write your report and the client is happy and all is right with the world.

The client moves in. About 2 to 4 months later, you get a call. They are seeming:

a) Water stains around the inside of the windows, at the lawer corners.
b) Water stains on the fireplace mantle (like John McKenna found, by using thermal imaging) because there is water getting in the chase.
c) The A/C ducts in the attic does not have their insulation properly wrapped and there is humidity condensing and dripping on the ceiling.

or many other things that thermal imaging would have shown.

The client sues you. You go to court. The client’s lawyer asks you why you didn’t find these things. You reply, “I would have, but they didn’t pay extra for the thermal imaging.”

And, you look like a money hungry ***.

I simply charge more, for regular inspections, and I market thermal imaging in and of itself. Energy Audit inspections, water intrusion inspections, insulation inspections, etc.

My best conduit for marketing has been to do my inspection and use the camera as part of it and when people (especially Realtors (ESPECIALLY, the seller’s Realtor!!)) ask what I am doing, I go into “show off and teach” mode. I do the water intrusion thing and the “see the A/C (or heat) duct in the wall” thing and the “put your hand on the wall and count to 5” thing (to show the sensitivity) and the “missing insulation at the wall / ceiling interfaces” thing, but make sure to explain that this is normally seen and not a big problem. Usually, the seller’s Realtor (and sometimes, the seller!) are begging me for my card and wanting to refer me. Works about 2/3s of the time.

Call me is you want more ideas.

Hope this helps;

My Inspection Agreement would specifically address this, something along the lines of:

Infrared Imagining is a seperate, specialized service that is outside the scope of a standard home inspection. The Client agrees to not hold the Inspector liable for latent defects outside the scope of a standard home inspection that could be revealed by Infrared Imagining, unless the Client agrees to pay the additional service fee and signs the Infrared Imagining Contract.

Personally, I would love to purchase an IR camera and simply tack the additional expense to my inspection rates. Problem with that concept, at least in my market, is that there is a decent contingent of those who I would likely alienate because they would be disinterested in paying more for such an additional service. I also feel there is a decent contingent that would be estatic about paying an extra $75 for this invaluable service, provided that my marketing for it is very strong and well placed. But right now, I just don’t have a feasible plan to create the demand necessary to pay off the camera’s purchase, as well as its marketing campaign.:neutral:

Nick,

No slam intended, but you might want to run that verbiage past your lawyer. As I understand it, Wisconsin is the same as Illinois with regards to this. The scope of the inspection, as defined by your contract, is the only standards of practice that you will be held to. Contract law.

So, you won’t be sued for violation of your contract, but for negligence (a totally different thing) because you have the ability, and means, to find a defect and didn’t. Whether you pay for it or not or whether they opt not to pay for it is not the issue. You had the ability and are in a fiduciary relationship.

Don’t ask me why. They law does not make sense, but it is still the law.

Good points Will. Thanks.

Mr Wagner,

You bring up an excellent point regarding the struggle of raising prices.

Most inspectors have encountered the low ball “price shopper” for so
long that it is hard to imagine how many “quality minded shoppers”
are really out there.

If you market mainly to Realtors, then you will be finding more
“price shoppers” in that lower pond. Those who go by the Realtors list
of choices are a different breed than those who break away and
look for their own inspector on the internet. Internet shoppers
seem more willing to pay more for better quality… IMHO.

Marketing on the internet cost a little money and requires some SEO
and web skills… but not that much. If you can develop some
internet marketing skills, get listed on some good directories,
and get in on some good pay per click ads… you will now find the
“higher priced pond” so to speak.

Here is a chart of various degrees of shoppers in 3 ponds.

PRICE FIRST… PRICE & MABEY QUALITY…QUALITY FIRST
() (**********) (*****************)

As you raise your prices you will indeed offend the lower pond price shoppers.
NOW add more BENEFITS AND VALUE for the higher pond shopper.
Many in the middle pond will go to the higher pond if they can see that you
offer something superior (thermal imaging is a huge plus).

I gradually went from $190 to $450 over an 18 month period (no add on’s)
With my add on services, it averages over $500. Thermal imaging is included
as part of the normal deal. I live in a very depressed area of east Texas.
But, because of the internet, I get calls from as far away as Dallas, Houston,
and Austin. I sometimes chage as much as $900 for a normal house, but this
covers my added time and travel expense. I live way out in the country.

If I loose 20 low price shoppers but pick up 10 higher pond shoppers…
I will still be making more money, but with less gas, time and work.

What I discovered was a whole pond of higher end shoppers who buy
bigger houses and desire higher quality inspections. They were there,
but I had to travel the unknown path of leaving the lower pond
to find them.

I figure that the thermal imaging camera will cost me $50 per inspection
until it is paid for. I bought it with a 0% credit card. I got a huge
discount from PE.com … Now the camera is paying for itself.
I feel more secure, because I find tons of stuff that my eyes cannot see.
You have more time for your family and if you want, you can do more
marketing with your extra time.

I met Nick about 9 months back at chapter meeting and he confirmed
what I had stumbled across by accident. I say by accident because
I was raising my prices because I was trying to make more time to
help my son with taking on more construction.

I was enhancing my internet presence because I was tired of the
yellow page results.

Nick came along and confirmed in his teaching about “raising prices”
that is a good marketing plan. It made sense, because my income
did not go down, but I unknowingly made the journey across to
the higher end pond. Thank you Nick Gromicko. He really added
some good info on answering the phone that has been a benefit as well.

If you ever get a chance to hear Nick teach, go for it. :mrgreen:

(Disclaimer: Everyone should set their own price and I am not endorsing
price fixing or seeking to form an agreement that we should raise prices.)

Are you saying that I could be tried for neglegence when a Client specifically agreed in contract to waive their right to use an auxillary service and even agrees to hold me harmless for such a choice?:shock:

I could see that if I failed to provide some form of written disclosure on the ability of IR while failing to clearly state the inspection limitations, they could attack me with something along the lines of “If he actually told us what he would have found with IR, we would have paid extra to find what his eyes could not. Now he owes us $$$$$$ for those two windows that formed water stains along the drywall about a year and a half after the inspection, since he was neglegent for not informing me!”

I certainly hope that I would not be found neglegent for a past client’s lung cancer because he ignored my narrative on it, as well as my offer to perform a radon test for a reduced fee. Or for a client who developed mesophelioma because she tore out that popcorn ceiling herself when I very strongly urged her both orally and in the report to have it professionally tested, a service I now provide. Or one who was not interested in a mold test that found toxic mold inside one of the bathroom walls …

Mr Wagner,

What Will is saying is that pro active discovery of defects is a better
defence than depending on the SoP to cover you for what was not found.

Lawyers will “bypass” the SoP and ask you why you neglected to use
your thermal camera for a few minutes. They can make you look really
bad and they can make the SoP’s protection look very weak.

Better to find it, than to explain why you did not. If you have the
thermal camera, it’s better to use it. (BTW…you can’t be accused of not
using the camera if you don’t have one).

Yeah! What he said.

Will the IR camera show hot spots in engines, where there is a big difference in temperatures? I believe I have seen someone here talk about how it will show injuries in a person or animals body right? Thanks, Ken P.S. I really want one, I think they are truly awesome!

Oh no, you mean I can be sued for my imagination? :wink: Sorry Nick, just having fun with a typo.

Good catch Ken.

I’m still trying to comprehend how they can sue you for your opinion. After all that’s what a home inspection is - your opinion of the home’s condition.

Because they hired and paid you based on the fact that you advertised that you could
provide them with a professional inspection service, and then they suffer damage
from your negligence.

The word “damage” is one of the main points of any law suite.

I believe that one of the great problems for home inspectors, and a potential problem for this board, is when people go here looking for a legal or business decision. If you are looking for a legal opinion or legal help, this ain’t the place to get it. People try to do things on the cheap and, usually, wind up getting hosed.

People tend to think that the law is based upon login and reason and common sense.

IT IS NOT! :shock:

Legal issues are based upon precident, on legal arguments and on what went before, as written by lawyers, legal scholars and judges, all of which exist is “law land” and not in the real world. In addition, being innocent has nothing to do with getting off or avoiding legal problems. Furthermore, HACHI covers at least 2 counties, 50 (U.S.) states, probably thousand of counties and tens of thousands (at least0 of local municipalities. Each one of these legal jutrisdictions has its own criminal and civil laws (and if you don’t know the difference between these two, you have no business making legal decisions on your own) and multiple local ordinances and building codes.

I say this, having a Father who was a lawyer, a g-dfather who was a circuit court judge, an uncle who was a 24 year federal judge and a number of friends and relatives who were lawyers, judges and para-legals. And, having lived through these people arguing, debating and working with the law, and having read most of my Dad’s law books (he made me. He wanted me to be a lawyer. I confess!), I realize that I know thing (really) about the law and have a good friend of mine who is my lawyer and handles ALL my legal work.

To enter this world (and its legal pitfalls) without being thoroughly protected by your own lawyer (and one who is specifically versed in litigation, HI law (if there are any in your state), personal injury law, civil law and risk management) you are, sooner or later, going to get real jammed up.

this is the simple fact.

SO:

I would heavily advise anyone on this entire board who thinks thay can enter or do the job of home inspection “on the cheap” and rely on this board for their legal advise is, quite simply, too stupid to be in any kind of business.

No slam intended. Just staing the plain, clear facts for anyone who is interested in the truth. Those who disagree with this post, I wish you luck.

I agree with Will and John. I chose #2, although a combination of #2 and #3 is more accurate.

After using IR you feel blind without it. I shudder to think of what I didn’t see, and legitimately disclaimed, all the time I did not have IR. I would much rather not do an inspection for someone at all, than to do it without my IR. Lowball price shoppers are not my favorite customer anyway. Regardless of the legal debate, that is how I feel and how I can sleep at night.

Since my camera was stolen, I have had to refuse to do about $4,000 worth of inspections (inspections of a type where I really needed the camera. Water intrusion, flood damage assessment, etc. No plain old home inspections) and have been VERY careful about doing regular home inspections.

I have found myself checking each and every window frame (below the sill) with my water meter and spending a lot more time looking at crawlspaces, attics and basement walls.

BTW: My first point is an important one to those who don’t believe that they can get enough work to justify the camera cost. In a little over 2 weeks, I had to turn away enough business to almost pay for the camera itself.

What if you offer pest or radon inspections and the client declines only later to find out there is a considerable problem, same scenario just different types of inspection.

Hey big guy(Will) I think I will disagree with you on this one to promote discussion of thermal imaging fees.:wink:

I’ll raise a few points here and encourage other to chime in with more.

-Since the use of a Imaging camera is well outside the scope of the NACHI and various state SOPs, why shouldn’t this be considered an ancillary service with additional charges to the client above the “normal” home inspection pricing?

-If you offer the thermal imaging service to the client and they specifically decline via your PIA, why would you see any increased liability? (Much like offering mold sampling services)

-If thermal imaging becomes part of a standard home inspection all I see is increased overhead to the inspector and only the possibility of raising fees. Comments?

Hope this helps;

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlarson
*Hey big guy(Will) I think I will disagree with you on this one to promote discussion of thermal imaging fees.:wink:

I’ll raise a few points here and encourage other to chime in with more.

-Since the use of a Imaging camera is well outside the scope of the NACHI and various state SOPs, why shouldn’t this be considered an ancillary service with additional charges to the client above the “normal” home inspection pricing?

Just because some new technique is out of the scope of some private association or state SOPs does not mean it is not part of a home inspection. Remember, SOPs, like local codes are the bare minimum requirements.

Well that may be a problem because now the individual inspector decides what is included in a home inspection. :wink:
-Why shouldn’t this be considered an ancillary servivce?

-If you offer the thermal imaging service to the client and they specifically decline via your PIA, why would you see any increased liability? (Much like offering mold sampling services).

As previously shown, adherence to an SOP or having a written contract does not provide complete protection from liability. You can fully fulfill the terms of a contract and still be sued. You are not being sued for not fulfilling a contract, but for negligence. Remember, fiduciary responsibility (which all licesned inspectors have) goes way beyond the duties written in a contract. The best protection from liability is to do the bes job possible. There are many stories on this board of HIs being sued for thinsg that were not “visable” at the time of the inspection, but that would heve been seen by using thermal imaging. These guys are being sued even if they don’t have the cameras.

*That goes without saying IMHO. Anyone can be sued for anything. Please explain how it’s negligence to not use a thermal imaging camer on an inspection. With that line of thinking you would need to start including many more invasive procedures to avoid the negligance claim if you failed to find a laten defect.
The PIA should determine the scope of the inspection. Nothing more Nothing less.
-I haven’t seen how E&O providers look at thermal imaging or other ancillary services one provides. Have you?
*
-If thermal imaging becomes part of a standard home inspection all I see is increased overhead to the inspector and only the possibility of raising fees.

That remains to be seen. Time will tell.

Looks like it already has in some cases.:shock: