Clarksville Home Inspection

An investigative solution provided through thermal imaging.

A request for inspection was initiated based upon a “musty smell” in the area of the kitchen sink and a parent water damage to a recently installed floor.

Thermal imaging indicated extensive airflow through the base cabinets at this location.

It did not identify elevated moisture in the hardwood flooring.

Electronic moisture meter testing did not indicate elevated moisture in the hardwood flooring with contact, “pin” testing.
Ultrasonic electronic moisture testing indicated slightly elevated moisture in a small area within proximity of the damage flooring.

Inspection in the crawl space disclosed (after removal of floor joists installation) considerable deterioration, mold and mushrooms growing in the subfloor. Slugs hanging out on the foundation wall. The adjacent air-conditioning duct containing approximately 6 gallons of water.

Thermal imaging of the exterior of the house was conducted under adverse weather conditions. There was insufficient temperature differential. The exterior of the house was wet from previous rainfall. In spite of conditions being poor, and that heat conduction of vinyl siding is very inefficient, indications of moisture entering wall structure from the second-floor window area was evident.

Electronic moisture detection below the air conditioner showed very little elevated moisture readings, however thermal imaging showed an extensive area of evaporative cooling in the carpet.

Removal of vinyl siding verified moisture between the siding and the oriented strand board. Removal of siding is outside of the scope of home inspections unless the client is the homeowner.

Thermal imaging on the interior of the house was conducted under adverse conditions, but still identified ceiling moisture between the first and second floors.

Fiber-optic scopes were utilized beneath the kitchen sink which identified moisture intrusion from the exterior wall to the HVAC supply air duct.

Even when adverse testing conditions exists, careful examination of indicators that are available can result in a successful investigation and building inspection even under the most adverse conditions. Emphasis must be placed on “careful examination”.

Home Inspectors rely on a wide array of test equipment and inspection practices to evaluate conditions that are not visible or accessible. Relying on a single piece of equipment reduces the inspector’s ability to assess the condition accurately. Home Inspectors that have test equipment, but only bring about if the client pays for it will miss a lot.

I find it extremely difficult to walk away from an inspection without performing tests that are necessary, even when the client refuses to compensate for this testing. I find myself in a dilemma as to whether I should remain the most expensive home inspector on the block, or give away services for free. I guess we all must draw that line somewhere based on our individual business decisions.

No matter which path you choose, there are adverse aspects.
You lose business trying to compete with Wal-Mart home inspectors and you increase your liability and may lose money defending litigation claims if you decline to give the services away for free. Also nobody can afford to give away services and still pay for a $16,000 thermal imaging camera (or other related test equipment)!

In this lousy economy, there is a sensitive balance between these options. The homebuyer requires a more in-depth inspection, but cannot or is not willing to compensate the home inspector so they can keep up with technology by investing money that is not readily available for this expansion.

Any thoughts?

All good points David. Only the upper end buyers understand the value of further inspection and the benefits form these additional inspection. Under these condition we can only point out the limited information that is accessible. And advise the buyers on the need for further inspection. Its been my understanding that most litigation claims have a moisture issue at the heart of the case. I for one will point out these adverse condition or any indication of a moisture to the buyers.

Just yesterday I inspected a home that had been inspected by 2 other Inspectors and they both did not Indicated the brick veneer at the front of the home in there reports. Only that they should keep it caulk and sealed. I did just a bit more in my inspection With IR and a moisture meters These tools pointed me in the right direction. The area noted that termites and an excessive moisture condition was visible just under the carpet at the tack strips and adjacent area.

My report requires the buyers to have all the brick veneer removed from the front of the home to expose all the damage from the termites and moisture condition from the past 25 years. about $ 10K

I would say use your test equipment in a limited way for your benefit.
These tools do you no good in there box. pull them out and then put the back. Or explain to the buyer that you can provide more information for an additional fee…




Good home inspectors will take whatever time is required to uncover suspected problems. I have been involved in some inspections when you know there is a problem, but finding the source is difficult if not impossible without invasive action. Spending an additional hour or more attempting to identify the problem is something that I do without thinking about my fee. Over the course of a year, the inspection times will tend to balance, as some inspections are completed in less than the average time.

Yes, we are undercompensated for what we do, if you save the average buyer $1500+ in repair/replacement costs, multiply that # by the total inspections completed in your career. You have probably exceeded one million dollars in total client savings!

We refer to our fee as an investment, not an expense. Too many potential clients are still looking for the bargain price. Even including the infrared scans is not enough to convince price shoppers to use our services. It all comes down to the fact that I enjoy my work and will continue to strive for improvement and set inspection fees to make a little profit.

Wow… really good post by everyone. Thanks.

I always use my camera. I always strive to do the best job possible. Basic infrared inspection is not an option for my inspections - it is included. Advanced infrared services are options. My general pricing is higher than competitors to attempt to make up for this additional service. Do I always get the premium I want? No. Do I always walk away feeling that I provided the best service possible - YES.

I justify this to myself in a number of ways.

  1. As Chuck said, to some extent it balances out over the year. For example, I have one newer neighborhood that I have done over 200 warranty inspections in the last 2 years. I don’t have to advertise there anymore, it is all referral. The houses range from 1400 - 3000 square feet. I charge a set flat rate price in the neighborhood. I know people are referring me and that they will talk about price. The work balances out. Using infrared was instrumental in developing the business in that neighborhood.

  2. Referrals are way up since adding infrared - particularly from people for whom I find something with infrared that would not have been found without it. So in many cases I can directly attribute additional inspections to an inspection that I used my Infrared for “free” or without the mark up I would want in a perfect world. But at the end of the week or month or year, I have in fact made that premium I wanted from the referred inspections that cost me nothing to acquire. My business share of the market continues to go up. I have lowered prices in some cases since the economy downturn - I don’t like it, but I recognize the need. If my schedule is light, I would rather have the work. Before the downturn, I was pushing prices hard. I was booked out at least a week all the time. Now things are more up and down, but in general I am on track to match last years numbers - though it will mean I probably do a few more inspections. So I feel that my general thoroughness as well as the IR have helped me maintain and even expand my market share, despite the tough economy. I can live with that. When things turn back around completely, I will still be strongly in business, will have an even larger market share, and will adjust my pricing back up and possibly add inspectors accordingly. But through it all, regardless of the economy, the quality of my inspection process will remain as high as I can make it. Being the “highest priced inspector” in the area is great if you are as busy, but if you are sitting at home it means very little.

I will admit that I’m not a home inspector, so I don’t know all about the liabiity issues.

But how about using a “Moisture Inspection” as an upsell. If you find anything that looks suspicious, you say something like this:
“I’ve found (insert your concern here). These issues are very difficult to find. I’d recommend a “thermal imaging survey” (and here is where you show the IR image) to go along with the home inspection. (Insert the benefits here). Since this is in conjunction with a home inspection, it’s only $200, which is half the normal price, since I don’t have to travel.”

Now you have informed them in a very positive way that they are NOT getting the most complete inspection without the additional survey. If they do not take your professional advise, then it’s partially their fault if all the issues are not uncovered.

  1. Upsell the inspection
  2. Reduce you liability
  3. Impress the client with a high-tech survye

It’s a win-win-win