Does thermal imaging add a significant amount of time to an inspection?

It seems a lot of inspectors view an infrared camera as “just another tool,” like a moisture meter or an outlet tester. I don’t see the sense in that, because an outlet tester only takes two seconds per outlet to use, and a moisture meter isn’t even used unless a water stain or leak is detected, but an infrared camera would be used in EVERY room, right? So, wouldn’t that add a significant amount of time, like AT LEAST an hour, to an inspection on an average-size house?

I can understand offering thermal imaging as a separate service, but I can’t see using it for every inspection unless the price for an inspection was increased BECAUSE thermal imaging is being used, which would price me too far above the local market.

So I guess my questions are…
Do you use an infrared camera in every room of a house?
Do you include it with every inspection and just charge more for an inspection (and how much?) or do you only offer it as a separate service?

I use my IR camera without extra charge to verify HVAC operation, to investigate signs of moisture intrusion, and sometimes out of boredom if I’m waiting for the client to show up at the end.

I charge extra if the client wants the whole home imaged. It is an add-on service (ancillary service) in that case.

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It is a very useful tool. It adds about 15 minutes to the total.

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Think about it this way, how long does it take you to visually (with your eyes) scan a bedroom? Having an IR Camera in one hand and a regular camera (or phone) in the other doesn’t add any real time. Two birds, One stone… I use mine regularly, and only add the images to the report if an anomaly is detected, just part of the job.

Now if the client wants thermal imaging of the whole house in addition to what’s included, like a secondary inspection w/report, then it becomes an ancillary service. Still just do it as you go and it really doesn’t add much to the time on location.

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I apologize for the late reply. Thank you all very much for the info. I appreciate it!

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Welcome to the forum, Michael.
Like any added piece of equipment, extra time is used to extract data. I feel it’s well worth the effort and clients love the accuracy especially with infrared. Scanning a wall or ceiling assembly pinpoints suspect conditions that can be verified with equipment or if you are a level inspector can call out the defect and remedies, at a certain level mind you…

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HI Michael, I use my thermal camera in every room as well. Most of the homes I inspect have in floor radiant heat. This is the best tool by far to confirm operation of in floor heat, radiant ceiling het as well. I charge per square foot an include it in all my inspections. In floor heat is tricky to confirm and this makes it a breeze!

Thanks for the reply, Alan. Do you charge more for an inspection WITH thermal imaging than you would if you were not using it? My main issue with it is that inspectors seem to be including it for nothing. That doesn’t make any sense to me, considering it costs well over $500 for a decent camera, it does add time to an inspection, and they’re providing a service that they’re not being compensated for. That would be like taking your car for an oil change, and the mechanic also changes the brake fluid, but doesn’t charge you. And if I was to buy a camera and increase my inspection prices, that would price me too far above the competition around here. I’m just starting out in this business, so at this point, I’m not even considering buying one, but I don’t know.

My guess is that those who are doing it for nothing, are probably giving their clients their money’s worth.

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I couldn’t say. Some of the inspection prices around my area are on the low side, which is my main reason for not wanting to include it for nothing, and it makes me question how inspectors can possibly include an additional service for free.

That was kinda what I was saying. If they are giving it away, they don’t value it, probably because there isn’t much value in what they are doing. So the client is paying nothing, and getting basically nothing.

Oh oh oh, I gotcha. Sorry, I have a lot on my mind at the moment, and misunderstood your reply. Definitely agree with you on that

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My inspection fee is more than most. I included it with no additional charge. However, it is hidden in the fee.

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No. It’s rolled into the base price. If you don’t use it then it’s simply more money in your pocket. Besides, if you don’t use a thermal camera, how do you expect to find that hidden (not obvious or visible) water leak, the lack of insulation in an exterior wall, the leaking heating duct under the floor, or as @asenter said - check the in floor radiant heat?

Not necessarily, you can find really good deals on them if you know how to shop. Start with a not so expensive/basic model and upgrade over time. Let your tools make the money to pay for the more expensive “Cadillac” cameras that have more bells and whistles than you need.

Look at it this way,

When you go to Grease Monkey to get an oil change, they include checking other stuff, topping off the window washer fluid, etc… Do you really think it costs Grease Monkey $60 to give your car that service? Of course it doesn’t. Their cost is more like $10 to $15 The rest is profit. If you shop right and jump on the deals at the local parts store, and do the work yourself, you could do all of what they do in the same amount of time for half of what they charge you.

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I’m going off topic a bit here, but if a home has been vacant, how long would you have to run the heat or AC to bring the interior air and walls to a temperature where a camera can detect a lack of insulation in walls? And for a water leak, if a house has been vacant, would a simple test of each plumbing fixture produce enough water for a hidden leak in a wall or ceiling to be visible on a camera?

Assuming, the home is a single family house (not a condo, apartment, or townhouse) and has been vacant for some time, AND assuming that the HVAC system has been OFF and not functioning during this time of vacancy, AND assuming the entire house is 100% shaded from the sun, AND assuming that the indoor ambient temperature has been the same as outdoor temperature for long enough for all of the wall’s components to have equalized, it would take a while to create enough temperature differential to using only the HVAC system. However, this unicorn would be a special kind of special.

If the water has been turned OFF for this extended vacancy AND anything that was affected by a leak in the plumbing system had 100% dried, then NO. Unless of course it is a substantial leak and you turned the water service on yourself. . .

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I am puzzled by this statement. Clarify please.

Around here, almost all houses for sale are single family houses, and are vacant for weeks. What would your process be if the heat or AC has been off for AT LEAST a few days? Same thing with plumbing leaks….it wouldn’t be uncommon for a sink or a toilet to not be run for several days to maybe even a couple weeks during the sale of a house.

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Every article I’ve read seems to talk about cameras that cost at least $600, with most being well over that. I’ve also read an article where they criticize inspectors who buy a cheap camera for a couple hundred dollars, so not really sure what to think. The cheapest “good” camera I’ve found would be the FLIR C3 or C5.

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My IR camera cost $8,000.00. $600.00 is cheap.