Anyone out there using infared cameras? Do they help your business. Which types are you using? Have been thinking about it but the cost is still high
I just leased a FLIR BCam SD!
I am also seriously considering going in this direction, I was involved in diagnostic imaging in UK, before the technology was so accessible. The range of issues uncovered was pretty mindblowing. However this is an area in domestic inspection that may take building inspection too far in terms of what is “palatable” for realtors, and realistic for clients.
I would be interested how clients/realtors would react to a building that looks great, but has these unseen defects.
Another question is if its an add on, or just used to confirm suspicions of the inspector of possible problems, I’ve seen a few discussions either way about possible liability issues. I guess you are upping the ante in terms of clients expectations in having a “perfect” home.
Possibly the same arguments could be said about using moisture metres.
For me this raises the possibility of doing a “premium” Inspection which would include more technology, for example better drain tile evaluation and electronic building elevation levels.
Aahhh, but it could be just the thing to market to pre-listing inspections, provided one has the money left over I guess.
and it may work well with that Home Maintenance program somebody has around here also, I forget who has that though.
I have purchased a camera from Inspection Depot. First time I used it I found a leaking shower. I am still getting used to it so I am not charging for it yet. Inspection Depot also put on a very good class
True enough, but it may pose some moral dilemmas when it come to sellers disclosures.
I have been using a FLIR B-Cam for over a year now (Boy, did I really want a B2).
I include it in every regular home inspection. I charge more than most, but when I explain its use, the clients seem to understand. Plus, it has save my sorry butt many times (window flashing failure, leaky roof, electrical service equipment problems). Plus, it just plain impresses the heck out of the client, and the RE agents!
PLEASE!!! Take the training (level 1 certification). I, too, was involved in the development of this technology, way back in 1978, at the University of Chicago, Billings Hospital, when the first were evaluating it for use in breast cancer testing (nice work, if you can get it :mrgreen: ).
BUT, you gotta know how to use it. If you don’t, you are opening a big bag of liability for yourself.
PLEASE!!! Take the level one cert course.
Hope this helps;
Funny… after all the rain we’ve been having we must be on the same wave length. I’ve also thought about this, and whether or not it should/would be included as part of a regular Home Inpsection, or as a Specialized IR Moisture Inspection.
~ I agree with other posters that carrying it with you on Home Inspections would be a good pre-training ground…
~ I agree that learning how to use it properly and effectively (training) would definaytly be important…
~ I think that there could be certain conflict of issues with certain things… For example - you perform a Home Inspection… you say to your client:
You: “Based on what I see here (a, b & c) I suspect that you may have moisture in behind here. I recommend a specialized evaluation by a moisture specialist.”
Client: “Good idea… how much does that cost”
Client: “You really think I should?”
You: “To be on the safe side… yes.”
Client: “Okay. Can you recommend anyone”
You: “Absolutely… wait right here while I go back to my truck and get my other company ball cap and tool box”.
That said… I do believe it is a valuable service, but I’m not sure how to “place” it in my quiver of available services, and can’t help but think that to use it as an included part of your standard home inspection is going waaaay above and beyond. We are trained to (or supposed to be) find clues which indicate potential underlying problems. As a result of these clues we recommend options… like the general doctor who says, “Yep… your knee is FUBAR… I’m referring you to an Orthopedic Surgeon and a Physio Therapist”. To offer a IR moisture service as part of our regular inspection, are we not acting as a General Doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon all in one? Is this okay?
Okay… a thought… I think that to offer - right up front - various options to the client insofar as different types of inspections (Standard, Hi-Tech with 007 Gadgetry, 4-point, etc…) is great and there are no issues as you have been specifically hired to pull out your high-tech weaponry. I guess I just think that (1) if an inspector uses a IR Cam as part of their regular inspection they are selling themselves and their service short (unless they are doubling their inspection price) - but to refer yourself to a client, for an on-site upgrade, seems like it could be exploited too easily.
One other question, Paul… Did you used to drive a bus?
I include it in my normal inspections. I started doing so because I was on a learning curve. But, after I learned how to do it, I found in invaluable. It is a real liability deterent, as well as a marketing tool.
If there is a leaking dormer flashing, or skylight, or unsealed wall penetration on the 3rd floor of a condo (dryer vent), I don’t want to be in the position of trying to explain, in a court of law, that I am ‘just a generalist’. Lawsuit attorneys care little about standards of practice, and juries are not far behind. I back up (double check) all moisture readings with a deep probing moisture meter.
On the marketing side, I always include a thermal picture of the attic (usually two) even if I see no problems. “Thermal imaging reveals no signs of active water leakage into the roof decking or increased moisture levels in its structural members.” It imresses the heck out of the clients. Cool pictures (a picture is worth a thousand words) in the report impress the client, make the issue clear (even if the image is just to prove that there is no problem) and covers my precious butt. It also brings the “fear of G-d” into smarmy general contractors. They are not arguing with me, they are arguing with their own eyes. RE lawyers love it as well. It’s all about limiting liability.
There are special inspections, not part of RE transactions and not regulated under our State’s HI law. EIFS inspections. Searching for water seepage behind the walls in finished basements. Plumbers and CGs looking for leaks in hydronic floor pipes. Roofers looking for flashing failures.
And, yes, I raised my prices. The average HI price for an under 2,500 SF SFH runs around $285.00 I charge $400.00. $500.00 for 2,501 - 4,000 SF, $600.00 for 4,001 - 6,000 SF and 1/10 of 1 percent of the list price for 6,001 SF and up.
One must remember that the standards of practice (even NACHI’s, which are higher than our State’s) are like local building codes. They are a minimum standard.
Some HIs do the minimum required, and they get work and feed their family and I have nothing against that. That is their business plan and if it works for them, great. I am not slaming them. They have to earn a living and, from what I see in our area, NACHI inspectors are kicking the heck out of the compitition. They are good inspectors.
There are others who go “beyond the visual”. Gas meters, CO detectors, checking for back drafting, checking receptacles for more than just polarity and grounding, include a free "pre-closing walkthrough, crawling the perimeters of attics and crawlspaces, if possible, getting up on a 24’ ladder and doing thermal imaging.
I have also volunteered my services to other NACHI members, in my area, if they suspect moisture or other problems that thermal imaging can help them with. The most I have charged them (as a sub) is $100.00, but most times I only charge $50.00.
I am not trying to be all high and mighty here. I am merely stating that anncilary services are a good direction. We are all (mostly) one man shops. That ever works and best serves the client and makes us the most money (honestly) and keeps us out of court is a good thing.
“Clarity is much more important than agreement.”
Well said…I just purchased the FLIR BCAM SD, and although I have not recieved it yet in the mail, I anticipate going through a learning curve as you were talking about.
My goal at this point in my business is to do everything in my power to not become soley dependant on business from Real Estate Transactions. As I have talked about in other posts, the market is good now, but when it changes or gets worse, then what?
I think thermal in=maging opens up a hugh market for us as inspectors to utilize our professional education and experience to increase our revenue.
That involes being open to new ideas and taking some risks. This is a “tool” just like every other “tool” in my tool belt. We just have to educate and explain to our clients the limitations of the tool.
That was me :roll:
One other question, Paul… Did you used to drive a bus?
No busses involved, my ex business partner and I were stuck in traffic thinking of names; nearly got side swiped by a bus.
It is not very imaginative but in all my previous businesses generic names have worked.
Your post is very well thought out and does raise some questions as how to blend in this extra service.
William’s post also raises the the Bar for the minimum standards of practice. Especially where condos are concerned, I’ve seen so many terrible stucco applications with obvious indicators of trouble, it would be good sometimes to be able to back up my concerns with other than “Further Evaluation”. The Realtor usually counters with “There’s nothing in the minutes” I have not seen too many strata minutes address these problem full on, they tend to use fluffy language so as to not reduce their unit values.
The question I guess still is that the SOP being minimum protects a lot of Home Inspectors from overstepping their expertise, and Infrared technology somewhat blows the SOP’s out the water.
Arne your verbage headers & footers for HG is the most comprehensive I’ve seen you must have put a lot of thought into it, do you incorporate any live links, as I have found them popular with punters/realtors used to having the Big book, type manual reports.
As a sidebar I have a couple of expat contacts involved in trades and they seem to think the SOP is a bit of a joke, and get lots of enquiries/ work from home buyers following up Inspection concerns.
Will, I don’t doubt you’ve got 20+ years of experience in thermal imaging, and I don’t doubt you’re trained to use the cute little gizmo. I would, however, be very careful about “statements of proof.”
Scenario : Decker inspects S.F.D home, thermal images two shots of attic structure, no problems detected. No problems visually detected in attic walk-through, either. But, as it turns out, it hasn’t rained for two weeks, and it’s August 10th. Attic temperature (even with an ample 1 sq./ft. net ventilation per 150’ sq./ft of attic floor) is about 105, F. Everything’s dry as a tinderbox. Decker debriefs client at site, verbally, indicating that the gizmo proves there’s no leakage problem at the roof/attic structure. Decker states in written report, “thermal imaging and visual inspection reveal no problems.” Client moves-in, and on September 29th of that same year, the roof receives 1" of rain in 3 hours. The thing leaks like a sieve…
Will your client sue? Mebbe, mebbe not. If he does, will he win? Probably not. Either way, will he be a happy camper? Mmmmm. NO. Let me repeat that. NO. He will not be a happy camper, he will be a crappy hamper. You will NOT receive future referrals from this client. Bottom line…the gizmo’s probably a great tool for a wide variety of circumstances, and may provide absolutely incomparable protection when operating in certain other circumstances. On the other hand, it’s no more infallible than you are. Love the idea on the technical side, but I’d be a bit more careful on the marketing side, regarding certain client expectations you may create. Don’t let your Flircam write a check your bank account can’t cover.
All good points, Chris. If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. Plan carefully and work the plan and adjust if things don’t work as planned.
Never bet the kid’s college money!
To clarify, my inspection agreement and my report verbiage states that the inspection only reports on the conditions “at the time of the inspection”. I carefully document the conditions (rained in the last three days, temperature, relative humidity in the attic and outside, etc.). That is part of the training that you get when you get certifications.
Also, my “20+ years of experience with thermal imaging” was primarily in the medical field (breast cancer screening) which is not the same thing as building science. I work hard to understand the difference. Breasts are not roofs (thank G-d!).
But the Physics is the same. Different is different, same is the same. Reflectivity and Emissivity and Thermal Mass remains the same. They are measurable variables and should always be carefully detrmined and considered.
Again, I am just describing my experience. Everyone should carefully weigh they own options. I am just trying to help people avoid my mistakes. I am not an expert, just am HI trying to make a living.
Excellent point… which is why it is important to know the limitations of any gizmo as well as its abilities. You should always be smarter than your gizmos! (Hey! I think there’s a tag-line there!)
Bottom line… in knowing the limitations of the thermal imaging camera, in a situation where it’s dryer than a popcorn fart (a hot attic where there IS air movement - as opposed to a closed wall cavity where there is no air movement) you can articulate these abilities and limitations. In other words, you wouldn’t even pull the fancy unit out of your tool bag and shoot pics of the roof & attic, as you know that water only exists in the plumbing.
And then there’s the issue I read about on another thread… that states that your insurance will NOT cover you if you work outside of your association’s Standard of Practice - whether or not “outside” is defined as working below it or above it… outside is outside. So there may be this to consider as well? I don’t know…
Thanks for the comliment… I think… LOL! I noticed you use HG too. I really like it. Over time I’ve developed my verbage. In my other life, communication revolved around report writing, so writing comes pretty natural to me. I do have to go back and check my spelling though! No live links… which is perhaps why I find myself explaining things a bit more than I really need to some of the time.
They can’t be joking too much if it’s getting them work!
If we ever combined forces we could be West Coast Mountain Home Inspections!:shock:
This thread is raising more questions than answers. The SOP/ E&O is to be considered. Your points earlier with the analogy of a doctor is a good one and proberly worth remembering, the SOP’s are tried and tested to some degree.
The HG software is good and flexible. It was a compliment: re your verbage, its an area I must profess to being weak in.
West Coast Mountain Home Insp…may give the other multi Inspectors a run for their money!!.
Anyways as ever your posts are very enlightening, I am off up the sunshine coast, have a good one.
Kevin that’s great, what type of camera did you get for work (and play!)