Investigative studies

I receive many calls from potential clients(owners/sellers/buyers/renters) that are looking for someone to find a problem. Most are water related.

For example a roof leak that continues to occur after a roofer has come out and stated no issues with covering or flashing’s.

This particular home has a masonry chimney and sounds like there are fractures in brick/mortar and most likely the water is penetrating into the attic from the chimney/flashing.

I get maybe 12-24 calls a year. I have turned them away for various reasons.

Now I would like to start doing investigative studies.

How do you base your fee on a specific area. How can you know before arriving the amount of time/report needed.

Anyone offering investigative studies as a service?

I get calls for bed bugs, animals, vermin in walls/house.

Mostly moisture related.



I do allot of special investigations. To start out I recommend you establish your hourly wage rate and a minimum inspection fee. For example $50/hour ($150 minimum). After a while you will get a better feel for how much time some of the more common investigations will take and you can then quote a fix fee for these.

  • know your limitations as far as knowledge about the subject matter your being asked to investigate.
  • don’t be afraid to turn down some requests, you can’t be an expert in all subjects.
  • be prepaired to lose some money in the beginning, you will under estimate the time required on some jobs.
  • have a seperate agreement for this type of work.
  • recommend professional assessment by others on items outside your area of knowledge as you would in a normal home inspection.
  • if your special investigations are related to your normal home inspection business, include these on your website. If your special investigations are not something a person would think a home inspector would do you may need a seperate website for these services.

From past experience a significant percentage of these special inspection requests are preliminary steps your client is taking in preparation of a lawsuit. So ask questions before taking the assignment. If a lawsuit happens you will be in court. So have a fee schedule for court appearances, $500/day or something similar. I would also invest some time an money learning as much as you can about the subject matter you expect to work on. For example bed bugs, if you offer this service the last thing you need is an exterminator to come in after you and contradict your recommendations or knowledge.

I don’t want to scare you, because I like the challenge of doing special investigations. Just go into this with your eyes open. good luck…


Yes I do understand about the legality and many of the cases are probably due to expectations not being met.

I would be interested in seeing your contract for the studies.

I know most moisture related issues I could diagnose.

Bed bugs is not my specialty. Renters are often having issues with there landlords.

I also am not using IR but if I begin to do studies I will need to make the investment. (Been on the fence for a few years)(Have the cash, but not the specific IR training)

Also my moisture meter could use an upgrade.

Thanks again for your feedback. I feel I am at the point to be able to do some further investigations.

Many times roofers/home owners do not understand the building since and the ventilation/insulation systems are inadequate.

The insulation specialist seems to have the grasp on understanding Building Science.

I would love to hook up with Dave A on the wet/dry bulb(do a class or I am in my car on my way) and also Mr Warner to accompany him on an IR job. I would be willing to pay whatever do gain knowledge from professionals/pros like these guys.


I take my standard home inspection agreement, I have a computer modifiable version, and change the “Scope of Work” and the “Outside the Scope of the Inspection” sections to fit the job. The rest of the boilerplate information is the same. Just state clearly in these two sections what you are inspecting and reporting on and what is not included. Due to the variety of work encountered you have to customize your agreement. Its a good practice to, if litigation is possible, to make sure you tell the client what you are being hired to do in writing, verbally during the inspection and again in writing in your report. All my inspection reports, including normal home inspections, include the Purpose & Scope of work section at the front of the report. That way if I am put in a position to defend my report I can clearly state I told my client, in writing, what I was going to do BEFORE the inspection. If they attend I make a point DURING the inspection to verbally restate what I am there to do. And finally AFTER the inspection, in the report, I clearly state what I did. While this method is not bullet-proof it puts me in a better position from a legal standpoint.

I call these “limited component inspections” and charge $179 which includes a written report and the first hour of inspection time. Addition hours are $79 and $89.50 for an additional site visit (including the first hour). I use a separate inspection agreement stating in part;

*-Because of the limited number of Components to be inspected, the inspection is not a “Home Inspection” as defined in the Government of Alberta’s “Home Inspection Business Regulation”;
-The inspection will be performed in accordance with the SOP (Standards of Practice) of _______ including all limitations, however sections 3 through 12 of the SOP are specifically excluded unless marked in (a) above.

  • Because of the limited number of Components being inspected, the inspection and Report will not meet the _______ standards of practice for a home inspection;*

The (a) I refer to lists the various systems in the SOP such as Heating, Roof etc. and there is also a “Investigative” option. So basically, I will inspect only the agreed upon systems/components according to the SOP.

Thanks Rick
Good single component verbiage…just swiped it:twisted::twisted:…thanks