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Hello, TIJ Readers! Due to popular demand, we wrote an article on infrared technology. We delve into what inspectors have to say about its benefits and drawbacks, as well as what we have to say about it from a liability standpoint. Hope you enjoy! -------- For the past two decades, home inspectors have been inspecting using thermal imaging. By examining the heat given off by various property systems and components, many inspectors have discovered roof leaks, electrical issues, structural defects, and insulation anomalies. However, thermal imaging still isn’t commonplace. Due to the technology’s expense and imperfections, many inspectors have opted out of purchasing infrared cameras for their businesses. For the inspectors that are on the fence, we explore reasons why inspectors use thermal imaging technology and the investments they make to do so. We then touch on important risk management considerations for anyone considering or currently offering infrared inspections. Why inspectors use thermal imaging technology. When asked why they perform home inspections with infrared technology, the six home inspectors we interviewed said that they began offering the service for one or more of the following reasons. 1. They wanted to stay competitive in their market. With only so many houses on the market, home inspectors need to find ways to stand out from other inspectors in their area to be successful. One way home inspectors can get ahead of their competitors is by offering additional inspection services, like thermal imaging. “For me, [thermal imaging] is not only a way to set myself apart as an inspector but to set our company apart,” said Michael Hammel of Guiding Light Home Inspection Services, LLC in Texas. By offering a niche inspection service, Hammel gives his customers value that isn’t easily found elsewhere. For other home inspectors, performing thermal imaging inspections is a matter of keeping up with the competition. Judson Faust of Liberty Inspections in Kentucky started using infrared technology after others in his market began offering the service. Now, he estimates that, when half of his potential customers call, they’re asking about thermal imaging. That’s one big group of business Faust could have lost had he not added infrared cameras to his inspection tool belt. Additionally, Faust says that many of his referring real estate agents look for thermal imaging services before sending inspectors business. “Some realtors love [infrared]. Some realtors will not refer an inspector that does not use thermal imaging because they understand how important it is,” Faust said. By offering infrared inspections, Faust makes sure he stays in his area’s realtor referral pool. Beware of lack of demand. Before adding infrared technology to your home inspections to stay competitive, make sure there’s enough demand. Chuck Lambert of Sunrise Inspection Services in California invested in an infrared camera only to find that, due to the mild climate in his area, selling infrared inspections was more difficult than he’d anticipated. Hammel, too, has seen less interest in thermal imaging than he had expected. However, Hammel attributes this to potential clients not understanding what thermal imaging is and how it can help them. “[Clients] don’t request [thermal imaging] as often as I would like them to. I think a lot of it goes back to education and really knowing whether or not it’s something they need,” Hammel said. Similarly, Matthew Cottenham of Trademark Home Inspection, LLC in Michigan believes many potential clients don’t understand the value enough to make the additional investment into thermal imaging. “It’s amazing how people will complain about their energy bills all day long but not want to spend a few hundred bucks to have someone come in and do a proper energy audit that could save them 20 percent. Over a lifetime, that’s a lot of money,” Cottenham said. To make sure there’s enough demand to warrant investing in thermal imaging, we recommend looking at your potential clients’ pain points and assessing how many homebuyers in your area are likely to want infrared inspections. [READ MORE]