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Thermal Imaging (Chicago Sun Times)


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Originally posted by kurt

It's an inevitability that we are all going to have to go through. The only real question is which one & how much.

If we can get the folks to go for it as an entirely seperate add on @ an additional $400-500, I'm all for it.

Sadly, the trend I'm seeing is desperate home inspectors leasing these things and folding them into the normal inspection routine. They advertise the heck out the IR camera and cut their prices to attract lots of business.

That doesn't leave me much room to sell the IR service at a premium price. Why should people buy it from me when the "certified" inspector down the street is giving it away?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Same here with EIFS. 10 years ago EIFS inspections were a money maker for home inspectors. I bought all the moisture meters for the inspection including a $1,100 wet wall detector. I have not had a call for an EIFS inspection in a couple years now. All the moisture meters are sitting on shelf gathering dust.

REASON:

EIFS repair and installation Companies are doing inspections for free. Yeah sure. I have a hunch there is maybe a little conflict of interest for an EIFS repaimen to inspect an EIFS home for free.

Paul B.

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Just a thought, a routine scan around the floor of the toilet with a moisture meter would have alerted one to a leaky seal.

I agree that our ablitity to sell this as a premium or seperate service is going to be hampered by those that are desperate to gain buisness and are givng the service away. I debate on making this purchase but can not justify the expense if I can't charge accordingly. Unfortunatly I think it will be only a matter of a couple years here and the public will expect every inspector to pull one of these out of his tool bag. Look at Steve Ramos and his TV program, this kind of programing/advertising is going to continue and push us into delivering this service.

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You would think that the insulation contractors would be running around with thermal cameras offering free inspections to drum up biz.

I think in the end there won't be any premium biz when the cameras become more afordable. But it's a sure bet that sooner rather than later they will become an expected tool in the HI's bag just like a moisture meter.

Do you think that someone will propose a change to an SOP? With the expected use of moisture meters and thermal cameras, is it really a visual only inspection anymore?

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

You would think that the insulation contractors would be running around with thermal cameras offering free inspections to drum up biz.

I think in the end there won't be any premium biz when the cameras become more afordable. But it's a sure bet that sooner rather than later they will become an expected tool in the HI's bag just like a moisture meter.

Do you think that someone will propose a change to an SOP? With the expected use of moisture meters and thermal cameras, is it really a visual only inspection anymore?

Chris, Oregon

Given that many HIs now routinely use equipment such as circuit testers and moisture meters, and in the future will probably be using infrared cameras, a more accurate term would be that it is a "nondestructive" inspection rather than a "visual" one.

The terms nondestructive inspection, nondestructive evaluation, and nondestructive testing have been around for a long time in the engineering world, primarily in manufacturing and forensic investigations. X-rays and MRIs are an application of these techniques in the medical field.

Who's going to be the first HI to advertise: "yes madam, I do have x-ray vision"? (FYI lead paint inspectors do this now)

If curious about other NDT methods, visit: http://www.asnt.org

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Originally posted by chicago

Well Chris ,the camera is visual.(sorry I could not resist.

I suppose the bright side is it will stop some of the cheap inspectors(I hope).Not to many will enter the field on a whim ,with start up costs which include a $ 10,000 tool.

They enter the field with a lease or a small business loan. They make the payments by using a low profit margin and high volume. As long as they're willing to do a minimal-quality job, the business model works.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I've researched these things pretty extensively, but haven't bought one due to what economists refer to as a "diseconomy of scale." The use of IR doesn't increase production, but rather decreases it. Our scarcest resources are ourselves, and our time and labor on a daily basis are finite. Time spent marketing IR during initial phone calls, using the camera during an inspection, demonstrating and explaining the IR images and their meanings to a customer post-inspection--including the, "Oh, wow, that is so cool," portion of the conversation--and subsequent dialogues with repair people/sellers/listing agents about why the perfectly fine drywall in the basement should be removed would be substantial. Simply put, the new technology could add an hour or two to the typical two-inspections per day. Will customers pay more for this technology? Tough to say, when in my case, I'm already more expensive than most of my competitors and routinely lose business because of it.

To receive adequate compensation and pay for the camera(And of course what's the life span of the camera? How often does it have to be replaced?) I'd have to charge an extra hundred or two hundred dollars per gig. To date, I've been unable to convince myself that my market is willing to fork over the extra money for a superior--meaning the inclusion of IR--inspection.

John

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by kurt

It's an inevitability that we are all going to have to go through. The only real question is which one & how much.

If we can get the folks to go for it as an entirely seperate add on @ an additional $400-500, I'm all for it.

Sadly, the trend I'm seeing is desperate home inspectors leasing these things and folding them into the normal inspection routine. They advertise the heck out the IR camera and cut their prices to attract lots of business.

That doesn't leave me much room to sell the IR service at a premium price. Why should people buy it from me when the "certified" inspector down the street is giving it away?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I planned on charging an additional premium for my ITI services before purchasing the camera. There maybe some HI's out there that fall into the category you have described, but I think most realize that the market for ITI services is a good one.

Charging more for this services is very much feasible in todays market, but it ain't going to stay that way for long. Weather you like it or not, most HI's will have an IR camera in about 7 to 10 years, maybe sooner.

You can either get into the game now or be left behind. The "Certified Inspector down the street" comment has nothing to do you charging more for this service. This is business and if you want to be successful, then you have to market aggressively. In less than a year, I am averaging over 1,200.00 a month in additional revenue from ITI.

I do more...therefore I charge more! In addition, ITI services are beyond the scope of a standard inspection, and require a separate contract. If you are using the camera on a standard home inspection, it would be wise to ad an addendum to your inspection agreement or have the client sign a separate contract.

Just my 2 cents :)

Kevin

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Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

In addition, ITI services are beyond the scope of a standard inspection, and require a separate contract. If you are using the camera on a standard home inspection, it would be wise to ad an addendum to your inspection agreement or have the client sign a separate contract.

Just my 2 cents :)

Kevin

I think that's the right approach. Sell it as an add-on, have a seperate contract.

There's folks out there not charging enough now, and there always will be.

Having a camera isn't the only thing one has to accomplish; there has to be an entire package designed around the service.

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How much do you charge for an IR scan, Kevin? And how much time is typically involved with the actual process/explanation/paperwork? Do you provide a separate document that explains i.e. that the SW soffit is damp due to gutter overflow/ water is entering the floor system beneath the front porch, etc.? Have you ever had false positives, for instance detecting moisture where a deck ledger attaches and had someone remove drywall to discover little or no damage and/or moisture?

John

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Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

In addition, ITI services are beyond the scope of a standard inspection, and require a separate contract. If you are using the camera on a standard home inspection, it would be wise to ad an addendum to your inspection agreement or have the client sign a separate contract.

Just my 2 cents :)

Kevin

I think that's the right approach. Sell it as an add-on, have a seperate contract.

There's folks out there not charging enough now, and there always will be.

Having a camera isn't the only thing one has to accomplish; there has to be an entire package designed around the service.

Very good point!

Kevin

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Originally posted by Bain

How much do you charge for an IR scan, Kevin? And how much time is typically involved with the actual process/explanation/paperwork? Do you provide a separate document that explains i.e. that the SW soffit is damp due to gutter overflow/ water is entering the floor system beneath the front porch, etc.? Have you ever had false positives, for instance detecting moisture where a deck ledger attaches and had someone remove drywall to discover little or no damage and/or moisture?

John

General ITI Scan = 79.00

ITI Electrical Survey = 99.00

ITI Moisture Survey = 99.00

ITI Energy Survey = 129.00

Premium Home Energy Tune-uP w/ ITI Scan = 378.00

These fees are all in addition to my standard home inspection fees. The most popular is the General ITI Scan, because I bring the camera to every inspection and give a short demo on how it works and the benefits of adding the service to the home inspection. Most say "Sure let's add that."

It does not take a lot of time to conduct a general scan of the home. I use Home Gauge, and have set up separate sections for each ITI Survey, but include all anomalies gleaned from the General ITI Scan in the body of my standard report.

I write up all defects found with the IR camera the same way I would without using. If it's moisture related, then I confirm with a moisture meter. Here are a few example comments:

ITI Energy Survey:

Maintenance Issue: An excessive amount of air leakage/infiltration was noted at the main entry door. Energy loss is occurring. A thermal imaging camera was used to confirm findings. The thermal images reveal warm air (red spots in image) radiating through the left side and bottom of the door. This is attributed to poor weather stripping. I recommend improving or replacing weather stripping around entire door.

Maintenance Issue: A section of the upper wall in the Living room and in the upstairs hallway/bedroom is missing insulation. Energy loss is occurring. A thermal imaging camera was used to confirm findings. The thermal images reveal that heat (white/red areas in image) is radiating through the section of the wall that is not insulated (heat gain/transfer). I recommend installing insulation behind the wall for improved energy efficiency.

Hope this helps...

Kevin

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