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More on infra-red


stollison
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First let me say thank you to Inspectors Journal for this great forum which I have just discovered. I really look forward to learning more about this industry as I am considering becoming a home inspector in the future. Speaking of infra-red (see earlier topic) I think I know the company that Aaron mentioned, Homesafe Inspection. My brothers may buy a Homesafe franchise in Houston, I saw the company's demo here myself last month, and was really psyched about it. There are two franchises in Okla. already and my brothers met with them....they are brothers too! They said it has been successful for them and got them write ups in their newspapers. Homesafe has infra-red photos on their web site, www.homesafeinspection.com/sights.php. But not being a home inspector myself, just an interested bystander, I don't know much about the technical side of it. Just my two cents worth. I do think it's exciting.

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It's mostly hype for residential inspections. The cost of the equipment and the royalty fees are high. I have an inspector in my area that bought into the franchise and she is having a hard time selling the extra service. Nothing will ever take the place of an experienced visual inspection.

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Hello

Back after a short absence. My company has invested in the infrared scanners. So far I am impressed with the devices. We did not become a franchisee because we already had a good business.

The scanners are helping us get most of the "price" callers to go with our company over our competitors. But I agree with one of the comments. Nothing will ever take the place of the trained visual inspection. But the Infrared scanners do enhance the trained inspectors abilities. (that is what a tool should do)

Thanks for the continued intrest in my post.

Aaron

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  • 1 month later...

I would like to straighten out several misconceptions about thermal imaging scanners or infrared scanners which ever you would like. First of all it’s a tool and like any tool either training or trial and error teaches you how to use it. I use the HomeSafe system. They wouldn’t let me have the system unless I took their week long course taught by the inventor who has a masters degree in electrical engineering. You also have to have passed the National Home inspector’s Exam, that’s the ASHI exam. Since I’ve been an inspector since 1989 and an ASHI member for quite some time I didn’t have the take the other required training. If I hadn’t I would have had to take another week and pass the Exam.

My point is they aren’t just handing this stuff out and taking your money. They are very interested in the quality of the end product and are in it for the long haul.

You can’t substitute any tool or equipment for experience and training. They are not trying to do that. Most of you use CO or multi gas detectors. Several years ago they were unnecessary over priced voodoo.

Our sales are up 40% over the same period last year for the time that we have been using the equipment. That justifies the expense. We tell everyone that “it’s a toolâ€

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How do you recover the cost of the IR camera. Cost recovery for the XRF analyzer was a big issue when Lead Testing became a hot issue a few years back, I jumped into lead testing with an XRF and learned quickly that the fees I could charge (based on what the consumer was willing to pay)were not offsetting the expense of the device.

I just don't see the advantage for the consumer on a residential inspection. What I see is a new homeowner who is under impression that their new home is 100% OK, because our inspector used a machine that could see inside of the walls. As an expert witness who only works to defend home inspectors I can see this being a big issue. This is in the same line of thinking as the use of a CO detector and one of the reasons my client will never see me use my CO meter, I don't want them thinking that their inspection was technically exhaustive, and I am afraid the use of a IR thermal imaging camera is just that.

I agree that this it is the most advanced tool an inspector could have and as good as the equipment is and the person reading the data being provided they can still be fooled or the inspector can still miss something.

An example: A few weeks ago I was called in for a second opinion on a home that the first inspector used a IR camera on a single family two story home. The first inspector reported that the roof was leaking and that the wall cavity was wet on a second floor room. A roofing contractor was called by the owner and they could not find any leaks. The area in question had no windows or other penetrations. The interior ceiling followed the roof line similar to a cathedral ceiling.

When I got to the house I had no idea what the other inspector had said or reported on or that they had used a IR camera. All I knew was that they had reported a roof leak. One of the first things I noticed was the room below the area of roof in question was a little warmer. I was showing about an 7 degree higher difference in the room than the rest of the upstairs. I shot the Raytek into the HVAC registers and one of the registers along a wall that followed the roof line showed 82f and the other two showed 61f. So I pulled out my trusty screwdriver and removed the grill from the register and found the air duct half way connected. It was shooting cold air into the wall cavity and it was being pushed up the ceiling between the framing. This was the so called roof leak, it had fooled the IR camera and the first inspector relied on the camera instead of doing a little more investigation.

So I was paid for a half days work and millage for me to spend about fifteen minutes showing that the first inspector made a mistake, because they depended on their IR device too much.

They also went through a week of training and passed the NHIE.

My mind is open to the use of IR imaging, it has uses, I have even hired a person to use a IR camera on commercial roofing inspection but this was all that this company does.

My advice is if you are going to use a IR camera on residential inspections is not to rely heavily on the information obtained and to use you instinct and skills before you commit yourself in your report.

PS, Aaron if you are the Aaron in Bruce's post you did buy into a franchise if you are using the HomeSafe system.

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Scott,

Beginning from the beginning. The cost is justified by increased work, we did raise our prices just a bit but we are still very much in line with everyone else. I looked at the XRF too. In PA we would have to have a radioactive materials licenses to have one. At $700 per year for the license and the paper work and initial cost and the fact that my office is in my home with my kids my wife and I decided not to go that route because they didn’t need the radiation exposure. (I’m a former Nuclear power plant worker so I didn’t either). I'm happy that I didn't because it turned out there was no market here after all.

As I mentioned in my first post our business is up 40% over the same period last year. I didn't know that we would have that kind of increase but it was an educated business decision. We took a risk just like every other businessperson does. This one is paying off. You only have to be right 51% of the time.

The example of the air duct is a good one. I've seen that too. In the course we were trained to also use a moisture meter to confirm suspected moisture. You will always have inexperienced mistakes. I still make them, hopefully just not as may as I did my first year. I have paid for repairs to main drains and plumbing leaks above ceilings etc. etc. With this system I now have an indication that there is something that needs more investigation. If that is disclosed to the buyer you have done your job even if you aren't 100% sure what is going on behind there. Let the tradesman figure it out for them and do his job.

I also mentioned that we promote it as a tool and that nothing is perfect especially the house that they are buying.

The bottom line is read everything that you can find on your profession, go to every seminar that's practical, concentrate and stay focused while you are doing your inspection and use the best equipment available. From your posts I think that you will agree with this paragraph.

All I know is that I feel that I’m doing a much better job and my clients are impressed enough to refer their friends to us. The buy’s agents are referring us too.

I guess that the last bottom line is that it’s a business decision that at this point I’m very happy that we made.

Bruce

ASHI # 203847

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Bruce,

I am not sure if the HomeSafe folks will be at the ASHI InspectionWorld conference, I invited them and gave them the contact information. I hope they decide to attend, they do have some neat ideas and concepts. I feel like I already own a part of the company as much of the equipment was developed with the help Ole Miss and my tax dollars!

From what I have seen we will have a good number of vendors with IR cameras and I think a manufacture or two of the IR cameras in attendance at IW this year.

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Just another opinion. I've looked into IR cameras, along with other devices, as a way to provide something my competitors don't. While I haven't bit yet, I might in the near future.

I remember a few years back, when guys who took digital photos, and did onsite reports, were the exception, rather than the rule. Moisture detectors, co sniffers, and Suretests, are still only used by a minority of HI's.

The business is evolving. IMO, there are way too many inspectors who sell price rather than quality. I'm about 25% higher than the average around me. I always get hit with the price resistance. I use my better equipment, and more thorough inspection, as a counter to that resistance, and it almost always works.

Realtors constantly bitch about my prices. When you sell price, you play right into their hands. The HI business is changing, and we can choose whether we want to be though of as Home Depot or Sharper Image. I choose the latter. There will always be low ball inspectors and low ball clients, just won't be me.

I'm not saying to run out and buy a bunch of stuff that you don't know how to use. I'm saying that you're worth more than .10 a square foot, and you should figure out how to charge more and deliver a better service. IR cameras may be one way.

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Jim,

OK here goes, Moisture provided that the temperature is different from the material that is wet. Hot wires in the walls. I guess the third is termites.

I’ve seen moisture above soffit, behind fascia, on the roof deck in the attic, along the sill plate, at the band joist, just about any place that you don’t want it. Once you suspect moisture then you can prove it and find the source using IR or conventional means. . Main plumbing stacks in the wall just as a locator.

Hot wires in a wall shine like a light bulb. If they are hot they are probably over loaded. Now find out why.

I don’t know how extensive your termite infestations are in Mass. But I’ve paid for a few here in PA and I don’t want to pay for any more. Termites bring in moisture because they need almost 100% humidity to survive. With IR it shows up as a dark blob some times with branches. Once you suspect an infestation you can use the acoustic equipment that comes with the system to hear them or probe. If you probe you had better be right or you will be fixing the wall.

To answer the end of your question you don’t “NEEDâ€

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