INFRARED CAMERAS FOR HOME INSPECTIONS - YES OR NO?

By
Home Inspector with National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC

It is getting close to that time of year when I start dwelling on new equipment for my home and building inspection business.  I have been thinking about purchasing an infrared camera to use on my inspections which are mostly residential homes.

However, I am not sure how infrared cameras are perceived by real estate agents and brokers.  This is where I need your input.  If you are not familiar with these cameras, what they do is take a picture of invisible infrared or "heat" radiation also known as thermal imaging.  The camera is a remarkable diagnostic tool for inspectors as it can indicate problems not visible to the naked eye.   For instance, water leakage can be detected through a roof, wall or window with no interior evidence that the leakage even exists.  We all know what problems water may cause (can you say mold) and the liability it presents.   

It is also possible to use the camera for energy loss issues (think green) such as missing insulation and improper operation of air conditioners and heat pumps.  There are safety uses too, such as locating overheating electrical wires inside walls or other faulty electrical components. 

Now that you are up to speed on what thermal imaging can do, I think you are starting to get the picture (no pun intended).  Using infrared cameras for home inspections will find more problems.  And with more problems, selling properties may become increasingly difficult and more deals may not close due to the seller's unwillingness to negotiate repairs.   

This is my dilemma.  Although my inspections already are high quality, an infrared camera will help me provide an even better inspection.  But I am not sure an infrared camera can help me grow my business with real estate agents and brokers.  Do you want this technology - yes or no? 

 Glen Fisher southjerseynpi@aol.com                                                                                                                    

"The South Jersey Home Inspector"

 

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Paul Howard 02/19/2009 04:17 PM
Topic:
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Location:
New Jersey Camden County Oaklyn
Groups:
Realtors®
Tags:
infrared cameras
home inspection
home inspections
building inspection
building inspections

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Rainmaker
485,807
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Glen, Welcome to AR. My question is how accurate is it really. If there is a chance that you could get a "false positive" I can see some might angry sellers.

Mar 15, 2009 07:20 AM #14
Rainmaker
630,121
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes

Glen,

First off welcome to Active Rain.  Now for that camera, I am going to talk to my local NPI inspector and see why he isn't using such a creature.  :-)

Mar 15, 2009 08:07 AM #15
Rainmaker
73,228
Glen Fisher
National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC - Oaklyn, NJ

Hi Barb.  Thanks for the comment.  The cheaper infrared cameras could cause image questions that may result in an angry seller.  A quality camera can cost eight-thousand dollars.

It is also necessary to get at least several days of detailed training in the use of these cameras.  Without the training, the results from the camera will not be properly interrupted. 

There is a lot to consider.  

 

Mar 15, 2009 08:12 AM #16
Rainmaker
284,962
David Matney
Alliance Real Estate - Omaha, NE
Omaha, NE Real Estate | Omaha, NE Homes For Sale

Glen, there are some interestng comments.  Initially, I thought it would be better ... but I agree that there is a lot to consider.

Mar 16, 2009 12:28 AM #17
Anonymous
Jac Castle

Glen,

If you have an inspection tool (high tech or low tech) in your bag that might improve the quality of the job you do for your clients then you better be ready to use it on every inspection.  Whether or not you can charge a customer more for using that device will depend on a lot of different financial factors. 

 

Unlike tests (water, radon, etc.) most clients will not pay extra for the use of inspection tools.  In a court of law you would get hammered if you told the judge, "I didn't use my infrared camera because the client wasn't willing to pay the extra fee".

Jul 05, 2009 08:14 AM #18
Rainmaker
72,750
Paul Howard
Paul Howard, Broker, NJHomeBuyer.com Realty 856-488-8444 - Cherry Hill, NJ
NJHomeBuyer.com Realty, 856-488-8444

I have to wonder who Jac Castle is and where he gets his expertise in law from.

The field of medicine comes to mind as a anology.  So I guess doctors and dentists MUST do (as an example) an XRAY if it might show something that could not be seen without it EVEN IF THE PATIENT WILL NOT OR CAN NOT PAY.

If an inspector is going to spend extra time on an inspection the inspector certainly can charge for it as a condition.

I also have to wonder about Jac Castle's expertise when it comes to what a consumer will pay for.  How did 'Jac' reach the conclusion that most clients will not pay extra for extras on an inspection.

As a buyer's agent I would encourage my clients to get all testing done that they think appropriate.  Infared likely would be one of those tests.

 

Paul Howard, Broker

NJHomBuyer.com Realty

811 Church Rd Ste 11 

Cherry Hill NJ 08002

856-488-8444

MEMBER: NAEBA (Nationoal Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents)  http://www.naeba.org

http://www.twitter.com/paulhoward

facebook:  http://www.companies.to/njhomebuyer

http://www.njhomebuyer.com

 

 

 

Jul 05, 2009 08:31 AM #19
Anonymous
Paul Wright

I just finished FLIR training today in Nashville, Tn.

It would be very easy to get the wrong interpretations  without intense training!!! Even after the training I feel very uneasy using the camera.

I also have trouble believing people will pay extra for this service.

If you include this service for "Free" with you existing home inspections you just added about 3 or 4 hours work at no extra cost and with huge expense for the camera.....training and time involved for each inspection.

Feb 26, 2010 09:59 PM #20
Anonymous
Paul Wright

I just finished FLIR training today in Nashville, Tn.

It would be very easy to get the wrong interpretations  without intense training!!! Even after the training I feel very uneasy using the camera.

I also have trouble believing people will pay extra for this service.

If you include this service for "Free" with you existing home inspections you just added about 3 or 4 hours work at no extra cost and with huge expense for the camera.....training and time involved for each inspection.

Feb 26, 2010 09:59 PM #21
Anonymous
Paul Wright

I just finished FLIR training today in Nashville, Tn.

It would be very easy to get the wrong interpretations  without intense training!!! Even after the training I feel very uneasy using the camera.

I also have trouble believing people will pay extra for this service.

If you include this service for "Free" with you existing home inspections you just added about 3 or 4 hours work at no extra cost and with huge expense for the camera.....training and time involved for each inspection.

Feb 26, 2010 09:59 PM #22
Anonymous
Paul Wright

I just finished FLIR training today in Nashville, Tn.

It would be very easy to get the wrong interpretations  without intense training!!! Even after the training I feel very uneasy using the camera.

I also have trouble believing people will pay extra for this service.

If you include this service for "Free" with you existing home inspections you just added about 3 or 4 hours work at no extra cost and with huge expense for the camera.....training and time involved for each inspection.

Feb 26, 2010 09:59 PM #23
Anonymous
Paul Wright

I just finished FLIR training today in Nashville, Tn.

It would be very easy to get the wrong interpretations  without intense training!!! Even after the training I feel very uneasy using the camera.

I also have trouble believing people will pay extra for this service.

If you include this service for "Free" with you existing home inspections you just added about 3 or 4 hours work at no extra cost and with huge expense for the camera.....training and time involved for each inspection.

Feb 26, 2010 09:59 PM #24
Rainmaker
72,750
Paul Howard
Paul Howard, Broker, NJHomeBuyer.com Realty 856-488-8444 - Cherry Hill, NJ
NJHomeBuyer.com Realty, 856-488-8444

I think it will be coming sooner or later. For an inspector, one strategy might be to wait till they think it may soon be needed to compete but not wait so long they are playing catchup.

 

 

Feb 27, 2010 07:51 AM #25
Rainmaker
73,228
Glen Fisher
National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC - Oaklyn, NJ

Paul #1:  You are correct.  The camera will require a large investment in addition to increased time for an inspection. 

Paul #2:  Sooner will be when the real estate market recovers.  Many of the home buyers in the market today are looking to cut every penny and are even foolishly passing on a radon test.  As a result, very few would be willing to pay for an infrared camera inspection.

Feb 27, 2010 09:26 AM #26
Anonymous
Matt

The only way to get a full picture of radon is through continuous testing for at least 6 - 9 months, as radon levels can fluctuate seasonally.  The 2-day test is simply a snapshot that could reveal elevated levels but could also yield a false negative.  Plus, the test cannot be guaranteed "uncontaminated" in a location where the buyer does not have complete control.

As with any due dilligence, a good home inspection can mitigate risk, but it can't eliminate it.  I've been doing house and building consultation for over ten years and I'm not sure that IR has a place in common home inspections, other than a gimmick to outdo the competition.  Take the example from above of sheet metal mimmicking lack of insulation.  To test for moisture, electrical overheating, and heating loss sometimes the conditions need to be correct, such as the right time of day for the correct temperature differential to be perceivable or current flowing through a compromised circuit for overheating to actually occur.  So there is clearly room for false negatives and positive in IR testing.

If you plan to buy a camera (as I do eventually), I suggest considering as an adjunct but seperate business that will require special marketing (to contractors, let's say, for leak tracing).

Aug 12, 2010 04:01 PM #27
Anonymous
Frank

So it has been a year and a half and now we want to know how things went. Has the IR camera generated business and are you finding more problems and how do the buyers and sellers respond to the additional flaws in their homes.  Frank

Dec 21, 2011 12:53 AM #28
Anonymous
Suzy

I just had a deal fall through on my home as a result of an infrared camera;  The SECOND in 2 weeks in their office, according to my realtor.  The siding of my house was found to be damp after 10 continuous days of raining. I would like to know if the home of THE inspector would pass their own rigorous inspections.  My home is 35 years old.  It has been *impeccably* maintained.  Who can afford today's buyer's standards > Complete renovation and like new condition, if your home is not brand new?  It's called "Foreclosure".  We are fortunate in that we don't have to sell our home.  If we had to we would be in foreclosure.  We have put in $45,000 of repairs over 10 years and $15,000 to put the house on the market.  It is priced at what we bought it for 12 years ago.  I *FLUNKED* the inspections.  What really is your goal?  When did the goal change from finding things in a home that are not up to code or have not been maintained to finding absolutey every possible thing wrong with a house and then forcing a seller to fix *every* problem and then disclose it giving a home a "flawed" appearance.  How many houses are getting 2-3 inspections generating more money for inspectors because the house flunks unreasonable standards?  Is this simply another example of the real estate industry generating revenue for themselves?  

May 12, 2012 08:59 AM #29
Anonymous
mw

Hi Suzy:

1st: A home inspector's job is never to make sure the house is "up to code".  That is the job of the building department.  To verifiy code complaince, walls would likely need to be opened up, about which I'm sure most sellers would not be thrilled.

2nd: House inspections are not pass / fail.  If an inspector stated that your house "flunked", I would regard his agenda with suspicion.  Our job as home inspectors is to provide information about a building, not to give pass/fail grades.  Any inspector who does that is injecting his own opinion into the mix and that is unfair to a buyer.  It is the buyer's decision to make as to whether the house "passes or fails" for their needs/concerns.  Of course houses, whether new or old have problems, and a good inspector will suggest rational solutions to them, without overstating the issues.

3rd: Of course the siding will be damp after extended rain.  It's outside.  How is that a problem?  The water barrier behind the siding (tar paper) is what keeps the house dry.  If that's really the call he made, then he sounds incompetent. If however, if the real call was moisture on the inside wall of the house, and he used a moisture meter to back his assessment, then, sorry, but that's a  problem, which if left unaddressed can lead to bigger problems and it must be addressed, whether by you or the buyer.

I'm sorry you're frustrated, but IR is really useful in our work for discovering water leakage that is not visible and if you were on the *informed* buying end, you would insist that the inspector working for you uses IR.

May 12, 2012 09:32 AM #30
Anonymous
Anonymous

..."IR is really useful in our work for discovering water leakage that is not visible and if you were on the *informed* buying end, you would insist that the inspector working for you uses IR."


*Really*?!?


In Medicine there are studies that are" placebo controlled" studies... these studies ensure that the information are not opinion nor bias.  When I googled IR, I did not find any scientific studies.  I also did not find any state certifications.  State certifications protect the public.  An example is the he certification required for a radiologist... "The field of medicine comes to mind as a anology.  So I guess doctors and dentists MUST do (as an example) an XRAY if it might show something that could not be seen without it EVEN IF THE PATIENT WILL NOT OR CAN NOT PAY."  Doctors and Dentist choose obtaining their xray studies based on scientific data. The best example is a mammogram which is a screening test for breast cancer in women.  It has *no* validity for women in their 20s... an important fact determined by scientific data.


What is "normal" for IR?  What is the "gold standard" for a house in New Jersey on the beach versus a house in Tuscon AZ in the desert?


This is a very difficult real estate market... are you *really* adding benefit?


May 12, 2012 09:28 PM #31
Anonymous
Anonymous

... and now "code"...

 

The inspector on the house I tried to buy [ fell through b/c of IF]  knew that a gas line in the property needed to be grounded to the electrical box... an unique gas line issue that was a "class action suit" and inexpensive to fix.  He also knew that the house has a "blue max" piping that is the pipe for the main water line an has been found to be unreliable and burst causing disastrious main water line problems.  He did not have to look behind any walls for "OMG the sky is falling" issues!

May 12, 2012 09:35 PM #32
Anonymous
Suzy

http://www.ashireporter.org/articles/articles.aspx?id=1471

It's science and needs to be used *correctly*;  Homeowners have a right to *accurate* inspections of their homes in this difficult buyers market.

May 31, 2012 04:40 AM #33
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