Infrared ROI for Home Inspectors, published in ASHI monthly newsletter Dec 2015

Infrared cameras have been used by forward thinking home inspectors for years.  The applications and benefits of applying IR technology are well documented and stories passed within the industry.  So why is there so much hesitation from home inspectors to bring Infrared service into their business?  Let’s take a look at the top 3 misconceptions we answer every week –

  • “Customers in my market won’t pay extra for IR (aka Show me the Money!)”
  • “I don’t want to increase my liability and chance of being sued”
  • “IR cameras are too expensive”

One – ” Customers in my market won’t pay extra for Infrared “

Answer:  Not true!  What we have identified and shared with home inspectors is that selling infrared as either a value-add to their current inspections or separate service provides customers a greater level of certainty that issues which might otherwise not be found by the naked eye during the inspection (or for some time thereafter) may be proactively identified and addressed now.  This can and has proven to save everyone involved time, money and headaches.  Customers are getting smarter and are starting to expect their home inspector to provide IR.  I suspect nearly every person reading this will agree customers are asking about IR use more often today and that without IR they have lost business to a competitor?  We regularly hear from and speak with home inspectors who have purchased an IR camera, attended professionally taught, hands-on thermography certification training.  They have scripted how to sell the value of IR to customers and are seeing 100% to 200% ROI in the first year.  On a $4000 to $5000 investment for an IR camera and certification training they increased revenue by $10,000 to $20,000 per year.  And the challenge that “I can’t charge for IR in my region” or “My customers won’t pay for IR” has proven overall to be untrue.  Customers will gladly pay for what they perceive to be valuable, presented to them by someone who is professional, experienced and can demonstrate qualifications of knowledge in the subject matter.  In short people will buy almost anything from someone they feel confident about and want to trust is telling them truth.  You all do this today when describing how well you perform home inspection.  You can do the same when describing the value added by including IR to your inspections – and you can charge for it!  Those home inspectors “in the know” making a lot of extra money offering IR are perfectly fine with their competition taking their time or never getting started with IR!

Two – Infrared Cameras increase my liability

Answer:  Not true again!  I have spoken individually with several hundred home inspectors and the difference between those who believe using an IR camera will increase the chances of being sued for missing something and those who know better is very simple – knowledge.  Nearly all home inspectors utilize clear, well-written and well-vetted statements of work (or they should!).  Talk with whoever prepared your current inspection contracts about adding the short verbiage required to define that your inclusion of infrared is no different (better or worse) than what is defined by a visual inspection.  It is a snapshot in time and does not determine whether an issue was or was not present, only that it may not have shown itself adequately at the time of the inspection.  In short. using an infrared camera to either augment your current home inspection or providing a separate thermal inspection service does not increase your likelihood of being sued if you properly account for it in your contract statement of work.  Talk to a peer who you know and trust and who has added infrared service to his offerings as a revenue generator.  Let him confirm what I just stated and point you forward knowing that the only thing to fear about being sued is lack of knowledge in making the one-time correction to your contracts.

Three – Infrared Cameras are too expensive

Answer:  Definitely not true today!  A good IR camera for home inspection applications can be purchased for under $2500, a very good IR camera for $5000 and an excellent IR camera is now less than $8500, with many models falling between and around these price points.  Be sure to look into the differences in IR camera capabilities and talk with someone knowledgeable on which IR cameras meet your application expectations and explains why.  We recommend home inspectors consider IR cameras that offer at least 19,000 pixels worth of image resolution and a thermal sensitivity of 0.07°C or better.  This you can buy for $2400 to $3800 depending upon the manufacturer.  While there are lower cost and lower resolution cameras available, we have found that the potential issues “missed” by a less sensitive camera makes them less of the ideal investment for home inspector applications which are highly focused on moisture identification.  For a better camera and training your investment will likely be between $4000 to $8000 depending upon your budget and comfort level making the investment commitment.  And we always remind home inspectors to remember that investing in an IR camera nets returns long past the initial payoff of the camera and training.  Your new IR camera will last 10-15+ years and pay for itself many, many times over.  Even though the price has come down from the $15k plus investment of 10 years ago the use by home inspectors is still far in the minority.

Summary

Keep in mind that while IR cameras have become very easy to use, there can be complex circumstances surrounding certain situations where your previous knowledge will not help you make a definitive determination. This is where attending hands-on formalized infrared certification training will increase your competence and confidence in using the camera.  Having a powerful analysis tool like an IR Camera may help you immediately identify problems that can be easily located with this non-destructive tool.  Thermal images communicate quickly and effectively to both you the inspector and to your customers.  They are Visual and that speaks volumes for you the inspector who has made the commitment in this powerful technology to allow you to provide a better inspection and identify more issues than other home inspectors who have not made that same commitment to training and technology.  Plus infrared provides an easy to share & east to store record of the presence or absence of problems at the time and on the date of your inspection!

Certified Residential Thermography (CRT): This 2-day home inspector IR training course provides you the knowledge and hands on experiential learning to start using your infrared camera to generate a meaningful ROI.  Check our regional classes held around the country and register early.  Seating is limited.

crt logo working aug 2015