fbpx

Thermal Imaging and Real Estate Inspections?

A professional home inspection is a visual inspection. The inspector can’t see through walls but should find defects that a trained eye can see. What if your inspector could see through walls??? Thermal imaging allows that to happen. The varriance in temprature can show failing circuit panels, leaks in walls (due to temp difference, not moisture) and levels of, or lack of, insulation in walls.

Typically used in commercial applications, the imager are expensive- over $10,000.

The best example site I have seen for residential use is here in Orem, Utah. A full thermal imaging scan ADDS $485 to a 2000-4000 SQFT standard home inspection.

This image shows moisture intrusion that has led to mold growth:
Thermal The image is from the Fluke website. Fluke makes the machine that would probably be most appropriate to residential home inspections.

Is it worth the money and extra piece of mind? Inspections are buyer paid…
Would you choose an agent if it was the agent supplying the machine in conjunction with the inspector (thus reducing the cost of the inspection)?
Does the liability of missing something with the addition of the imager change?

18 Comments on “Thermal Imaging and Real Estate Inspections?

  1. ROI – If it were me, I would be a bit hard pressed to spend the extra money unless there were some convincing statistics on how often thermal imaging uncovered a problem. For example, when used on 100 randomly chosen home inspections, how many times did thermal imaging find a problem that the home inspector missed?

    It is like Radon testing, people have a hard time seeing the ROI if no problems are found. (of course they could regret it later down the road) How many of your clients opt for Radon testing during the inspection process?

    I’m sure the cost will come down over time. It seems like a good additional product that a home inspector can add, but I don’t see myself paying much over $100 for that kind of service.

  2. Thermal imaging for home inspection? Sounds interesting. I have nothing against new technology except that they add more to the costs before one can enjoy its benefits.

  3. The only thing more useless than a real estate agent is a home inspector. The first 5 pages of a home inspection report are disclaimers that they’re not responsible for, well, anything. Basically their report is worth nothing.

    I had home inspections that missed amazingly obvious flaws. I bought a flat-roofed Floridian home once. The inspector went up on the roof to see how it looked. He and his report said all was well. The roof was a big rubber sheet, a common roof type for a flat roof. Ther problem was that it was held down with CAKE PANS FILLED WITH ROCKS instead of a metal bar secured tightly around the perimeter of the roof. Of course it leaked like a sieve and cost me a fortune on damage and repair when the rainy season hit. That’s just one experience of several with the home inspection racket.

    Like an agent that won’t screw a deal by advising their client against getting a risky loan, a home inspector won’t limit his future business with an agent by screwing a deal in pointing out flaws in a house.

  4. Naysayer-

    It’s nice that you share your experience, but could you tone down the generalized slams. What good does it do to start out a post with, “The only thing more useless…”

    And to add to your experience, things do get missed from time-to-time. When you buy an inspection, you are not buying a home warranty, nor is anyone able to predict every possible failure. That being said, home inspectors can, and often do, find critical items that the new homeowner should consider. That being said, some of the crap that home inspectors report as a problem are just minor technicalities to make it look like they actually found something.

    In any event, a person who is not willing to take maintenace risk should not be an owner–isn’t that what renting is all about?

    Why is it that people only want the upside without the possibility of a downside?

  5. Naysayer may have proved Ralph’s and my point. ROI on a $500 thermal inspection to save thousands in moisture damage would have been a great risk/reward. That being said, thermal imaging shouldn’t have been necessary in this case (though flat roof inspections are specifically covered on Fluke’s website. Did you sue the seller and inspector? I’m not an attorney but I would have thought that anybody that claims to have seen the roof would be negligent and I don’t know how you can disclaim your way out of that. Did your buyer’s agent recommend you seek legal advice?

  6. Missing a roof held down by cake pans filled with rocks is not a small thing.

    Can you give me a real-life example of an inspector actually finding something serious?

    Bonus question: Can anybody relate an experience where the appraisal didn’t match the asking price?

  7. Sales fail all the time during the inspection period because of what the inspector finds. Recently: a roof truss system made up of sistered 2x4s. Sale failed (our buyer even climbed into the attic and into the crawl space with the inspector. Second example was mold found by inspector; sale failed and our seller had mold remediated and a new roof put on.

    Two recent appraisals: One $15,000 over asking; cool for our buyer. Second $9,000 under contract NET price. Seller and buyer negotiated a lower price.

  8. You do seem like a decent sort but really, after the sale is over and it’s months past the sale and the rains begin, the agent, the inspector and my cash were nowhere to be found. I can only imagine the laughter if I had called either one expecting compensation. That’s why they have a 5 page disclaimer.

    Bear in mind it was 1986, I was a 26 year old buying his first house. There was no buyer’s agent concept back then and even if there was I don’t believe for a minute that the situation would have played out any different whatsoever.

    When I sold my second home, the buyers could not get an occupancy permit because the water heater was not placed correctly, it was too close to some walls. The sale was over so I was in the clear. The buyers’ agent called me but I gave her nothing. See, I held the open house myself because my realtor was out of town and the buyers just happened to see the sign and came over. So pretty much both agents did nothing except fill out a few forms. I felt that making the buyers’ agent scramble a bit for her clients to solve their dilemma added some justice to what she got paid for doing essentially nothing.

    How I passed the occupancy inspection is beyond me but that is more about city inspectors who I consider to be the absolute lowest of the low. Having dealt with them a few times in different locales I can honestly say that they are as evil as people with power can be.

    Yes, I’m a cranky guy. Is it any wonder I rent now?

  9. When does reducing risk add value?

    Naysayer- Your home inspector sounds like he didn’t provide to you a good service. That being said, my mother had a home inspection, and the inspector did a nice job. He warned her that the roof was getting old, and that a tear-off would be needed. He also discussed the age of the water heater, which she did not realize. Ultimately a home inspection does not change the underlying condition. Inspection does not equate to repair or maintenance, but it can provide some people great information, if the inspector is a real inspector. By the way, my mother located the inspector independent of the agents. While I certainly appreciate seller agents who are being helpful, I also know they are there to sell.

    Did she get value for her money? Do I get value for my car insurance that I am yet to use? Insurance seems useless, until you have an accident, or other covered loss.

    In any event, isn’t it time to let it go, after all it’s 20 years later.

  10. JP said:

    When does reducing risk add value?

    Reducing risk adds value when during the process of reducing risk substantial defects are discovered.

    I guess we could haggle over the meaning of “value”. One of the things that adds value for me is information.

    “And knowing is half the battle…GI Joe!”

  11. Ralph-

    I agree with your approach. You want to know the “expected value” (as used in the statistical meaning), where “value” is measured in dollars rather than irrational behavior. That being said, there are some people who think spending extra bucks for insurance is a great idea, even if the insurance is sold at a negative expected value (again measured in dollars).

    Taken to the absurd, what buyer doesn’t at least “inspect” (i.e. walk in and take a look) the home before making an offer? I am sure there are some, and there are relocation services too, but the majority of buyers simply take a look (i.e. inspect) before making an offer. That being said, I have known many people to rent ahead of a move from hundreds of miles away never having seen the place.

    I am still looking for my magical crystal ball…

  12. Chicago Home Inspection

    Home Inspector providing professional inspections, includin

  13. I HAVE BEEN AN A BUILDING INSPECTOR FOR 30 YEARS. AND I JUST GOT A NEW THERMAL INFRARED CAMERA. AND ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT THERMAL INAGING IS THIS IS THE BEST THING TO COME ALONG. I FIND SO MUCH MORE WITH THE CAMERA. ALL INSPECTORS SHOULD BE DOING THIS SERVICE FOR BUYERS. IF YOU DONT GET IT DONE BUYING A HOME NOW WHEN IT COMES TIME FOR YOU TO SELL IN 5 YEARS THIS WILL BE THE SANDARD AND THAT BUYER WILL HAVE A THERMAL INSPECTION DONE. YOU WILL THEN SEE WHAT WAS OVERLOOK.

  14. Hey Naysayer if your still watching..

    I’m a home inspector and a trained thermographer who recently saved his client $6,000 when he was able to negotiate with the seller, after I detected and photographed moisture damage (mold to be blunt)in the interior walls.

    The only people that don’t like thermal imaging inspections are the ones that have something to hide. I have had *some* sellers and agents cringe at the site of the infrared camera. Why do you think that is? HHMMM…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.