It might look like a simple electronic device, but an IR camera is an expensive tool that might just be worth it.
How familiar are you with infrared technology? If you’re a new inspector, it might be completely foreign. But it’s time to break down any barriers and get with the program.
Inspectors have used infrared technology for years, and Christopher Casey, President of Monroe Infrared, tells Working RE Inspector magazine that the benefits are well-documented. If you’ve been holding out or aren’t sure whether the investment is worth it, here’s what you need to know about the benefits of this tool.
Infrared Technology Doesn’t Come Cheap
One of the biggest reasons why home inspectors resist investing in an IR camera is the cost. They’re not cheap, not by a long shot. Casey explains that the typical price range is fairly broad. Some lower-cost cameras that still get the job done can be had for about $2,500. On the high end, you could expect to pay as much as $10,000. For a good mid-range camera, he recommends paying around $3,500 – $4,000.
Naturally, the better the camera the better the results. But a very low-end IR camera might not be worth the trouble even if it saves you money. Resolution lower than 19,000 pixels and a thermal sensitivity of below 0.09°C can overlook important issues. Missing a problem without an IR camera is one thing. Spending money on equipment that still misses problems is something else.
An IR camera can spot thermal variances that indicate air leaks and bigger problems with the home and the appliances in it.
The Return on Investment Can be High
Time was, an IR camera was a nifty gadget. Now, more customers expect it. They identify more problems, and laypeople are aware of the technology. If one inspector doesn’t offer it, savvy customer business might go to another inspector who does.
On the upside, Casey says that most of the inspectors he talks with say they enjoyed a return on their investment within the first year of owning infrared technology. Depending on the model, some see as much as a 200 percent ROI. “Many inspectors find that customers will pay for what they perceive to be added value, presented to them by someone who is professional, experienced and who can demonstrate their qualifications and knowledge in the subject matter,” he explains.
Better Technology Can Increase Inspector Liability
Of course, with the sweet come the sour. Offering a more comprehensive service to customers can open inspectors up to enhanced liability issues. Casey recommends adding clear verbiage to your existing inspection contract that spells out what the infrared technology can and can’t do.
Inspections are still visual with an infrared camera. They give enhanced information, but they’re the same “snapshot in time” assessment of the property that any inspection provides. They can’t predict, so the customer’s expectations should be managed on the front end to avoid the potential for a lawsuit.
All great tools make your job easier and more effective. But few come with the same price tag as infrared technology. That, alone, makes most inspectors think long and hard before plunking down a credit card and then taking the time to learn how to use the device. But investing in a more reasonably priced model could make your services more marketable to an increasingly tech-aware customer base.
There’s always something new to learn in the home inspecting industry. But it all begins with earning a certification. Enroll now with ICA School’s training course and start working toward your new career right away.