Nearly every home has at least one or two areas where a certified home inspector just can’t see or reach. Maybe the living room sofa blocks an outlet or the crawlspace is too low to safely shimmy under. Perhaps the roof is so steep that it’s only safe for a bird or Frisbee to land on.
Home inspectors only inspect what’s visible and accessible. That’s the rule according to most, if not all, Standards of Practice, but it leaves you with a quandary. You still want to provide as thorough a service as possible, even in imperfect situations. Here are 5 outside-the-box ways to help you cover what you can’t see or reach.
#1: Drones are Making Huge Headway in Roof Inspections
Drones are a gift to the home inspection industry. Sometimes, severe weather makes climbing a ladder and walking the roof a dangerous endeavor, indeed. Steeply pitched roofs are sometimes so risky that no one can walk them safely, even when the weather is great.
With a drone, you don’t have to risk life or limb to get a good inspection. Stand on the ground and operate the controller while the UAV scales the roof and sends back pictures and video of the event.
A drone gives your customers a wide-angle view of the whole roof and it can whirl around to capture it from every angle. It takes long- and close-range shots and can navigate around obstacles such as tree branches. It can also scan the whole length of a gutter system instead of you climbing up and down a ladder again and again.
Watch the way that an RC car makes a crawl space inspection easier and a lot less messy:
#2: Got Creepy Crawl Spaces? Get a Radio Controlled Car
What drones do for accessing dangerous roofs, RC cars might do for creepy, shallow crawl spaces. Some crawl spaces are more akin to a shimmy space. Not everyone fits into such cramped quarters, and not everyone wants to.
An RC car outfitted with a camera lets the vehicle go where you can’t. It’s a similar principle as operating a drone, with a handset that displays what the car’s camera sees. You can drive the car through mud, over obstacles and around corners where you couldn’t go even if you did go inside. According to the Bonner County Daily Bee, fifteen-year-old William Greenway designed and built a home inspection rover, and now they’re popping up everywhere.
No more messy, muddy clothes, and no more crawling through who only knows what. You won’t have to creep through spider webs or worry about other varmints under a house, either. Rig an RC car with a camera and you can stay clean and dry while the car does the dirty work.
#3: A Telescoping Mirror Reaches Where You Don’t Want to Go
How in the world do mechanics and dentists see to work in such tight spaces? They use a tool called a telescoping mirror, and you can, too.
This simple device is so small that it barely takes any extra space in your tool bag. But it’s so handy that you’ll probably use it as often as you use a flashlight.
Telescoping mirrors extend to let you look behind and under furniture, under kitchen appliances, around tight corners and inside chimneys. In crawl spaces, they extend your view into inaccessible corners, around plumbing and electrical wiring and many other things that block your view.
#4: Portable Scaffolds Bring High Ceilings Within Reach
It never fails. Something that you need to inspect is slightly higher than an ordinary 6-foot ladder will let you reach. Even worse, maybe the home has a smoke detector high on the wall above the uneven foundation of a staircase.
You don’t have to be Spiderman and scale the wall, and you might not have to leave the inaccessible item uninspected. A convertible ladder and scaffold combination is designed for unusual spaces where a stepladder isn’t safe or won’t fit at all.
Probably the most convenient type of convertible scaffold ladders let you extend and shorten legs independently to match the space. For example, on a staircase, you could set the legs to match the different heights of the stair treads. Convertible scaffolds also give you a longer, flat platform to walk and stand on. That saves you from leaning over or reaching out too far.
#5: Ask the Homeowner for Access
If all else fails, you might ask the homeowner to pitch in and help the inspection move along. Maybe there’s an armoire blocking an outlet or a stack of boxes that cover the attic door. Home inspectors aren’t required to move anything to gain access, but sometimes access is as easy as making a request.
Moving the owner’s belongings is a dangerous endeavor because you might injure yourself. If you try to move the armoire, your back might not thank you for it. Handling their furniture and other property also puts you at risk of a lawsuit.
Imagine that you try to move the boxes that block the attic door, but you accidentally drop one. As luck would have it, that box contains something valuable, fragile and irreplaceable. What if you managed to scoot the armoire away from the wall but accidentally scratched the floor?
Home inspections go more smoothly, and your business takes on less risk if you leave the homeowner’s belongings where they sit. If they agree to move furniture or boxes, unlock doors or otherwise give you access, even better.
Home inspecting isn’t always straightforward, and you can’t always access everything. At the same time, your customers depend on you for as thorough a report as you can provide. With a little creativity and a few new tools, you can work around obstacles and access the inaccessible.
Home inspecting is interesting and sometimes exciting work. If this sounds like the career path for you, ICA School is the right place to start. Enroll now in our online learning program and begin carving out your own creative home inspection solutions within a few weeks.