It really is interesting to see the interest grow in regard to thermal imaging cameras and the home inspection profession over the last few years.
Since we bought our cameras and went through the classes for Level I thermographer in Massachusetts several years ago, I have attended seminars and led five of my own in various locations for ASHI and ITA. Each time, the increased interest and excitement has led to suggested new uses. We discussed finding leaks on roofs, hot spots on electric panels, clogs and broken piping on plumbing and piping buried in cement slabs, but now we are focusing on insulation voids, bad windows, PEX piping, and dryer and bathroom venting. Every time we do another home, we are looking at more house problems that may be detected by a thorough scan.
Just as important, the increase in liability this technology can add to the average inspection must be considered. Many inspectors have embraced the cameras as a means to extend the diversity of their businesses, and I’m all for that. When times are slow, adding imaging as a form of consultation just makes sense. The public is looking for any way to approach decreasing energy use by evaluating a home for missing insulation, poor construction and water intrusion. When used properly, the camera can demystify items that we cannot visually see with the naked eye or a strong set of binoculars.
The tricky part is the subtleties that demand a more experienced inspector who has really played with the technology. No one should rush into this aspect of consulting, and you should really practice and hone your skills. Reflected heat can really mess you up, as can odd temperatures at different times of the day that can mask a problem. Thermal cameras can misrepresent the information if they are dropped, bumped or simply need annual calibration. The newer cameras are allowing better definition, with larger video screens and new software that can more easily pinpoint a problem when one exists.
The thermal imaging consultant should be well trained and spend lots of time practicing with the equipment before hanging out a shingle inviting the public to hire him or her. When we went to school, most of the schools were not sure what to teach. Now, we are really starting to understand the idiosyncrasies of the cameras and how the science integrates with good building practices.
I am hopeful that with this growth in interest, there will be more courses, certifications and techniques developed that will create a standard of care that will offer an added value to home inspections and consulting. This will help buyers as well as owners learn more about the condition of their homes. And, it will add to the services we can provide to them.
Steve Gladstone, Chief Inspector
Stonehollow, Inc. Fine Home Inspections
2004 ASHI President
Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center speaks to home inspectors
Reprinted with permission
Although the average person may not consider it, home inspectors face several occupational hazards. Perhaps the greatest risk is the potential for asbestos exposure. Approximately 35 million residences within the United States were constructed using asbestos-containing materials, including insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, and roofing implements. When these asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or damaged, the tiny asbestos fibers may become airborne, putting home inspectors at risk for inhalation. Asbestos exposure has been conclusively linked to the eventual development of mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer that has no known cure and a survival rate of less than 1 percent.
Home inspectors must adhere to safety guidelines when they are on the job. This includes wearing protective equipment, such as an approved NIOSH breathing apparatus or eyewear, when inspecting a structure that may contain asbestos-containing materials. The center advises consumers that it is important to work with a home inspector who is a certified member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ASHI.org) to ensure that they will follow appropriate safety rules in an effort to protect all individuals involved in the inspection process, including their employees and homeowners.
The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center is the Web’s leading resource for information related to asbestos exposure, mesothelioma and mesothelioma treatment options. (www.maacenter.org.)
ASHI Certified Inspector Bob Mulloy, President, Allsafe Home Inspection Service, Inc., Bridgewater, Mass., obtained permission to reprint this article. He is the chair of the ASHI-NE Chapter Education Committee and has been a frequent contributor to the ASHI Reporter.
NAR® says home sales to vary in narrow range, then rise in second half
Washington, July 08, 2008 – Modest near-term movement is expected in existing-home sales, with a recovery in sales seen during the second half of the year, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors®.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in May, fell 4.7 percent to 84.7 from an upwardly revised reading of 88.9 in April, and remains 14.0 percent below May 2007 when it stood at 98.5.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said some pullback after a sharp increase in the previous month was expected. “The overall decline in contract signings suggests we are not out of the woods by any means. The housing stimulus bill that is still being considered in the Senate is critical to assure a healthy recovery in the housing market, jobs and the economy,” he said.
The PHSI in the West slipped 1.3 percent to 97.5 in May, but is 2.0 percent higher than May 2007. In the Northeast, the index declined 2.9 percent to 77.0 in May and is 16.4 percent below a year ago. The index in the Midwest fell 6.0 percent to 78.6 and is 13.8 percent below May 2007. In the South, the index dropped 7.1 percent in May to 84.5 and is 22.1 percent below a year ago.
Double-digit pending sales gains in May from a year ago were noted in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Spartanburg, S.C.
Based on current indicators, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is forecasted to rise gradually to 6.5 percent by the end of this year, and then hold at that level for most of 2009. NAR’s housing affordability index is improving this year and is likely to rise 15 percentage points to 127.0 for all of 2008.
Existing-home sales are expected to grow from an annual pace of 5.01 million in the second quarter to 5.75 million in the fourth quarter. For all of 2008, existing-home sales should total 5.31 million and then increase 5.0 percent next year to 5.58 million.
The aggregate median existing-home price is projected to fall 6.2 percent this year to $205,300 and then rise by 4.3 percent in 2009 to $214,100.
New-home sales are likely to fall 32.3 percent to 525,000 in 2008 and decline another 3.4 percent next year to 507,000. The median new-home price is expected to decline 3.2 percent to $239,300 this year and then rise 5.3 percent in 2009 to $251,900.