Utah's Best Home Inspections! IXL Infrared Management 801/921-3150

We Perform Home Inspections and Commercial Infrared Surveys/ Residential and Commercial Properties, in the Provo, Orem, Spanish Fork, Lehi, Pleasant Grove and surrounding areas of Utah, Utilizing the Latest Infrared Thermal Imaging Technology.

Chicago Sun Times

The Newest Technology For Home Inspections.

X-Ray Inspections

By Angie Hicks

Steve Katz set his sights on a 3,100-square-foot

home in Bucktown this past June, but before he would sign on the dotted line, he

was wishing he could see behind the walls for any problems that might be lurking

there. Turns out Katz is in luck because new thermal image cameras used by home

inspectors allows them to literally see through the walls.

“Visual

inspections can only reveal so much,” said Frank Lesh, owner of Home Sweet Home

Inspection Co. in Indian Head Park and president of the American Society of Home

Inspectors, Des Plaines. “This technology allows us to see behind the walls

without being destructive.”

Thermal image cameras use infrared

technology — think of scenes from the film “Predator” — to compare the

relative temperature of one object to that of its surroundings. These images can

reveal problems with moisture, electrical and HVAC systems, as well as problems

with insulation, foundation and plumbing. They can even reveal insect

infestations. For example, during cold months a wall with insufficient

insulation will show up as a red spot because it’s releasing so much heat,

whereas an area that’s been penetrated by moisture will show up blue because

it’s cooler.

The problem — only a handful of inspectors offer it. “Last

I checked, there were only 11 inspectors in Chicago doing thermal scans,” said

Will Decker, owner of Decker Home Services and past president of the Chicago

chapter of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

In the

past, the major hurdle was price, but in the last three years, cameras have

dropped in price from an average of $75,000 to $10,000.

Interest is

building.

“Eighty percent of the inspectors who take my continuing

education class say they really want to do it,” Decker said, “and within five to

seven years, I think it will be widespread.”

Katz heard about the new

technology from his real estate agent, and hired Applus Home Inspections to do

the thermal scan. “This is a 100-year-old house, so I didn’t expect everything

to be perfect. But I’m a very analytical person, and I really wanted to have as

much insight into the place as possible,” he said.

Katz said the most

important thing his inspector did was show him the camera up front along with

examples of what the results might look like once he received the report. The

scan turned up a damaged spot on the roof, a wiring issue and evidence of a

plumbing leak behind one wall. Katz decided to proceed with the purchase anyway.

Ranan Engelhart is a buyer who almost did not.

Last month,

Decker inspected a Skokie duplex Engelhart was interested in, and to the naked

eye, everything checked out. But a thermal scan turned up a giant blue spot on

the dining-room ceiling, which he traced back to a loose seal on the upstairs

toilet. “Without the scan, he moves in, and a few weeks from now the ceiling

caves,” Decker said.

The seller eventually agreed to repair the problem,

and Engelhart is scheduled to close in November. “There are a lot of things you

can do cosmetically to make a house look sound, but the thermal scan lets you

see beneath all that,” Engelhart said. “It definitely gave me the confidence

that the place was in relatively good shape, and I know the extent of any

problem areas.”

Thermal scanning is a hard thing for many home buyers to

grasp, but industry experts believe that interest will increase as more learn

about the potential value of its findings, especially as related to energy

savings.

Jonathan Gonsky agrees, and has been marketing the service to

Chicago area Realtors to increase awareness.

“The rising costs of

heating and cooling are a big concern, and thermal scans offer buyers two great

services — the ability to spot potential risks and identify energy-saving

opportunities,” said Gonsky, a manager for Applus, which began performing the

scans six months ago. “They’re extremely useful for older homes where drafts and

electrical issues are more prevalent, especially if you’re buying a gut or

partial rehab.”

Lesh thinks the scans have value, but warns homeowners

that they’re no magic pill and typically go way beyond what a normal inspection

requires. “It’s not cheap, but if you’ve got a real problem, such as a room

that’s really cold or really hot compared to the rest of the house and

everything to the naked eye looks OK, it might be a good idea to bring it in.”

Prices vary, from as little as a few hundred dollars up to the

thousands, depending on square footage. Katz paid Applus $350 for his thermal

scan, and said the cost was well worth it. “No one wants to buy someone else’s

problems. To go a level deeper and get behind the walls is very valuable — it

could be the difference between paying $400,000 for one place or not,” he said.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List. She can be reached at

www.angieslist.com.

DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR HOME INSPECTION

Thirty

percent of 1,428 Angie’s List members participating in a recent poll said their

home inspector missed items that became a major expense down the road.

Considering a home is often the most expensive purchase you’ll make in a

lifetime, don’t skimp on the inspection.

Illinois requires a state

license of every home inspector, so be sure to ask for proof of license. You can

visit www.idfpr.com/dpr/ re /relookup.asp to check the inspector’s licensure

status.

Illinois does not require insurance for home inspectors, but

many carry it voluntarily and it’s a good idea to hire those inspectors who are

insured. There are three kinds of insurance: general liability insurance, which

protects the inspector and the client in case of error (a ladder through a

window, for example); bonding, which protects both inspector and client from any

theft or missing items, and errors and omission insurance, which protects the

client against any mistakes the inspector might have made during the inspection,

kind of like malpractice insurance.

A large temperature difference

between inside and outside air temperatures usually ensures the most accurate

thermographic images, so it makes sense for Chicagoans to time their thermal

inspection for the winter months. If this isn’t possible, shoot for early

morning or late evening hours during warmer months.

Thermal imaging

requires extensive training; ask for proof that your inspector has received it.

Look — and smell — for signs that something isn’t right. Check the

corners of the basement and closet and utilize your sense of smell when you walk

into a home.

Ask to see the current homeowner’s energy bills, but don’t

just pay attention to the balance due. Look at the thermal units and the number

of heating and cooling degree days. If there’s a big increase over last year,

the home is energy deficient.

Copyright 2007 Chicago Sun-Times. All

rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited. Read Article Here.

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