When this buyer called me to ask me to do a final inspection on his new house, I asked if he had done a pre-drywall inspection, to which he said, "We were in Europe." Another thermal imaging story.
This is a new home where the buyer was, from the builder's point of view, the bothersome type.
The buyer would often stop by and check on things.
The buyer would often call or email the supervisor.
The buyer would often make sure that things were done on the day the builder said they would be done.
And the buyer was in Europe when the insulation went up and was not present when the builder typically would do the pre-drywall walk through.
The buyer was not present when I did my inspection either. He had business obligations.
On new construction, if there is a proper temperature difference between indoors and out, I like to do a thermal imaging sweep of the house, and particularly its insulation. I don't know about you, but the older I get the less reliable my X-ray vision has become.
Proper thermal imaging would suggest a minimum of 18 degrees Fahrenheit between indoors and outdoors to properly get thermal information. Indoors was a comfy 72F. And that morning outdoors it was 40F. Perfect. I could hear Mighty Mo panting in his case, anxious to get started.
The master bedroom is kind of separate from the house. It has a cathedral ceiling which abuts the house, but in such a fashion the high walls extend above the roof and the main-house attic space.
There is only one way to be able to check insulation there - a thermal camera.
Imagine these images all put together.
Those lavender, blue and purple areas are very cold by comparison to the ambient temperature in the rest of the room. Clearly the ceiling and wall are missing insulation. That little warmer-looking dot in the third and fourth images is the smoke detector.
The insulation looks not present and/or loosely placed in spots.
THIS IS VERY POORLY DONE. IT IS UNPROFESSIONALLY DONE. IN FACT, IT IS PATHETIC.
Obviously the ceiling and wall were that way when the drywall installers put up the drywall. It should have been seen and taken care of prior to the drywall installation. This missing insulation will affect the temperature in this room summer and winter. And particularly in summer!
The buyer emailed the images to the supervisor. The supervisor asked where the buyer got those "pictures." The supervisor said he had never seen thermal images before and that these can't mean when the buyer says they mean. The supervisor said home inspectors should not be doing thermal imaging.
Really?! What a diaper load.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THE SUPERVISOR WOULD SAY THAT?
BECAUSE THE SUPERVISOR FELT BUSTED!
The buyer also told the supervisor that I will be doing follow-up images after the insulation is "repaired." What do you want to bet that the builder does not allow that follow-up thermal investigation prior to closing? The second time around they won't be able to feign such ignorance.
(P.s. I also found two leaks in the basement foundation wall which I did not know about, the buyer did not tell me about, but the buyer had photos of when they happened weeks ago and the builder said they were fixed..... Hmmm.....)
My recommendation: if a new house can be scanned with a thermal camera prior to the final walk through with the builder it should be! Hire a really cute thermographer (well, aren't they all?) and get in there an have some fun. And the builder likely will not like for you to be doing that. And we all know why.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560