I used to conduct home inspections much like anybody else. About nine months ago, a wise person convinced me to dive into hi-technology with every aspect of my business. One of the first things I invested in was a state of the art camera that uses Infrared Thermography (IRT). After $7,000 was invested, then some educational classes conquered, I immediately saw the value of this device. I am absolutely convinced that IRT will be a necessary tool for every home inspector in the near future.
The very first home inspection I conducted while using my IR camera showed a distinct problem that would not, and could not have been identified by any other means, short of physically destroying one wall in the master bedroom. Due to my inexperience with the new IR camera, coupled with the glaring anomaly identified in my viewfinder, I had to go consult my educational tools to confirm what I was seeing was in fact true... and being properly diagnosed by me.
What I saw was one entire wall of the master bedroom had insulation inside this wall... but the insulation only went half way up! And this wall was entirely exposed to the elements... it was not an interior wall. As it turns out, there had been a company come out and blow insulation into this wall which was part of an addition. Either they were in a hurry, or they wanted to scrimp on materials and save some money, or they just didn't know what they were doing.
Either way... the new homeowner was ecstatic about finding this problem. Without IR technology, the existing condition would have remained unnoticed, the master bedroom would have been difficult (and expensive) to heat in the winter, and difficult (and expensive) to cool in the summer. The homeowner showed the hard evidence to the insulation contractor who came back and fixed their mistake without question.
The very next home that I inspected a few days later had a similar problem which also happened to be an addition. Only this time, the contractor who built the addition figured nobody would know once the drywall was installed... so he put up the walls with absolutely no insulation at all! Again... no home inspector would have been able to find this problem without an IR camera.
In the time since those two inspects, I have found numerous problems through the use of my camera. It is able to find conditions conducive to mold & termites; even mice inside of walls. Also, it is a magic tool for identifying areas that cause enormous energy loss. You can see digital photos of some of the uses and problems on my web site at: www.oxbowinspections.com/mold.php or www.oxbowinspections.com/difference.php
There is no doubt in my mind that as time goes on and this technology becomes less expensive, that it will become a standard tool for every home inspector. The real advantage is it will keep the crooked contractors at bay and in trouble... and the real people who benefit will be the unsuspecting and innocent homeowner.