When choosing an infrared survey company to undertake energy surveys, you need to make an informed decision. Like for any industry, due diligence is required. Knowing and recognising the tell-tale signs of dishonest contractors is essential to protect your investment and your property assets from costly and unnecessary maintenance bills.
After explaining what makes up the price of thermal imaging in Part 3 ‘How much does a thermal imaging survey cost‘, we focussed in Part 2 ‘Understanding colours‘ on how, in the main, red is bad when it comes to house surveys and that blue is generally cold. From Part 1 ‘Tech & Science‘, you also know that today’s thermal imaging cameras are digital . This in particular means that the images they produced are open to abuse by unscrupulous thermographers.
Changing the images is just like photoshop these days. In the same way a fashion magazine photo editor can make a model impossibly thin – a thermal image can be made to lie. Very easily.
A real-life case of thermal image manipulation and its consequences
The consequences of manipulating images can be severe. We recently were asked to be expert witnesses against a competitor we actually rate highly. On this occasion however, corners had been cut, parameters not correctly set and they had condemned an entire building as unsuitable for human habitation. The financial implications for the owner were devastating.
The survey was commissioned by a resident of the tower block to prove to the landlord the severity of an issue they were having. However by not setting the camera correctly, the thermographer misinterpreted the image and assumed the problem experienced in one flat was widespread when in fact correct analysis revealed it was confined to one flat and only one elevation of the tower block.
8 questions to ask yourself when choosing an infrared survey company
So what criteria can you use to choose an infrared survey company? Here are 8 questions you may want to ask yourself and research on when it is time to ask for a quote:
- Does the company you are thinking of hiring stand to benefit, commercially, by the survey report? Are they linked to other building contractors? Or do they offer impartial advice?
- Are they using up-to-date and industry-recognised equipment, such as FLIR and FLUKE for example?
- Are they knowledgeable on their subject through participation in industry-related discussions, CIPD events, etc?
- Can they refer you to satisfied clients and provide bona-fide testimonials that you will check?
- How long have they been trading for?
- Are they VAT registered? is it a Limited company?
- Are they trained and how do they keep their knowledge up-to-date?
- Have they won recent industry-related awards?
Other points to consider when choosing an infrared survey company
The company size:
Big companies don’t often have the expertise to focus their efforts on a niche like infrared surveying, so most companies in the sector are small. That doesn’t mean bad. Just small. Don’t assume bigger is better. Rather, try and find a Goldilocks sized company. Big enough to give you confidence, but small enough to be expert in the field and care about their reputation and most importantly about providing you with an excellent service.
Good looking websites are easily achieved these days and they are increasingly cheap. Don’t rely on a flash website with plenty of stock/purchased photographs with no content behind.
Their online presence:
This is more than their website. LinkedIn is a recognised source of professional information, with profiles, posts and updates. It is an invaluable resource to gauge how reputable the company is. Get the names of key people from the company and check them out by searching for them on LinkedIn, like a recruiter does for a job applicant. You should see plenty of personal recommendations, published posts on Pulse, activity on their profile page, a company page regularly updated.
Membership of professional associations
Some companies may also be members of the professional associations such as UKTA, which may help them keep on top of relevant news and provides them with training opportunities to keep their knowledge up to date.
Whatever your reason for requiring an infrared energy survey, by being astute and thorough in your research before appointing an infrared survey company, you will save yourself a lot of headaches, stress and of course money.