When a floor covering, carpet or rug doesn’t turn out as expected or as specified one or more of the parties involved are going to be unhappy. And that’s when a certified carpet or floor covering inspector is called in. The inspector’s job is to sort out the facts, figure out what went wrong, file a written report, and in some cases correct the problem if possible.
Some companies still handle claims internally; however, the trend is toward more widespread use of independent third-party inspectors. When hired by a manufacturer, the inspector’s role is to be the on-site eyes and ears of the company–to look, test, take samples if needed, and write a report which may include opinions and possible solutions.
Floor covering failures are seldom a simple matter. Add to this millions of dollars in potential liability, wide spread use of sub-contractors, along with a more educated and vocal buyer and you start to understand the role and challenge of the independent floor-covering inspector.
What’s In It for You
Better service to your customers:
The more you know about carpet and floor coverings the better you will be able to meet the needs of your customers. Becoming an inspector will increase your personal and business opportunities by expanding your understanding of the problems you and your customers face on the job each day. Regardless of your experience in the cleaning industry, inspector training will give you a whole new understanding of what’s involved in properly maintaining floors and carpets of all types.
Money–Inspectors charge for their services:
The average charge for residential inspections is $85.00 plus travel time and mileage. Commercial inspections start at about $150.00 or more for the initial visit, plus expenses. Hourly charges for corrections and additional inspection related services are generally billed in the range of $85.00 to $125.00 per hour. Expert witness and court testimony is billed in the range of $165.00 per hour and up.
Personal and Industry Professionalism:
The cleaning industry needs to improve its image. Colleges and Universities don’t offer degrees in cleaning. Advanced training in the cleaning industry is available through specialized training programs and seminars. Some sanitary supply sales reps have completed a carpet cleaning certification program. Certification as a carpet or floor covering inspector is the next logical step in personal and professional development for anyone who is certified as a carpet-cleaning technician.
Expand Your Horizons:
The world and our role in it is changing on a daily basis. To remain competitive in the market place and prepare for the challenges of the future, we must look beyond our normal range of view to find new opportunities for profit and service.
More About Inspections
There are two general categories of inspections. The most difficult and complex are the commercial jobs which are generally larger, with bigger dollar amounts involved and more likely to end up in court. Residential inspections deal with smaller areas and are generally not as complex as what you might face in commercial properties. In either case a good inspector must have a thorough overall understanding of everything that can impact the performance of a floor covering or carpet.
This background starts below the floor with an understanding of soils, moisture, pH, construction and concrete as well as underlayments and sub flooring materials. Next comes an understanding of how carpet and flooring materials are made and what type of defects can be built into the materials themselves. These are commonly referred to as manufacturing defects. Shipping, storage and handling of these surfaces can also impact the end result.
Once the product arrives at the job site it must be installed. Herein lies additional opportunities for things to go wrong. And unfortunately installation defects are common with all types floor coverings and carpet. The last areas to deal with are specification, use, maintenance and expectation issues.
Many inspectors develop an area of specialty based on their background and experience; others are generalists. The more skilled inspector may also offer consulting, adjudication, expert testimony, training and correction services. Research, investigation, testing, lab analysis, report writing and documentation are important skills that all inspectors must develop.
Who Hires Inspectors?
Inspectors frequently work for carpet, rug, vinyl, ceramic, stone, wood, laminate and specialty floor covering manufacturers. In addition their services are used by installers, dealers, distributors, retailers, consumers, attorneys, property owners and managers, contract cleaners, carpet and upholstery cleaners, arbitration services, consumer advocates and architects. Other users include manufacturers of upholstery, fabrics, adhesive, cushion, underlayment and related chemical companies that market spotters, cleaners, finishes and topical treatments such as soil, spot and stain repellents.
Most inspectors work on a local or regional level and market themselves as such. Some inspectors with extensive or specialized experience offer their services throughout the country and on an international basis.
What It Takes to Be an Inspector
A good inspector has several years’ experience dealing with one or more aspects of floor coverings or carpet. Carpet cleaners, installers, manufacturing reps and related sales experience is a good starting place for inspectors.
You must also develop good investigative and analytical skills. Being that the parties involved each have their own agenda and perspective you seldom get the whole story and nothing but the truth. You have to be a good listener; able to withhold comment and deal with the emotions of those involved without getting caught up in the excitement.
Training and ongoing education is also required. First you must successfully complete a comprehensive training course, pass an extensive written exam and meet other requirements to be certified by the IICRC or one of the training schools. Then you need to get listed in several of the national directories and with referral services. And finally you are ready to market yourself locally to those who have a need for your services.
Changes are taking place rapidly regarding products, surfaces, testing and technology so ongoing education is required to stay current and maintain your certification.
It is also necessary to develop an inspection tool kit. Common items include: a portable microscope, camera, tweezers, ultraviolet light, moisture detector, scissors, utility knife, small plastic bags, felt markers, flashlight and an awl. Your kit is generally customized depending on one’s specialty and can grow into several tool boxes or a van if you advance to the point of correcting many of the defects you have learned to identify.