Disaster inspections

Recommended Links:

  1. Parsons Binkerhoff (PB Inspections) www.pbinspections.com
  2. Vanguard Emergency Management (Vanguard EM) www.vanguardem.com
  3. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) www.fema.gov
  4. Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) www.flash.org
  5. FEMA Inspection Tips prepared by ASHI Board of Director Jim Hemsell

The American Society of Home Inspectors strongly supports the education of our membership in the discipline of Disaster Housing Inspections. Each of our members should be available to perform disaster inspections in case of a natural disaster in their locale or even the case of catastrophic disasters such as what occurred in the fall of 2005. The primary purpose of ASHI members becoming Certified Disaster Inspectors is to provide assistance to the FEMA programs on a local basis.  Disasters occur all over the country in many different forms. Performing inspections in your locality provides several opportunities for ASHI members.  Foremost is the ability to assist people in their time of need. A side effect of a disaster is a temporary lull in the real estate market and performing disaster inspections is a way to augment your income during this time.  Publicity opportunities also are available for your business by performing disaster inspections.

ASHI Chapters are encouraged to provide Disaster Inspection Training for their members either as a benefit or advertise it at a reasonable fee for Chapter fund raising.   Minimum class size is approximately 15 and the maximum is 40.  Larger classes can be arranged.

What does a Disaster Housing Inspector do?
They visit the homes of disaster victims who have applied fr FEMA assistance following federally declared disasters.  At the homes, the inspector records disaster related damages into a hand held computer. Based on the inspection, the applicants may be eligible for federal assistance.

Is this full-time work?
No.  Inspectors are deployed “as needed.”  Disaster relief work is unpredictable and intermittent.  After released from working a disaster, an inspector may be “idle” for weeks  or months at a time.

Where are inspectors deployed?
Inspectors are eligible for deployment anywhere in the United States and its territories.

How are inspectors selected for deployment?
The first call for inspectors goes to full time disaster specialists and certified inspectors in the local area.  Second and subsequent calls for certified inspectors in increasing distances from the disaster site. 

Are inspectors required to work all Disasters?
No.  The number of inspectors needed will depend on the scope of the damage.  If an inspector is called out for deployment and is not available at that time, they will remain on the callout list for future deployments.

Is this volunteer work?
No.  A lot is asked of disaster inspectors, and they are compensated accordingly.  Inspectors are paid per inspection.  Inspectors who are organized with good time management skills are well compensated financially.

What can I expect to be paid?
Inspectors typically do at least 10 inspections per day and receive starting  compensation in the range of $50 per inspection.  Compensation is specific to each contractor and increases by level of experience past history of participation of the inspector.

Who pays for the inspector’s expenses?
All inspectors are considered “Independent Contractors.”  As such they are responsible for all their field expenses (lodging, rental cars, food, etc).  However the Inspection Contractor will pay transportation expenses to and from the disaster site.

What classes are required?
Each FEMA approved contractor provides free one day classes held nation wide.  Check the class listings on this site for Chapter sponsored classes (nominal fee for Chapter support may be required) or refer to the contractor links.  Additional online classes may be required that are specific to each contractor.

Are MRCs approved for Disaster Inspection Classes?
Classes are ASHI approved for 8 CEs.

Qualities desired in a Disaster Housing Inspector:

  • Derive satisfaction from helping people in their times of need.
  • Basic familiarity with the building trades related to residential construction.
  • Able to navigate easily around the Windows operating system.
  • Meet physical demands of disaster inspecting including climbing stairs, navigating hazards & debris and maintaining an efficient working pace.
  • Good people skills and expression of compassion  under stressful conditions.
  • Respect people of different races, ethnicities, lifestyles and economic status.
  • Available for short notice deployment and able to work away from home for several weeks at a time.
  • Flexability to work intermittently, depending on need and Mother Nature.
  • Excellent time management skills.
  • Resourceful and able to think on your feet.
  • Ability to use a credit card for expenses is recommended.
  • Ability to rent a car (valid license & good driving record).
  • Carry your own health insurance.
  • Free of felony convictions.
  • Hard worker willing to work long hours, seven days a week for weeks on end.