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Installments: Choosing the right independent inspector

April 25/May 2, 2016; Volume 30, Number 22

By Mike Newberry

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 1.01.18 PMAs a flooring contractor, a good resource to have available is an independent company that is qualified to perform inspections and testing services. Just keep in mind that your specific needs should be addressed when you hire an independent inspector.

There are several critical things to look for when searching for an independent inspector and when it makes the most sense to hire one. Following are the primary considerations:

Obtain results that are objective. Independent inspectors can provide you and your customer with the important information needed to make decisions on how to proceed with the job. Reports provided by an independent inspector can minimize any perception of bias toward either party.

Free up internal resources. It’s time consuming to perform inspection services properly. In addition to the time it takes to perform these services—time that has to be invested in training and continuing education—a qualified independent inspector will always be up to date with the latest changes and will have the applicable certifications.

Qualified personnel and reporting protocols. When we select the installer for our project we always want the most qualified installer to do the specific work. It doesn’t make sense to send your best ceramic mechanic to install heat-welded sheet vinyl with integral cove base. It’s not a good fit for the skill set required, and the outcome will not be the same as it would have been had you sent the trained and certified sheet vinyl mechanic to do the job. The same diligence used when hiring a qualified installer should be applied to hiring a qualified independent inspector.

A little research on the Internet will provide a number of options for locating a capable independent inspector. Almost any organization that provides training and education will also list independent inspectors and their contact information on their website. It is your responsibility to qualify the independent inspector.

A good place to start your search is an organization such as the National Institute of Certified Flooring Inspectors (, which has members from most all of the certifying bodies. Paul Pleshek, president of NICFI, provides insight into some best practices for hiring an independent inspector.

  • When interviewing independent inspectors be sure to inquire about their certifications. For instance, look for certifications from organizations such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), Flooring Consultants and Inspection Training Service (FCITS), National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and International Certification Registry (ICR).
  • Check on the independent inspector’s activity in the industry. An independent inspector’s commitment to continuing education is an important consideration when hiring one.
  • Be sure the independent inspector you select has a thorough understanding of all facets of flooring.

Unfortunately most of us will hire an independent inspector for the first time when we have an immediate need for their services. The good news is that once you have found one you should consider other ways to use his expertise to help you avoid issues and significant costs in the field.