By Chris Wood, VP Trinity Inspection Services
With the rapid rise of Covid, construction lending experienced a wave of changes, creating a new normal. Because of the need to implement social distancing mechanisms and limit physical property accessibility, remote (or virtual) draw inspections became the ‘go-to’ as a quick safety solution.
Remote Draw Inspections – Pros and Cons
Instead of using an inspector to physically visit the structure, most virtual inspections rely on high-speed video and/or photograph technology to depict progress on a construction build. Using these source documents, the draw inspection is reviewed and then submitted as a final progress inspection report.
While many service providers have embraced the virtual or remote inspection methodology as a new and ‘better’ way to perform draw inspections, it’s important to fully understand the pros and cons of completing this type of progress review.
- Easy to Coordinate – Given a physical inspector is not required at the location, the inspection avoids significant travel time with the combined use of video technology and a virtual meeting platform.
- Enhances Safety - Virtual Inspections reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 and/or any other physical hazards.
- Questions Location Accuracy –While much progress has been made with IP based geolocation services, they can only provide an “approximate measure” of geolocation accuracy (between 55 to 80 percent accuracy for a user’s region or state and 50 to 75 percent accuracy for one’s city.)
- Relies on a Solid Wi-Fi Connection/Quick Learning Curve – Any kind of live virtual video inspection requires a steady preferred wi-fi connection along with a quick adaptation of mastering various virtual meeting applications.
- Increases Risk – Ultimately, the report is based on the quality of videos and photos, which increases the risk that the person taking the video/photos may miss items and create report inaccuracies. Unfortunately, in this day and age, details can be misconstrued and videos can be skewed, altering the reality of the property. When this occurs and an independent inspector doesn’t have eyes on the property itself, it drastically increases lender risk.
What’s the Best Solution?
All of this brings us to the big question: Are virtual inspections or onsite inspections better for lenders?
If vaccinations are in place and COVID numbers are down, we believe onsite inspections are still the optimal choice. While technology is poised to revolutionize the industry, the truth is there are many barriers like cell service availability and too much risk involved with current virtual inspections.
At Trinity, the Independent Field Inspector completes a draw inspection in person, reviewing, understanding, and estimating progress on the construction build (always keeping social distancing practices in place while inspecting.) He or she submits the report, and our experienced staff reviews the report for accuracy, consistency with customer requirements and completeness. If the report contains any missing information, Trinity contacts the Independent Field Inspector to clarify and finalize the report.
While remote inspections are used at Trinity on a limited, case-by-case basis, we believe the physical inspection of a property provides reduced risk and ultimately, peace of mind for lenders.