Inspection Unit 3A

Types of Inspections

This section breaks down the inspection process into its component parts. A complete inspection will require all these sections. However, if you only need to do one of them, then the appropriate lesson should provide a good introduction.

Inspection by Phone

When your customer calls, it is necessary that you gather information that will assist you in being prepared to respond to their situation. Like a reporter you need to get as accurate a perspective on the story as possible. Keep the client focused on the present. I have found that customers like to begin talking about their first encounter with wildlife 5 years ago. Coach the client to talk only about the present situation. Remember, your client will often be quite distressed. Generally speaking, what occurred longer than 6 months ago is useless unless the problem has continued from that time to the present. The client should provide you with the following information:

1. The general location and kind of noises heard. The reason for this question lays in the way the answer helps you narrow down the portion of the house where the problem is occurring. Keep in mind that noises will usually be heard in the rooms that people spend the most time in. So don’t be surprised if the bedroom or living room become frequent sites of the complaints. I also want to point out that noises are incredibly unreliable as a clue. I consider noise as important as pain is to a doctor. All noises tell you is that there is a problem. It doesn’t tell you what the cause of the problem is. Raccoons sound like elephants, squirrels like raccoons, and mice sound like squirrels. (Customers tend to amplify the sound).

2. How have they responded to the problem so far? This question tells you whether or not the animal may have changed its habits due to trapping, poison, or harassment. Trap-wise animals can be difficult to catch if the client has already educated them.

3. When did they first notice the problem and is the problem noted on a consistent basis? For example, do they hear noises regularly? It is interesting to note that usually the female of the house hears the noise before the male.

4. What species of animals have they seen on their property? This question has limited value as some species are nocturnal (forage at night) like flying squirrels, raccoons, skunks, etc.

5. Have they seen anything unusual lately such as their dog’s food being scattered about? Again you are looking for patterns and possible food sources.

With answers to these questions in hand, you are now ready to make an appointment and inspect the property. When you make your inspection appointment try to schedule it during daylight hours when it isn’t raining or snowing. This optimizes your inspection in that you can see better in the corners, etc. Also try not to work when there are strong contrasting shadows. A high sun casts heavy shadows, making it difficult to evaluate dark spaces. Inspecting in daylight hours will not only help you see the outside of the house but the light will help illuminate holes in the attic when inspecting there. Before finishing your phone call with your client, ask them to remove any barriers to crawl spaces and attic hatchways before you arrive. Having this done before your arrival will assist you in making the best of your time inspecting.

Of course, these questions are best served for those who plan to get into the animal damage control field. If you don’t wish to trap and control wildlife, then I would suggest asking more questions. For if you ask too many then your client may figure out the problem and you will be out of a job.

©2005 Stephen M. Vantassel

Unit 3B