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  1. #1
    M Kelekci's Avatar
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    Default PaRR inspections,

    I am registered with PaRR inspection for the following training class.

    Anybody attended one of these before?
    Can someone give me heads up?
    What should I expect?
    Or is it even beneficial to spend 8 hours over there for me as a home inspector?

    Inputs appreciated.


    ACEIII-Initial being taught by Jeff Coffey

    Tuesday, 7/24/2007 from 8:00am - 5:00pm

    Houston, TX

    Homewood Suites
    1340 N. Sam Houston Pkwy E. (Beltway 8)
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    Houston, TX 77032

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Matt,

    I took one of PaRR's workshops about 4 years ago. I thought it was well done. But I don't work for PaRR. I work for PB (Parsons-Brinckerhoff).

    As you may know there are two contractors for FEMA - PB & PaRR. Just like Ford & Chevy there are inspectors who swear by one or the other.

    The biggest complaint I have heard about PaRR is they deploy inspectors in a way that makes it hard for the inspectors to earn money. PaRR has a habit of sending too many inspectors to an area (perhaps to impress FEMA with their response). After just a few days there is not enough work to keep all the inspectors busy. That leaves everyone doing 3 or 4 inspections a day - barely enough to pay your expenses. If you are lucky PaRR will then send you (and countless other inspectors) to another area with work but you have a travel day with no income but all the expenses.

    PB, while far from perfect, does a good job of assigning work. They do not oversaturate an area with inspectors. I have typically had all the work I can handle.

    You will have only scratched the surface after attending a one- or two-day workshop. Your real training will be in the field. Even after several hundred inspections you will still be learning. FEMA is constantly changing their guidelines so you need to keep your training up to date.

    PB has excellent on-line training called E-Learning. I just finished my refresher course yesterday. It's a heck of a lot easier to train on-line than to drive to a class. I'm not sure if PaRR offers anything like that. (I don't think on-line training takes the place of the initial workshop but I don't know.)

    In my opinion PB is the better of the two FEMA contractors. I would recommend that you talk to several inspectors for each contractor and decide for yourself who you want to hitch your wagon to.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    The past does not equal the future but all things being equal, Bruce's rear-view explanation of PaRR Vs. PB is dead on. When all is said & done it is very hard to make money with PaRR unless you have friend on the inside taking care of you.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Thanks for the kind words, Joseph. (I think.)

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  5. #5
    M Kelekci's Avatar
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    Matt,

    I took one of PaRR's workshops about 4 years ago. I thought it was well done. But I don't work for PaRR. I work for PB (Parsons-Brinckerhoff)..
    I don't know anyhing about FEMA funded inspections. Attending the workshop is the first step I am taking. I am not sure If there is anything in it for me. I am kind of a new home inspector. ( I have been in construction/real estate for 10 years though).
    Is there any fee involved in this kind of inspections?
    What happens after first workshop?


    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Breedlove View Post
    As you may know there are two contractors for FEMA - PB & PaRR. Just like Ford & Chevy there are inspectors who swear by one or the other.

    The biggest complaint I have heard about PaRR is they deploy inspectors in a way that makes it hard for the inspectors to earn money. PaRR has a habit of sending too many inspectors to an area (perhaps to impress FEMA with their response). After just a few days there is not enough work to keep all the inspectors busy. That leaves everyone doing 3 or 4 inspections a day - barely enough to pay your expenses. If you are lucky PaRR will then send you (and countless other inspectors) to another area with work but you have a travel day with no income but all the expenses.

    PB, while far from perfect, does a good job of assigning work. They do not oversaturate an area with inspectors. I have typically had all the work I can handle.

    You will have only scratched the surface after attending a one- or two-day workshop. Your real training will be in the field. Even after several hundred inspections you will still be learning. FEMA is constantly changing their guidelines so you need to keep your training up to date.

    PB has excellent on-line training called E-Learning. I just finished my refresher course yesterday. It's a heck of a lot easier to train on-line than to drive to a class. I'm not sure if PaRR offers anything like that. (I don't think on-line training takes the place of the initial workshop but I don't know.)

    In my opinion PB is the better of the two FEMA contractors. I would recommend that you talk to several inspectors for each contractor and decide for yourself who you want to hitch your wagon to.
    Just out of curiosity, how can one hitch his wagon to PB?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    I don't know anyhing about FEMA funded inspections. Attending the workshop is the first step I am taking. I am not sure If there is anything in it for me. I am kind of a new home inspector. ( I have been in construction/real estate for 10 years though).
    Is there any fee involved in this kind of inspections?
    What happens after first workshop?




    Just out of curiosity, how can one hitch his wagon to PB?
    PB Inspections


  7. #7
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    I have always wondered how one would do disaster inspections without destroying your business back home. Maybe if you were semi-retired...
    Any comments from those that do it?
    Jim

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    I don't know anyhing about FEMA funded inspections. Attending the workshop is the first step I am taking.
    That's a good place to start.

    The kind of work we are talking about is FEMA's IHP (Individuals & Households Program). In this program FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) offers assistance to people for, among other things, damages to their primary residence and essential personal property. FEMA disaster inspectors are assigned inspections in their assigned area. The inspector will contact his applicants, schedule apointments and make site visits to inspect the property for damages as well as collect information and get signatures from the applicants.

    The workshop covers some of the basic information and data FEMA needs.

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    I am not sure If there is anything in it for me. I am kind of a new home inspector. ( I have been in construction/real estate for 10 years though).
    That is very good experience for this work. You don't have to be a home inspector to be a FEMA disaster inspector (but I think it helps). If you know the difference between a rafter and a soffit you will move to the head of your class.

    A FEMA disaster inspection is very different from a typical home inspection. FEMA is not interested in ALL the damages to the home and personal property. They are primarily concerned with "essential" rooms - bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, living room - and damages to other areas that may affect the essential areas as well as "essential" personal property.

    A typical disaster inspection will take about 30 minutes; some take only 10 minutes (generator only, Not Primary Residence, Withdrawn, etc.) while some may take close to an hour (when you have to spec out a severely damaged house that is not quite "destroyed").

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    Is there any fee involved in this kind of inspections?
    The applicant does not pay anything. FEMA pays you for each inspection. (Actually, FEMA pays the contractor who in turn pays you.) Currently PB pays $48 per inspection. PaRR may pay a bit more per inspection but you have to weigh that against how much work you can do with the way they assign work.

    You should be able to easily do 6 to 8 inspections a day. Once you get comfortable with scheduling and doing the work and learning your way around your assigned area you should be able to do 10 to 12 or more inspections a day.

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    What happens after first workshop?
    First you have to submit your fingerprints and complete a lengthy questionaire for an FBI background check. (FEMA pays for everything.)

    You will be issued an inspector number. FEMA assigns the numbers, not the contractors.

    Assuming all goes well the contractor (PB or PaRR) will place you at the bottom of their list of available inspectors. With only basic training and no experience you will be behind all the other inspectors with more training and experience.

    Guess who gets called first for a disaster. That's right - those guys with more experience. So how will you ever get the call to be deployed so you can get some experience and move up the ladder? There are two main ways:

    1) To be needed for a disaster none of the experienced inspectors want to work, e.g., West Virginia flooding.

    2) A scenario where all available inspectors are needed, e.g., four hurricanes striking Florida in 2004 or the massive destruction caused by Katrina and Rita in 2005.

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    Just out of curiosity, how can one hitch his wagon to PB?
    800-411-1177 or PB Inspections

    There are a few more things you should know before you decide to pursue this. This work is not for everyone.

    You will be an independent contractor. You determine when to start and stop working each day. There is no one looking over your shoulder so you have to motivate yourself to work. The more you work the more you make.

    Most inspectors will start work early, work through lunch and work until almost dark before stopping for supper. In the evening you will be on the phone contacting your applicants and scheduling your appointments for the next day. Plus there is a fair amount of paperwork that needs to be done periodically.

    PB will pay your travel to and from the disaster field office. You are responsible for EVERYTHING else - rental car, fuel, lodging, food, cell phone, postage. Daily expenses are usually between $100 and $150 per day, every day whether you are working or not. If you can do 12 inspections at $48 each ($576) and your expenses are $150 you can clear $426 a day. That's $3,000 a week. Before taxes.

    You are responsible for paying your taxes.

    You will be working in a disaster area. Lodging may be difficult to find. After a hurricane many motels may be damaged. Utilities may be out. Combine the loss of rooms with the increased demand for rooms (displaced residents, Red Cross workers, utility crews, tree trimmers, roofers, insurance adjusters, FEMA, FEMA disaster inspectors, media, etc.) and it may be impossible to find a room in your assigned area so you may have to commute an hour each way every day. If you are lucky you may find a fleabag motel to stay in until something better opens up. (I still have bad dreams about Motel Hell in Pennsacola after Hurricane Ivan.) Or you may have to settle for a bunk at a National Guard armory somewhere.

    You may be stuck some small town where the only places to eat are McDonald's, Hardee's and a truck stop.

    You will be going into damaged houses, many of which are full of rotting fish and animals (after a hurricane surge), rotting food in refrigerators and freezers and rotting clothes and carpets. (Some of the worst-smelling houses are that way naturally. The residents are just slobs.) You will be stepping over collapsed ceilings (sheetrock and insulation) and walking through mud.

    Some areas are impossibly hot and humid with tons of mosquitoes and huge snakes. Inspecting a water-soaked house with no electricity (hence no air conditioning) in South Florida in August is not a pleasant task.

    You will be dealing with highly-emotional people who have recently experienced a traumatic event.

    Due to the nature of the work you will primarily be dealing with people on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder.

    Many people think FEMA is insurance. The truth is FEMA will not restore anyone's home to its pre-disaster condition. The IHP is a band-aid program designed to help people repair their home to a safe, sanitary and secure condition. Period. You will need good people skills to convey the message to your applicants that FEMA is not going to take care of all the damages not covered by insurance or that FEMA will not pay their insurance deductible or that FEMA will not replace their destroyed pool cover (not essential). Sometimes it is best to not explain this bad news and let the app find out when they get their rejection letter from FEMA (when you are long gone).

    Fraud is rampant. You will probably be the only person representing FEMA to visit the app's house so it is up to you to accurately describe damages and to obtain other information FEMA needs to determine an app's eligibility for assistance. If you suspect fraud you should report the info to FEMA's Inspector General.

    Invest in a GPS. You will be able to more than pay for it if you only do 10 or 12 more inspections in a single deployment. A GPS will practically take you to your applicant's doorstep so you don't have to constantly pull off the road to look at a map. If you need to return to an address (e.g., app was not home) simply save the location and the GPS will recall the location with the click of a button or two. Think of the advantage you will have if you are deployed to a location where the street signs have been blown down; you don't need street signs if you have a GPS.

    Like I said before - this work is not for everyone. It is hard, grueling work. The pay can be good. Plus, if you are so inclined, you get a good feeling from helping a truly needy applicant get all the help they are entitled to.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    That was a great synopsis Bruce!

    I have gone through the Parr training myself and have been called a few times to do these kinds of inspections. Unfortunately, I have not been in a position to shut down my business and give them the kind of time commitment that they are typically asking for. I am also married with a family and my being away from home for long periods of time is not a good thing.

    Grueling though it is, this type of work is great for someone with fewer strings attached and a bit of a gypsy spirit. When I was single and living out of a little one bedroom apartment I would have jumped at the chance to do this kind of work. For those of us with families and established owner operated business though, this kind of work is just not a good fit.



  10. #10
    M Kelekci's Avatar
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    WOW. A lot of information.
    Thanks Bruce and everybody.


  11. #11

    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    I took the trainings and am certified with both PB & Parr, but have never gone out on assignment. I was called 3 or 4 times, but declined for many of the reasons already elaborated on in other posts. Bruce hit on most of them. I have decided I am better off staying home and building my inspection business. If you are gone for a period of time the people who have been calling you will go somewhere else and may not come back when you return. There are just too many unknowns when you are deployed and with the expenses ongoing regardless of the work load I don't think it is worth the risk. I was called to Katrina and considered it, if for no other reason than I wanted to do something to help. I turned it down, again, because they couldn't even tell me if I would be able to find a place to sleep other than in my car. You are completely on your own in an unknown, chaotic environment with few, if any assurances about anything. If they had said that arrangements had been made for lodging I might have decided to put my business aside for 3 weeks. Even then, I think it might have hurt my business for a long time in the future. I can't see myself ever doing this until I retire.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Brent,

    It sounds like this work is not a good match for you. The FEMA contractors cannot find lodging for all their inspectors although they do sometimes set up cot camps. They will pass along information about available lodging on their broadcasts (e.g., an inspector knows of rooms available at his motel, an inspector is looking for a roommate, etc.).

    This work is better suited for inspectors who are very independent and don't need (or want) higher-ups holding their hand or looking over their shoulder. As a FEMA disaster inspector you are expected to take care of your day-to-day needs and get the work done. How you do that is up to you.

    Is there a lot of uncertainty? Sure. But that is part of the package. If you can't handle uncertainty (e.g., will I be able to find lodging in my area?) then this work may not be for you.

    I remember talking to one of the girls back in PB's main office a couple of weeks into working the 4 Florida hurricanes in '04. PB had used all available inspectors and was looking for many more. She said a few new inspectors had already requested to be sent home. I couldn't understand why these guys would want to leave with so much work to be done (and money to be made). She said they were complaining about having to step over debris and the awful smells inside the damaged houses. I guess these guys didn't understand what a disaster is and that a disaster area will be strewn with debris and not smell good.

    No, this work is not for everyone. But it is OK for those that are well suited for it.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Some of the other challenges Bruce didn't mention is that you will need to hone your public persona to a razor's edge. In the field you are the public face of FEMA and all kinds of people will be coming to you for all kinds of help. You will on many occasions be working with people who before the disaster were living in abject poverty and now they have absolutely nothing or... be pretending that this is the case, you will have to decide.

    You will be daily on the firing line making decisions that will effect the lives of many others and will be caring a great responsibility, it starts out bad and only gets worse so expect it. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong exactly at the worse time.

    On the other hand, months after my deployment I was still receiving letters from people who I took the time to help, anyway like Bruce said it ain't for everyone and I doubt I will go out on another deployment but it was a great experience.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Burkeson View Post
    On the other hand, months after my deployment I was still receiving letters from people who I took the time to help . . .
    How were these people contacting you, Joseph? Were you giving your name and address to your applicants? (BTW, that's not permitted by FEMA.)

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
    www.avaloninspection.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: PaRR inspections,

    I was using my company vehicle it has my phone number, web address & email address emblazoned on the sides, on my website is all of my contact information, I guess that is how they found me because the letters came through my company mailbox.

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  16. #16
    Chris Nash's Avatar
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    Talking Re: PB inspections,

    Hello out there!!

    I am a 25 year experienced loss prevention inspector and will be attending a PB Disaster class tomorrow. I will let you know what I think and if it's worth it.

    Chris


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