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Old 07-26-2020, 12:01 PM   #1
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NRVIA inspector certs

I am considering going through the NRVIA. Certification process to do RV inspections. Are there other associations? Are their programs worthwhile?

Looking to setup myself doing a few RV related things for "retirement". Among a couple of other things.

A RV inspector seems to be a good fit. Not sure of demand, but coupled with my general knowledge, perhaps it's a good fit?
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Old 07-26-2020, 05:10 PM   #2
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:25 PM   #3
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I went through it about two and a half years ago in the spring of 2018, but never hung out a shingle. At the time they were just getting well organized, and were still building the big red barn training facility, I also attended the fall 2018 conference that was held in the big red barn, (and was scheduled to attend the spring conference this year that was canceled due to Covid) though it was still a month or so away from being completed the smaller class rooms were still bare walls, doors were not hung, restrooms not yet functional, etc. just done enough that we had lights and air conditioning in the main floor area.


I did the level 1 program doing the home video course, over about 2-3 days, watching videos and taking the tests, I will not say I learned nothing, but it was mostly stuff I already knew as a DIY'er motorhome owner, with only learning a few little details here and there. I could have probably passed the test without watching the videos, but there system requires watching the video before one can take the test.


Level 2 was MUCH more intense, The class I was in had about 20 people, I think I was the only one in the group who had done the Level 1 as the home video course option, most of the others had done the in person Level 1 course the week before, a few had done it months earlier. I was at a bit of a disadvantage in the level 2 course as several times the instructor glossed over stuff referring back to items covered in lectures the previous week, but not covered on the home study version of the course or tests. Stuff like remember how last week we covered how to tell a Dometic refrigerator from a Norcold by the outside cover. (this was actually covered in the home video course, but is an example the sort of thing that might be glossed over).


Overall the Level 2 course was good, though I could tell it was still a work in progress, hopefully it is better now. It was also the most intense training course I have done in a long time, perhaps ever. The only one I can compare it to was when I did my scuba instructor training course and evaluation back around 1990, which was another intense 7-8 days of course work. Simply put the class started at 8 am ran to 5 pm with an hour lunch break, then there was 3-4 hours of homework to do each night, then repeat. A lot of the level 2 part was the mechanics of how to do an inspection, log details, use their suggested report generator software, and actually create inspection reports. It also included all the sorts of things one should look for, like signs of Sodium Chromate from a leaking refrigerator, how to perform propane leak down testing, testing for hot skin electrical conditions, measure delta T for air conditioners, etc.


In general a good course, though I feel some subjects were deserving of more time, though I don't know where one would find it in the schedule, if anything I think the class needed about 2 more days of classroom time to fill out these items.


One of the things I felt was lacking was support actually getting out and starting an RV inspection business. In the end after going through the class, I have done little with the skills I learned from the course, as I have not found a way to make enough money at it to cover the overhead given where I live, the relatively few RV's that are sold within what I feel is a comfortable driving radius (75-90 miles), as a part time job, given the seasonal nature of the work, and my other obligations.


Given the time requirements to do a proper NRVIA inspection, it is very hard to schedule them more than about 1 inspection per day, as it is an all day project most of the time. On the low end one is looking at about 4 hours for inspecting a travel trailer, plus another 2-3 hours looking up recalls, doing associated online research, and generating the report. Add in scheduling, seasonal nature of RV sales, weather conflicts, etc. and I found I was realistically looking at doing inspections perhaps 2 days per week, and 6-7 months out of the year max. With a break even point being somewhere around 2-3 inspections per month. Overhead cost of running a business, getting liability and errors and omissions insurance, would be in the $3,000+ per year range assuming I would be using a private vehicle, likely over $4,000, going up from there if a company truck or van were to be bought for the doing inspections.
Add in another $600 per year for inspection software fees, NRVIA membership dues of $500, ... In the end I came up with a minimum break even number which would have required me to perform at least 10-12 inspections per year before I saw a cent of profit.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:55 AM   #4
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I wonder if RV tech training would yield both wider & deeper skills, yet still qualify you as a legitimate inspector.


https://rvtechcourse.com/
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:14 AM   #5
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Thanks, I'd actually be more interested in technician certification than inspection....

Based on many, many threads and post here that there's a need for good technicians.

I'm already master ASE med/heavy truck, advance diesel, master ASE automotive, CNG fuel system

Question:

How important to the RV crowd that the technician is certified?
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:19 AM   #6
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They are both programs offered by the same group, and have different focus I doubt it, taking the NRVIA level 2 class, the focus is really on general knowledge of RV systems and ability to identify problems. The inspector program does not care about fixing the problem, and it is stressed in the class that the job of an RV inspector is not to Fix a problem or Diagnose a problem, just to identify a problem exists. ie in the course of an inspection if the inspector finds a wire not connected, he should leave it, note that the system is not functioning, and not try to give reason it is not functioning such as blown fuse, or loose wire. Only alerting the seller of these if it is a life safety issue.


On the other side the repair technician likely has not been trained to look at all the details that an RV inspector has been trained to look at, and are more concerned with how to fix the failed system, not evaluate the wear level and damage in the rest of the system.


Lets take a Schwintek slide as an example, an inspector is trained check the condition of the top of the slide, seals, slide topper, etc. check for signs of water penetration, windows, window seals, drag marks, wear marks on the tracks, as well as smooth function.


By contrast the repair technician is mainly concerned with operation and alignment of the tracks, and drive system. As well as how to replace drive motors in event of failure. I use this example as I have done both the NRVIA level 2 class, as well as sat through the Lippert 2 day technician course which spent a few hours on Schwintek slides.




p.s. I was typing when your last question came up, I feel being certified is a big help particularly if you will be performing any type of warranty work. Also automotive mechanic experience does not necessarily transfer over. Lets continue the example above of slides, you have a possible motor failure in a twin motor operated slide, can you diagnose if the problem is the motor or controller by swapping the motor A and motor B control wires at the control box, or not? This is a trick question, because it depends on the brand and model of slide, some you can use this to isolate the problem, some you can't.
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:56 AM   #7
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Thanks! You have provided some good feedback.

I'm currently a heavy truck tech instructor at technical college, but with the covid19 yuk may have to pursue something else...
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
How important to the RV crowd that the technician is certified?

NRVIA certification would not at all be important to me, as long as the person had some sort of qualifications. Experience or training as an RV tech would easily count, in my book anyway. I just want to feel comfortable that the guy has the skills to do the job.


More important to me would be a professional description of what he will inspect and how he will report to me. A phone call that merely says "I didn't see any big problems" is a lot less comforting (to me) than a more detailed report, e.g. "water heater heats to standard temperature and shuts off, tested on both gas & electric".
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:53 PM   #9
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Gary, part of the reason the NRVIA was founding was to set certain standards for RV inspectors, both in minimums of what is inspected, as well as ethics on inspection process, while still giving inspectors the ability to offer inspections above this minimal level, which is things the NRVIA deem as life safety issues, that include such things as tire age, functioning LPG and CO detectors, propane leaks, electrical faults, ... note roof leaks are considered life safety due to the chance of mold forming. On the ethics side, NRVIA inspectors are only allowed to reveal the contents of their reports to the customer (except for life safety items which they are required to reveal to the seller), they are barred from doing any repair work for the customer for 12 months from the time of the inspection, and they are not allowed to take kick backs from dealers.


It should also be noted that the founders of the NRVIA also operate the National RV Training Academy, which focuses on training RV technicians at the same training center facility as is used by the NRVIA. So there is a certain amount of room for confusion and crossover there, even though the programs have different goals,. Based upon attending one of the national NRVIA conferences 2 years ago I can say that about 25-30% of NRVIA inspectors also work as RV repair technicians.
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Old 07-30-2020, 01:10 PM   #10
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Gary, part of the reason the NRVIA was founding was to set certain standards for RV inspectors
I get that, and think it's a positive step for the RV inspection business. However, I'm just relating what would be important to me if I were hiring an inspector. I want to know if the guy has solid knowledge of all RV systems and whether he is going to do ore than turn things on to see if the indicators light up. There is a broad range of effort/skill that could be applied. but your criteria may be different than mine..


To the best of my knowledge, nobody at NRVIA is policing what their trainees actually do after graduation, or removing certification if they fail to do a good job for their clients. Nor is there a standardized inspection process that each NRVIA inspector promises to perform or a standard report to buyers. Once the inspector goes into business, he sets his own business practices and you still have to assure yourself of what you will actually get as an "inspection". Some inspectors have a lot of technical skills, while others have what they earned in the Level 1 or Level 2 classes only.
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Old 07-30-2020, 03:26 PM   #11
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There is some policing of NRVIA inspectors, though I suspect it is mostly regarding ethics violations. There is also a continuing education requirement, that can be filled through taking repair technician classes, etc. This is why I attended a few technician classes at the NRVIA conference, Lippert 2 day technician class, RV lock class, ... I also wanted to do the Dometic class, but it was full.


As to your other point on technical experience, vs the NRVIA level 1 / 2 training. I personally feel that in an ideal world the person would have experience at both. But when it comes down to it I would much rather have an inspector trained to pay close attention to details of water intrusion, and that is good at spotting signs of structural issues than one that can diagnose problems with RV appliances in their sleep. Since all the inspector really needs to know is does the refrigerator, furnace, water heater, etc. work, or does it not work, as any diagnoses is just a guess until parts get swapped out.


Repair is not the inspectors job, and could be a liability issue if he tries to diagnose or repair anything during an inspection, regardless if the repair is successful, regardless of how trivial the repair might be.


Lets say the generator starts, but will not stay running, the seller knew this so had discounted the price of the motorhome. The inspector was also knowlegeable about RV generators and noted that governor linkage was out of place on the carburetor.


If he clips it back into place and it fixes the generator the seller may raise his asking price. At which point his customer, usually the buyer is going to be VERY UPSET. Conversely if he tells the customer that the problem with the generator is the governor linkage adjustment, they buy it snap the linkage into place and then find out the stator is burned out, they are also going to be upset. At best an inspector can note in his report, observed loose wires, or observed linkage out of place, but not make any suggestion as to the repair process.


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Old 07-31-2020, 11:19 AM   #12
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I agree with all your points but am a bit confused by parts of it, Isaac. I don't think anybody suggested that an inspector was going to diagnose or fix anything. I would, however, expect him to be able to discern the difference between "the lights don't work" and "the batteries are dead". That's a matter of relating symptoms to problems.
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Old 07-31-2020, 12:54 PM   #13
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Gary, my point is that such things are covered in the level 2 inspector course, which sets in detail points that an inspector should check on specific RV appliances and systems, where the level 1 course is more of a general overview of rv systems.


Lets take one of the simpler to inspect RV appliances, the roof top air conditioner, where the inspection standard involves a cosmetic overview of both the roof side and interior panels, looking for such things as bent fins, cracked covers, confirmation that the controls work, and a delta T measurement of inlet and outlet air temperatures. As well as logging of model and serial numbers, and looking to see if there are any recalls for the unit online.



Now sure there is more a trained RV air conditioner technician might do if evaluating an air conditioner, but they are all more in depth, all require partial disassembly of the unit, something that is excluded by NRVIA standards other than opening access panels, such as at the back of the refrigerator. these might include measuring inrush amp draw, testing the capacitors, freeze sensor, etc.


The point is for the standards of does it function, the NRVIA standard evaluation procedure is more than enough.


As to your example of lights don't work vs battery is dead, this is also covered in the NRVIA training, though as testing voltage at the coach and house batteries is part of the standard testing procedure. In the case of dead batteries, the report would likely go, could not test X,Y,Z due to house batteries being dead, requested seller replace batteries so test could be done, they did do so. Much the same sort of note should be expected on the report if the RV was located at a site without water hookups, or was winterized when it comes to evaluating the plumbing system.


Gary, as an experienced RV'er let me ask what your standards would be for inspecting an RV absorption style refrigerator? Note that the NRVIA standard requests that the refrigerator be turned on at least 12 hours prior to the inspection.
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Old 07-31-2020, 04:57 PM   #14
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.... I'm still following, there's some good dialogue here!
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