I have been working at Castle Inspection Service as a contractor for more than 8 years
Pros – My Manager Understanding of What We're Dealing with(at least with my Manager)Flexibility To Set Your Own Schedule, However, if you want to make a good income, Over $40,000,(if you consider that good, I don't) be prepared to work 60+ hours per week, which includes drive time and the Zombie Effect, due to staring at a computer 30+ hours a week while remembering, recalling, and organizing a vast variety of detail, especially if you're handling remote areas. Working from Home with Consistent High Speed internet... is a must, preferably over 3mgs of speed. In order to complete inspections without computer lag time, best have minimum 10 mgs of speed. Where I live, it is Not available, hence if getting paid what we're worth, I might be able to rent a small office space. Sure I can make $45,000 per year, but I would probably be working 60 hours per week, every week, with No vacation pay or Holiday Pay!
Cons – Working From Home can have its advantages, but If I was paid more, what we're worth, I would rent an office which would allow me to get faster Internet and allow myself to get away from sitting at home. Getting Paid more would also allow me to be more prepared with vehicle issues that arise due to driving 10's of thousands of miles per year, sometimes driving 200+ miles round trip to only be paid $50.00 for an inspection that takes 4-5 hours round trip and then often, with certain company report platforms, another 2+ hours to complete the report. The company pays a straight $1.75 for gas allowance (yes $1 dollar and 75 cents) per inspection no matter how far you drive. Constant changes to report writing are on a regular basis with several different insurance companies updating their needs requiring more work, ie, fire supplement questions, brush supplement additions, including, for example, an extra brush supplement for 10+ outbuildings, but only being paid the same original $15.00. "It will only take a few extra minutes". That few extra minutes several times per year can add up over several years. Yes there has been twice, an extra $7 dollars or so compensated. which only adds more detail to remember and add to report. The seven dollars is not worth the extra stress! but its required.
Advice to Senior Management – I've given a ONE star rating for Senior Management (above my immediate manager, who has been good to me, and I like Tom Nay) However, the people making critical decisions need to be more in touch with us in the field, fighting for us, rather than consistently bending over for the Insurance companies. understand that more and more work, and changes to report writing, gets extremely frustrating and takes any fun out of the job. Realize that more and more details lead to a zombie effect, and lower quality information being provided. We're Not computers. Management and the Insurance companies don't go far enough in making us feel rewarded for our critical information we're providing for the billion dollar insurance companies and the safety and precautionary measures for the homeowners. We Would like to see you take a stand, Have faith that Castle is The Best Company out there providing this Information. We as Employee/Contractors want to feel rewarded, feel worthy of the job we're doing, and Be Proud To Work as a Castle contractor/employee, knowing we're appropriately, professionally, and fairly compensated. Especially, take into account, Insurance Appraisers who are doing rural and remote areas, or areas with complex housing construction, like San Francisco, or Hollywood Hills. Ideally, if I was traveling Never more than 50-60 miles one way and seldom doing supplements, I could see doing 40+ inspections a month without help. Or if we were generally paid more, I might be able to hire a family member to help out several hours a week, loading photos, etc. Ideally for Castle, you'd probably like to hire someone who has a spouse or partner at home to help out. We/I am aware of this. I'm assuming this is the case with the people doing 60-80 reports a month. We know that ultimately the insurance companies don't really see the value in the information we provide, we know at some level the insurance companies are ok with lower quality work due to the overwhelming details and organizing and articulating the critical information into the reports. Or are they just out of touch! The review by Jeffery Haniewich is right on. Why is it that there is no forum to see how/why other Insurance Appraiser are successful, other than getting up early. I assume you prefer we stay out of touch with other appraisers so that we cannot gather as a cohesive unit and possibly promoting a mutiny like attitude, which is unavoidable anyhow evidently due to the turnover and constant hiring of new Insurance appraisers. We really need to be paid about another 25% on average for the inspections whether one mile away or 125 miles away. For example, a Flat $125.00 per inspection would be appropriate, which includes one supplement of any type(excluding exterior only inspections, which is usually sufficient as is, unless we're traveling beyond 50 miles for just one or two inspections that day. Some exterior only inspection reports should pay about $125.00 also; Insurance appraisers know which company I'm speaking of! Then, for example, for additional supplements, $10.00 for a fire supplement, and At least $25.00 for an additional supplement if it is a Brush supplement. In some cases a brush supplement should be paying us $40+ dollars. Id like to buy a brand new car, but why would I want to do that if I'm driving 25,000 plus miles per year for a company that shows me I'm only worth $1.75 per inspection for gas allowance. This could be a Magnificent and Fun company to work for if we were appropriately and professionally compensated. We Deserve it. The Insurance Companies Deserve High Quality Information. We as Insurance Appraisers deserve A Professional, Appropriate Compensation for the Critical information We provide.
2013-11-29 10:56 PST
1 person found this helpful
I have been working at Castle Inspection Service as a contractor
Pros – Castle has some of the nicest and most professional people I've ever worked with. Contract appraisers have lots of flexibility when it comes to setting their own schedule, and as long as enough work is available we can pretty much decide how much (or how little) we want to work. Once you get good at appraising homes, your pay per hour of work is okay, however it's decreasing by the day.
Cons – I could write a book on the cons that have accumulated over the years. Castle used to be a great company to work for, but "in order to stay competitive," they have been squeezing ever-increasing amounts of work out of their appraisers for ever-decreasing pay.
Here is an example. One of our biggest clients orders both "high value" and "intermediate" appraisals from Castle. The intermediates are for custom homes that aren't THAT custom, so they require less work than a high value and pay maybe 2/3 of what a high value would pay. Recently, this client decided they want all their intermediates written up in the high value cost tool. This means that we now do the same amount of work for intermediate reports as we do for high values, yet we still get intermediate pay!
This is just one of the many ways Castle will bend over for their clients' every wish, passing on the hardship to the appraisers. And it's happening more and more with each passing week. We get emails all week long about the many changes and additions insurance companies are demanding from us that we are expected to keep up with. We are constantly having to learn new report writing platforms as each client decides it wants something different, yet there is no reimbursement for the time it takes to learn them.
Speaking of reimbursement, while Castle is adding more and more work to our plates by the day, they never increase the fees they pay. So our pay per hour is constantly decreasing, and when you factor inflation into the equation, it's that much worse. Also, many appraisers are expected to do remote work, which can mean driving hours to see one home. The reimbursement for these is often ridiculous and doesn't even cover the fuel cost, let alone the hours. But if you're not willing to "take some for the team," they'll find someone who is.
Everything about Castle's website (which is where we write up our reports) is straight out of 1998. It is riddled with bugs, and incredibly, it's only gotten worse with time. Much worse. Where do they find these IT people??? Seriously, it is one of the worst websites of any kind I've ever seen, and it crashes at least 2-3 times a week. They recently "updated" it so it can integrate with something or other, and forms that used to take less than 30 minutes to complete now take 45. No joke. I'm a fairly web-savvy person, and this new version is absolutely infuriating to the point that it honestly makes me wonder if they're trying to drive people away. It's like someone said, "Why do in just 300 clicks what you can do in 500? And while we're at it, lets make it take at least 5 seconds to fill in each field. Oh what the hell, make it 10." It's truly mind-boggling.
This review is really only scratching the surface of all the things that have gone bad over time here. Some may ask why the hell I would continue to subject myself to this. It's a question I've asked myself a lot lately. Truly, the flexibility in scheduling and the part of the job that involves being able to work from home are huge bonuses for me. Every time I start job hunting, I ultimately decide I'm not ready to give up this kind of flexibility. However, the stress and frustration levels involved with working here have finally boiled over to a point where they are not only unhealthy, but they more than offset the scheduling freedom. Which is why I am currently working on my exit strategy.
One last note: I once asked a former manager why Castle valued even their best appraisers so little (I had been told I was one of the best). This manager told me that Castle finds it easier to hire and train new people than to keep the senior people happy - the people who remember what it was like when this was a good company to work for and therefore get frustrated watching everything go downhill. This is because new people "don't know any better" so they don't complain or try to resist Castle's so-called progress (ha!), at least not at first.
As someone recently put it, this company has so much momentum in the wrong direction that trying to change direction would be like trying to steer the Titanic. I, for one, am donning my life vest before the ship slams into the iceberg!
Advice to Senior Management – The more you try to squeeze out of your people, the lower the quality of your product will sink. You are forcing your people to cut corners just to stay above water. This strategy will ultimately contribute to your own demise. You are constantly trying to stop the bleeding with ridiculous quick-fix patches, but the big picture reveals that it's too late - Castle is going to bleed out.
No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company
2013-10-22 11:04 PDT
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