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I'm adding text to my report template. The goal is to mimic the SOP with a short phrase at the start of each section. This way, the reports will say that I inspected the systems. Of course, I'll freewheel in describing the problems that I find but these additions will be built into the template with the intention of being in every report.

Here's a couple examples.

Site Information

Where applicable and unless otherwise noted;

I inspected the accessible and visible vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls that could likely have an adverse affect on the building. I inspected the adjacent entryway walkways, patios, and driveways.

Foundation/Structure Information

Where applicable and unless otherwise noted;

I inspected the accessible and visible structural components including the foundation and framing. Where accessible, I probed a representative number of structural components to check for deterioration.

What do you think of this idea?

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I attempted something similar a while back and half way through dropped the idea as too cumbersome and difficult reading for my clients.

I gave it up in favor of short and sweet.

I do have the requirement by the state to use check boxes under each heading indicating it was inspected, not inspected, not present, and/or deficient. I think the check boxes may do some of what you are after, then I switch to narrative.

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JL and I have a similar approach (first we're both "very fussy" HIs) and like Jim my comments are typically short/sweet.

I'm into "bullets" for my comments. Easy to ID, easy to read and I add narrative as necessary as there are no two properties the same.

Like Kurt M. I use a fair number of images. Kind of hard to create too much discussion when the image just shows what is there!

I've considered putting one of my reports up for review like Katen, but have not yet mustered the courage to do so. [;)]

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I don't see a problem stating what you inspected. I do it differently though - I describe the different components, even the ones not required by the ASHI SoP, e.g.:

  • There is an asphalt driveway. See Article 1S.02 for more information.

  • There are concrete walks. See Article 1S.16 for more information.
  • There is a block paver patio. See Article 2A.03 for more information.

The articles referred to are contained in Larry Reavis' The User-Friendly Home. I give each buyer a copy.

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Which of the following two do you think sounds better?

Where applicable and unless otherwise noted:

Where applicable, unless otherwise noted:

Why use either? Put everything in your boilerplate and when compiling the report, delete what doesn't apply to that particular house.

I inspected the accessible and visible vegetation, grading and surface drainage, and retaining walls that could likely have an adverse affect on the building. I inspected the adjacent entryway walkways patios, and driveways.

You may want to drop accessible and visible before vegetation. Other than roots, I can't imagine what vegetation that could have an impact on the building wouldn't be accessible and visible.

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The accessable and visible is intended to apply to everything but I could reword it like such.

I inspected the accessible and visible site components which could have an adverse affect on the building. These components include the vegetation, grading, surface drainage, retaining walls, entryway walkways, patios, and driveways.

I suppose I could drop the first part and edit as need like Joe suggests.

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I avoid stating specifically what I "did" inspect, which can invite argument regarding what I "didn't" inspect, relative to the SOPs. Instead, I have parsed the ASHI SOPs and use the individual sections as introductions to the sections of my report. The implication is that: unless otherwise reported, everything was inspected according to the SOPs.

Since I'm inspecting a lot of foreclosures now, I have added to my report the option to state that a certain item was tested and did function as intended, if I feel the client may wonder because the utilities had been off for a period of time.

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I don't see a problem stating what you inspected. I do it differently though - I describe the different components, even the ones not required by the ASHI SoP, e.g.:

  • There is an asphalt driveway. See Article 1S.02 for more information.

  • There are concrete walks. See Article 1S.16 for more information.
  • There is a block paver patio. See Article 2A.03 for more information.

The articles referred to are contained in Larry Reavis' The User-Friendly Home. I give each buyer a copy.

Sorry for the drift, but where do you get them, and how much?

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Here's another example. I understand how its not totally necessary but do you really think this would trip people up? It's to make sure they know what I looked at.

Exterior Information

Where applicable, unless otherwise noted:

I inspected the accessible and visible components of the exterior. These components include the siding, flashing, trim, exterior doors, attached or adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, handrails, guard rails, eaves, soffits and fascias.

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Here's another example. I understand how its not totally necessary but do you really think this would trip people up? It's to make sure they know what I looked at.

Exterior Information

Where applicable, unless otherwise noted:

I inspected the accessible and visible components of the exterior. These components include the siding, flashing, trim, exterior doors, attached or adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, handrails, guard rails, eaves, softs and fascias.

Just food for thought: You don't have to be a member of a national home inspection association to simply state, "this inspection was performed in complete compliance with the Standards of Practice of the prominent national home inspection associations.

Your statement seems fine.

Regarding "including" - especially when mentioning locations of defects or deficiencies, I tend to state: "including, but not limited to". Take care not to be the last word on the location or extent of defects or deficiencies, because you become the owner of anything not listed.

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My state licensing requires that we state items were inspected. Here is the boilerplate I use:

Wall cladding, flashings and trim were inspected. Eaves, soffits and fascias were inspected. The exterior was inspected for abnormal or harmful water penetration into the building and signs of abnormal or harmful condensation on building components. Exterior wood components were probed where deterioration was suspected. The entryway doors and a representative number of windows were operated and inspected. When present, garage door openers were inspected and operated. Decks, balconies, stoops, steps, areaways, porches, and applicable railings were inspected. Driveways, patios, walkways, and retaining walls were inspected. Vegetation, grading and drainage with respect to their effect on the condition of the building were inspected.

This is from a fellow home inspector I did a ridealong with last week:

We conduct a thorough visual examination of the readily accessible exterior components. We gently probe surfaces where visual inspection suggests damage. Vegetation, including trees, is examined only to the extent that it is effecting the structure.

Inspection Items

4.0 CLADDING, FLASHING, AND TRIM

Comments: Inspected

4.1 DOORS (Exterior)

Comments: Inspected

4.2 WINDOWS

Comments: Inspected

4.3 GARAGE DOOR(S)

Comments: Inspected

4.4 GARAGE DOOR OPERATORS

Comments: Inspected

4.5 WOOD DECKS, BALCONIES, STOOPS, STEPS, AREAWAYS, PORCHES, PATIO/ COVER AND APPLICABLE RAILINGS

Comments: Inspected

4.6 CONCRETE/ASPHALT DRIVES, WALKS, PATIO(S), AND STEPS

Comments: Inspected

Typical cracks were observed in the driveway.

4.7 VEGETATION

Comments: Inspected

4.8 EXTERIOR GRADING AND RETAINING WALLS

Comments: Inspected

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Exterior Information

Where applicable, unless otherwise noted:

I inspected the accessible and visible components of the exterior. These components include the siding, flashing, trim, exterior doors, attached or adjacent decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, handrails, guard rails, eaves, soffits and fascias.

Like Kurt, my clients just assume I inspected the whole building. There's no need to break it down. If you feel you have to do it for liability reasons, then throw it out. If you have to do it because of an SOP requirement, then do the minimum that you have to do and put it as far away from your list of defects as you can. This stuff makes my eyes bleed.

Chris, Oregon

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This stuff makes my eyes bleed.

Chris, Oregon

Your clients will always appreciate a report that is not a chore to read and decipher. Even though I do begin each section with the related SOPs, the print is small enough to make it clear that the reader can skip this reading if they are so inclined.

No matter what we write, our readers are usually reading with an agenda - to get to the meat of the matter. They're in glean mode. To assume clients read our reports like they would read a book is probably wishful thinking.

So, the goal might best be to write a report that is so to the point that the reader does not feel compelled to skip portions.

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