Jump to content

How long to write reports?


Recommended Posts

I have been using Inspect-Express for several years now and I have to say I’m happy with it. I think I’ve tweaked it well (boiler plates, custom templates, Mail-Merge contact info in word, Auto-Text when needed ect.) for speed however, I still spend roughly 4-5 hours average writing my narrative reports for single family homes (I write all reports back at my office after the inspection).

I include serial & model numbers for major mechanical items, date them and include hyperlinks to manufactures websites (information, on-line manuals). I also include 10-20…30, photos if needed (each resized for PDF delivery of 800x600 and annotated in Photoshop). I include a summary which highlights the major findings, safety issues and recommendations found in the individual sections of the main report. I then number all the finding (thanks john Dirks, it does make it easier when various parties are discussing the report over the phone), create a PDF from word (a great option when using Acrobat as it creates bookmarks in the PDF for ease of navigation) and include the 800x600 photos as attachments.

I then combine the PDF report with a PDF home warranty (if applicable), password secure the resulting report in Acrobat so no one can change what I write and ftp a copy to my web server. I do this because some web email clients do not support attachment over 5MB (rare but reports with over 20-25 full sized photos can approach 5-6MB. Also, after a year I file the reports on a DVD, if a clients calls regarding an inspection over a year old I just type the report number into my browser address bar ((password protected of course)) and I have it. I also like having multiple copies). I then send out an email with the report attached.

I like my reports an my clients seem to as well! Problem is at 4-5 hours each it’s almost impossible to do multiple inspections in a day.

My question is, how are other inspectors preparing their reports and how much time do you typically spend writing them? Narrative or checkbox? PDF delivery?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 68
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I have been using Inspect-Express for several years now and I have to say I’m happy with it. I think I’ve tweaked it well (boiler plates, custom templates, Mail-Merge contact info in word, Auto-Text when needed ect.) for speed however, I still spend roughly 4-5 hours average writing my narrative reports for single family homes (I write all reports back at my office after the inspection).

I include serial & model numbers for major mechanical items, date them and include hyperlinks to manufactures websites (information, on-line manuals). I also include 10-20…30, photos if needed (each resized for PDF delivery of 800x600 and annotated in Photoshop). I include a summary which highlights the major findings, safety issues and recommendations found in the individual sections of the main report. I then number all the finding (thanks john Dirks, it does make it easier when various parties are discussing the report over the phone), create a PDF from word (a great option when using Acrobat as it creates bookmarks in the PDF for ease of navigation) and include the 800x600 photos as attachments.

I then combine the PDF report with a PDF home warranty (if applicable), password secure the resulting report in Acrobat so no one can change what I write and ftp a copy to my web server. I do this because some web email clients do not support attachment over 5MB (rare but reports with over 20-25 full sized photos can approach 5-6MB. Also, after a year I file the reports on a DVD, if a clients calls regarding an inspection over a year old I just type the report number into my browser address bar ((password protected of course)) and I have it. I also like having multiple copies). I then send out an email with the report attached.

I like my reports an my clients seem to as well! Problem is at 4-5 hours each it’s almost impossible to do multiple inspections in a day.

My question is, how are other inspectors preparing their reports and how much time do you typically spend writing them? Narrative or checkbox? PDF delivery?

I think you provide a great report (from your description at least). I think it would take as long as you say to do such. I'm guessing you find it hard, though, to charge accordingly or you might not be posting such a question - just a guess; no mal-intent meant. If I was going to provide such a thorough report, I'd certainly charge accordingly though, and good for you if you already do.

I don't do all the *frill* stuff; manufacturer's websites, serial numbers, not as many photos, etc. But I do most all else you describe, and it takes me 2-2.5 hours for an average report.

All that said, I can type pretty dang well; a high school course I truly enjoyed. Would brushing up on typing help?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do almost the same routine minus serial numbers, hyperlinks, and such.

I'm at about 2-3 hours. That's about 50% more time than what it used to take me. I think it's because I write more stuff than before, plus inserting photos and adding arrows and such.

I can no longer do 2 inspections a day what with a family and a life outside of inspection work.

I think it's too much time and I'm searching for ways to cut down the work load. On the table right now is hiring an assistant who can write and type well to do the reports for me. I figure to take that workload from me would easily free me up to do at least 1-2 more jobs a week to pay for her.

Edit: I don't know Inspect-Express that well but I know MS Word ok. It seems like there'd be an easy way to format your findings with the numbers already included. Check out the Style options in the Formatting toolbar and define your text using the "Bullets and Numbering" options.

Link to post
Share on other sites

On a normal 3/2 home with few problems I can have the report completed and emailed in about thirty minutes. This includes uploading a few photos.

On a normal 3/2 home with a bunch of problems I can usually have the report emailed in about forty five minutes.

I feel that I can complete a report in an hour or less on most average size homes I inspect.

I just completed a report on a large (6,000sf) with 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths with a good number of problems and a few that were kind of involved. It took me a little under two hours to complete the report and email it out.

How do I do my reporting in this amount of time?

For starters I input the problems I find in my program while I'm at the inspection. Right now I use a PDA for the small homes and a netbook for the larger homes; I then sync to my main computer at the office and upload photos and finish the detail information on the report.

I do not include links and I do not copy or include the serial numbers of the systems in the home. I have never really understood why folks do this anyway. It is time consuming......

My reports do not have fluff or fodder.

I inspect by systems (Roof, Plumbing, HVAC, Kitchen, Bathrooms, Interior, Exterior, Foundation, etc...) I report what I find, and what needs to be done.

I only include photos of the problems.

I use 3D for my reporting software. It is a narrative type report and I send it out in a PDF or if the file is too large for my client I can upload to my website for them to view and download as they need.

Most of my files are under 1Meg. The large home I just did was 1.2 Megs and it was 28 pages in length with a 4 page summary. On reason that the Inspect Express files are so large is that it is WORD based.

I have been doing it this way for about 10 years and it works pretty darn well for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Roy's description pretty much describes my own process except for different software (3d), no home warranty and Adobe Acrobat allows me to include 20-60 photos without exceeding a 1 MB size for the report. That allows the report to be Emailed. Adobe also preserves hyperlinks in pdf formats.

Desk time is 90 minutes to 4 hrs, average. I've always thought it to be too much time but I won't delete features from my reports. I'm up to 10 WPM on an online typing course that I just started, using 9 digits. Prior to that, I used 4 digits for about 40 WPM. I'd like to hit 60-75 WPM.

Marc

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty much in Scott's camp - HomeGauge here.

I also input the lion's share of my observations on a PDA, out in the field, and sync to my desktop later.

Like Scott, I inspect and report by system and my report is pretty comprehensive (both check-box and narrative which meets complies strictly with ASHI SOPs). Major defects and deficiencies; safety concerns; industry wide materials defect concerns; noticeable cosmetic defects or deficiencies that a client might question; and grand-fathered sub-standard installations are all noted.

These days, with the advent of software, I'm averaging about four hours (+/-) per inspection (about 2 - 2.5 hours on site and another 1.5 - 2 hours in the office). I'm still very much in the trial and error phase of HomeGauge and am fully confident that I'll eventually trim about 45 minutes of the process.

I don't include model or serial numbers in my report, but I DO photograph such info for my own records.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As for serial & model numbers I see a valid reason to include them.

I did an inspection a few years back where the original homeowner had switched out a newer furnace and replaced it with an older unit after the inspection, right before moving. I think having that information saved me when the client called me back to the property because her heat wasn’t working properly. Also, I like to match compressor/coil for proper sizing and date everything I can.

I like to think my reports are always improving. When all said and done the clients are ONLY left with what I've said. I keep a folder on my computer of reports that I acquirer on a day to day basis, some from clients, others from inspectors web sites an some from agents to name a few. Some are good and some are not in my opinion.

A women showed me a report she had received from a well known nationwide franchise recently from a property she had purchased. Roughly 30 pages that included a "Hot Tube section an a Garage section" neither existed at the residence. Personal service, I think not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Scott, thanks for your input. Like most I have tried most of the popular software available and can say that Inspect-Express's BEST feature is that it works in Word, the world’s best word-processor (and I'm use a Mac and generally hate Microsoft, but I'll give them that… Ha). However, once Acrobat “printsâ€

Link to post
Share on other sites

As for serial & model numbers I see a valid reason to include them.

I did an inspection a few years back where the original homeowner had switched out a newer furnace and replaced it with an older unit after the inspection, right before moving. I think having that information saved me when the client called me back to the property because her heat wasn’t working properly.

What was the reason you included such info before that incident?

Wouldn't simply noting the age of the furnace in the report serve the same purpose?

You seem to be more than satisfied with your product, so not sure just what you're trying to glean from others here. My only suggestion, after checking the fees on your website, is to double or triple your fees.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Roy, wouldn't a photograph accomplish the same thing as a serial number in identifying the component?

That's an inordinate amount of time for one report. Links to appliance owner's manuals are great, but a homeowner just as easily could Google General Electric.

I've never understood creating a long summary. On your sample report, a missing window screen is part of the summary!

I use a PDA and 3D and spend about 1 1/2 hours for a report, which I think is still too long, even after changing and streamlining all the boiler plate comments.

You're right about the reports from franchises, like P2P. Pages and pages of check boxes that aren't filled out, because the item doen't exist at the house. Confusing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HomeGauge here. System by System report (Though I follow walls during the inspection) 45 min to an hour for the report. Most problems input on sight. LOTS of photos (typically 100 or so) though not all go in report. Serial numbers etc are photo but not in report. Use for age determination. Camera functions as my digital notepad. Pictures and hand signs better than written notes as my handwriting sucks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HomeGauge here. System by System report (Though I follow walls during the inspection)

Erby raises a time tested method. If you don't flow through a house - systematically walking all wall lengths, you'll end up walking all over the home a bunch of times, which just isn't efficient use of your time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry, if I didn't have the serial number from the furnace at the time of the original inspection I wouldn't have been able cross reference the numbers. When the client an I looked at the numbers from my report, we both immediately realized what most likely happened.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As for charging accordingly, I have been trying to do that for a while…It’s hard, especially in tough economic times. Price is the number one factor in so many people’s decision!

I know who’s on the list of “recommended inspectorsâ€

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use 3D and my typical report time is between 1-1.5 hours on a fairly clean house, and typically a bit more for a home with a lot of issues. I use the narrative format from 3D and am pretty satisfied with it. With the exception of the front page pic, I include pics of items that are in need of repair. I have gone back and forth with the serial/model # input on reports. When I was using Recallchek, I had to input the model and serial # which took more time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HomeGauge here. System by System report (Though I follow walls during the inspection) 45 min to an hour for the report. Most problems input on sight. LOTS of photos (typically 100 or so) though not all go in report. Serial numbers etc are photo but not in report. Use for age determination. Camera functions as my digital notepad. Pictures and hand signs better than written notes as my handwriting sucks.

Same here except for the template and the time. Did one in two and a half hours once. Scared me so bad, I spent another hour reviewing it before I launched it. Then again, I'm a third year apprentice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have liked 3D and have been on it for about 10 years. I use a laptop but typically do not finish the report on site. I do get a good bit of info entered, mainly the problem areas. Then finish the more general items at the desk and put pictures, captions and arrows in. I would guess about an hour to hour an half of report time. More on tough houses.

I did the mod/ser numbers back when I first started and dropped it after a year or so. No one said anything about it and I sure didn't miss it.

I still include brand, BTU, and mfg date on HVAC equip and water heater. That and a picture should cover any switcheroo. I've only heard of units getting stolen and that's just been in the past few years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Today: a 13,500 square foot elementary school built in 1917.

My time spent during inspection preparing the report = 0 minutes.

My time spent dictating the report after the inspection = 35 minutes.

My time reviewing after a professional typist prepared the report = maybe 20 minutes.

Final result: a custom narrative report with perfect spelling, proper grammar and no canned BS comments.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Today: a 13,500 square foot elementary school built in 1917.

My time spent during inspection preparing the report = 0 minutes.

My time spent dictating the report after the inspection = 35 minutes.

My time reviewing after a professional typist prepared the report = maybe 20 minutes.

Final result: a custom narrative report with perfect spelling, proper grammar and no canned BS comments.

FOUL! (You lucky dog...) [^]

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill Kibbel...

...I've spent some time with Pete Wilden, he NJ mentored me a couple of times and I see him occasionally at ASHI meetings (way back in 2005 when Pete was treasurer). I think Pete had more influence on me than anyone!

Good too her from old Tri-State ASHI, David & Dee, and everyone else enrolled!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't say exactly how long it takes me to do a report since I've never sat down and done one from start to finish without stopping - often stopping several times. An educated guess would be (if I didn't stop), 3-3.5 hours for an average sized house in average condition. That's way too much, but not only haven't I been able to reduce it, but it's been growing.

The main time consumer is adding pictures. I know I take and include way too many, but the number is slowly increasing, not decreasing. In addition to pictures of major and safety problems, I usually include pictures of most minor problems. I also include pictures of places the buyer won't see first-hand, such as the roof, attic and crawl spaces. One upside to including so many pictures is that I get very few calls after the inspection requesting clarification. I doubt if I get more than one call in 20 inspections.

I have an very archaic and time consuming method of adding pictures. I download them to the 'My Picture' file, go through them, culling out any unneeded duplicates, lighten or darken a few that might need it and annotate a very few that might benefit from it. Then I go through them again, writing down a description and the picture number. Then, when I insert them into the report, I cross them off the list. Yes, I know it's extremely inefficient, bit I'm comfortable with it and I'm confident that nothing will be forgotten. I attached a PDF of a photo worksheet if anyone is in need of a laugh.

Download Attachment: icon_adobe.gif Chickenscratch.pdf

82.05 KB

To collect data at the inspection I use a voice recorder and pictures. I download the voice notes to the computer and play it back though medical transcription software, controlling it with a foot pedal. I type about as fast as you can using two fingers. I'm working on changing that.

My software is Inspectvue, but not for long. I bought Inspect Express a month ago, but haven't done anything with it yet, other than downloading it. I really do need to stop procrastinating and jump headfirst into that project.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...