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As the title says I am looking into changing my reporting software. I currently am looking at either Palm-Teck or Home Pro. Does anyone have any experience with either of these, the reason I like these is that the reports are a good combination of a checklist system that easily allow you to add notes. (in my opinion anyway). So what it will come down to is ease of use both on site, with a mobile device or tablet and people personal opinions.

I don't post often but follow the boards quite closely and know there is quite a bit of knowledge on here so any opinions or thoughts would be appreciated.

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My personal choice is: Whisper Reporter

There are many options and good applications out there to consider, take for test drives and see which one works best for you.

Most of the good applications leave it up to you (the inspector) to develop your own comments, prepared text, etc., etc.. But you already know that.

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As the title says I am looking into changing my reporting software. I currently am looking at either Palm-Teck or Home Pro. Does anyone have any experience with either of these, the reason I like these is that the reports are a good combination of a checklist system that easily allow you to add notes. (in my opinion anyway). So what it will come down to is ease of use both on site, with a mobile device or tablet and people personal opinions.

I don't post often but follow the boards quite closely and know there is quite a bit of knowledge on here so any opinions or thoughts would be appreciated.

Not to pick on you, but I ask because I'm really curious. Are there any inspection software systems out there that *don't* offer a checklist version that easily allows you to add notes?

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Jim, I'm not sure to tell you the truth, I've mostly looked at some sample reports. I've noticed some focus on a narrative or general description rather than the actual condition of the house, I know on the report that was done for my house each component included a vague description "the roof material is vital as it keeps water from penetrating your house" I find it muddles the report and creates many more pages and much more reading than required.

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The software should be a skeleton that does the the computer programming for you, let's you arrange the skeleton to suit yourself and then YOU add the commentary as you see fit.

I switched from Palm-Tech to HomeGauge several years ago..

BUT, expect all of them to have crap commentary the one one you have above.

Whichever you buy, make it your own.

Most offer a free trial version. Download them, play with them and then decide.

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I find it muddles the report and creates many more pages and much more reading than required.

Good observation. Too much boilerplate will do that, regardless of which software you choose.

To my knowledge, no one has ever evaluated all major available brands of home inspection software and reported on them. We'd need evaluation criteria, a method of measurement, before that could be done.

Marc

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Hi,

Inspect Express by our sponsors, DevWave, does what you want and works off a handheld thingy also. It's ideal for the non-techie. The boilerplate comments are easily edited with s simple right click and then saved. There's a selection button in there when you set it up that allows you to use it in full-narrative mode or in semi-checklist mode.

I agree with what you say about the fluff. IE has some of that too. You won't like some of the boilerplate. There's fluff comments in there as well as passive inspector speak that drives me nuts that I'd never use.

Still, just about everyone tailors boilerplate to their own taste anyway and the engine is user intuitive, easy to learn, and once you get used to it you can edit boilerplate on the fly and just keep on adding and customizing it to your heart's content.

Download their trial software and give it a shot.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thanks for the replies, they all sound quite similar in that if you do the work on the back end it will make a customized report for you.

I'm doing on on Home Pro today using their demo version, will let everyone know how it compares to Palm Teck.

I have to admit that while technology doesn't make me cringe its not my favourite thing in the world, the general feeling I get is that windows based systems are better than android so now I've also got to decide between using my phone and an app and getting a windows based tablet and running everything off that.

Erby, just wondering why you switched from Palm-Teck it seems to be one of the industry leaders.

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I wouldn't want to rely on a tablet that might just go black screen in the middle of a job. Or blue screen or whatever. I know we are heading that way but not for me not yet.

I used to use Palm Pilots for forestry and learned to despise them, so I am biased, I guess.

A laptop plugged in to a wall outlet, yes, I can work with that. [:)]

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I second Nolan and suggest Whisper Reporter. You can download the full version and play with it. It's going to seem overwhelming at first, but the salesmen Larry has about the best customer service out there and will literally help you every step of the way. Sounds like a plug I know, but if you learn the program it's quite nice.

I'm using Whisper reporter with my Asus Eee Slate EP121 and it's amazing! It's a FULL PC with touch capabilities that uses Windows 7 and a CORE I5 processor. One of the best features is the 18 second start up. The stylus is the best on the market the handwriting recognition is awesome. The screen is made of Corning Gorilla Glass and is virtually indestructible. Prices are down to the $900 range because of Microsoft releasing the Windows 8 computers that are more "touch" friendly.

All in all find what's best for you. Most reporting software has free trial downloads. I would never consider a software that I could't try before I buy.

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  • 4 months later...

So a quick update/review if anyone is interested.

I tried Homeguage, it seems great, easy to use, very intuitive, a few different ways to organize the report. I imagine once you get familiar with it and can play around with it it gets even easier and better, but pretty impressive right out of the box. One thing I would change is that you check inspected or not, there is no box to allow you to report on the condition, good, marginal, defective etc. However this might be able to be changed I havn't played around much with the software. Other thing I did not like was after doing an inspection I found out you can't save as a PDF to send to a client with the trial version, live and learn I guess.

I also tried Home Inspector Pro, it looks easy to use and has some good features, mainly the ability to add comments very quickly, however I still havn't been able to figure out how to edit the comments so I have not completed an entire report yet. Also it seems odd that pictures must be added in a separate section of the software, as opposed to adding them as you write of each component of the house like most software allows you to do.

I'm trying to get Inspect Express but having some troubles getting the trial software off their website, will update once I get a chance to use it. It seems that the user reviews are right up there with Homeguage though and everyone seems to like it.

The more I look into different software I am starting to realize there is no perfect software that will write the report for you, someone should work on that.

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HomeGauge lets you easily change the titles of those boxes, the name and order of the sections, the names and order of items within the sections, easily exclude or include sections either one time or always.

All the trial versions are somewhat feature limited, but it's been so long since I've tried the trial I don't remember which. I know that the HomeGauge full version lets you print to PDF and either e-mail it or upload it to your file servers at HomeGauge. I choose to upload it as HTML and use the HomeGauge report delivery and filing system.

I open up my picture film strip and just go down the strip writing the comments and placing the pictures as I go down. The order I take the pictures dictates the order of the report writing as I choose to do it. Though you get to choose your own method, it's easier to flip around the report sections than to run up and down the film strip trying to find the picture you want. When I'm done with the film strip, I'm pretty much done with the report.

All of them have sucky narrative. Easier to write your own in your own writing style.

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I'm like Erby, I downloaded a bunch of the free trial ones three years ago, went with HomeGuage. Delete all their wording, easy to create your own. I like how easy it is to put drop-down selections in sentences so you can make one sentence fit a lot of things such as a "Room" drop-down to choose which room you are talking about or a "Fixture" drop-down to choose which bath fixture you are referencing. Easy to make the report look like whatever you want, easy to add text and markers to photos. I use a camera with an SD card, just take the SD card from the camera, plug it into the laptop, tell the HomeGuage where the pictures are and it loads them all into a strip. Write or plug-in a pre-made sentence that you have created, and then double click a picture - done, go to the next one. Instead of making notes, I just take pictures, so as I run through the picture strip, I have all I need to complete the report. Save the completed file as a PDF and either print on site or e-mail. I haven't used the HomeGuage site for delivery.

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HG also does an outstanding job with support, has it's own forum for users to help each other, can be brought to a new computer in a minute, with all of your boiler and templates, and allows you to use video in the report.

It also has great online tutorials to get you started.

And, if you need some amusment during down time, the spell check is absolutely hilarious. My one and only complaint.

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Erby:

Your sample reports are the only HomeGauge reports I've seen that didn't have the HG logo prominently displayed on them. I assumed that was something that couldn't be changed, so for that reason, I didn't even consider HG when report software shopping a few years ago.

I decided to go with Inspect Express. I bought it nearly two years ago, but the task of setting it up, and also replacing the boilerplate with my own seemed so herculean a job, that I haven't done much beyond installing it and playing around with it a bit.

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Joe,

You can take those logos out in a click and ad your own in the same amount of time. Mine is set up similar to Erby's style and automatically drops a small GTB logo before any comment on a defect. I did it to draw attention to the comment and to make the report easier to follow.

I hope the IE guys take this the right way!

I had a very frustrating time with the trial. I played with it for more than a week and just couldn't make it work before I finally gave up on it. Probably something I was missing.

Erby, that's a great looking website.

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I decided to go with Inspect Express. I bought it nearly two years ago, but the task of setting it up, and also replacing the boilerplate with my own seemed so herculean a job, that I haven't done much beyond installing it and playing around with it a bit.

I use IE; Mike Brown and Rose Baldwin have always been there to answer questions. Even though they're Canadian, I usually understand the answers.

I've been using IE for so long that my comments have replaced the stock comments but I had to do it on the fly. The one improvement that would be truly awesome is to make the comment library available as a whole so I could start at one end and work toward the other.

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Anybody that uses most of the stock comments with any software probably oughta do a REALLY good job of proofreading to make sure the comments are really saying what they want. Most don't.

Joe: Almost all the software guys want their logo someplace. HomeGauge let me replace all but the "prepared using HomeGauge software" someplace in small print way down at the end.

Gary: Thanks. One of these days I need to update it a bit though.

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Erby:

Your sample reports are the only HomeGauge reports I've seen that didn't have the HG logo prominently displayed on them. I assumed that was something that couldn't be changed, so for that reason, I didn't even consider HG when report software shopping a few years ago.

I decided to go with Inspect Express. I bought it nearly two years ago, but the task of setting it up, and also replacing the boilerplate with my own seemed so herculean a job, that I haven't done much beyond installing it and playing around with it a bit.

Hi Joe,

In Version 4 on the Database menu is an option for "Bulk Edit Data Comments" with the description "Extract all the comments to document for editing." (in V3 it was called data dump)

You can write all of the observations to a document edit the whole thing to make it your own and then suck them back into the database with the click of a button. Everyone writes different, you have to make it your own.

The dropdowns for the descriptions have more options than you will need for your areas... you can just right click them and delete the entries you are not going to use (much faster than writing them).

We also answer our phone, email and you can even send us your report if you want some tips.

Michael Brown

1-888-739-4033

inspectexpress.com

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Joe,

You can take those logos out in a click and ad your own in the same amount of time. Mine is set up similar to Erby's style and automatically drops a small GTB logo before any comment on a defect. I did it to draw attention to the comment and to make the report easier to follow.

I hope the IE guys take this the right way!

I had a very frustrating time with the trial. I played with it for more than a week and just couldn't make it work before I finally gave up on it. Probably something I was missing.

Erby, that's a great looking website.

Yes Inspext Express runs inside MS Word so getting going maybe a little more trouble at first (free support tho). We still get emails... I opened your software and it just opened a blank Word document... they don't notice the toolbar tab right away. Also if we wrote dumbed down software it would have no features and not be customizable. We have a bigger learning curve because of these things. We have all of our features and all of MS Words features... no other software has that kind of flexability.

We would sell more to new inspectors if it had no features, we sell more software to older inspectors that really look at the software and final output closely before buying. Inspect Express has automation features that make doing a high volume of inspections easy and fast by being able to set defaults and edit data on the fly. For an inspector only doing 5 inspections a month our software may not be the best choice. Our software doesn't write a checklist either like HG or Whisper with NI/NP/NR and legend etc., it's narrative software. Honestly if you are going to write a checklist report with software... you should just use a pen and paper form as it's faster (like the Texas archaic report format LOL).

We think our software is a great fit for some but not all. There are only a couple of good inspection programs on the market and a ton of junk out there. You need to find software that fits your style... and after this many years I can say everyone has their own. Trouble is that most of the junk is easy to learn as it has no features... what ever you use make sure the vendor has a phone number and don't be afraid to use it.

Michael

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