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Report Critique number 2. OK, let me have it!!!


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Just got back to my computer and re-read what I put here.

Jeez, it sounds really really harsh. I just turned 61 and I think I'm becoming even more of a curmudgeon than my Dad had been at my age.

For that I apologize; please understand I wasn't trying to denigrate you or be critical of your hard work - you obviously have skills because that's a thorough report and I can't argue much with anything you've told them - it's just that reports seem to set me off sometimes. I am trying to help - as is everyone else above.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Brent,

If these guys did not like you, they would be really nasty! Everything posted is valid and valuable. Mike O is a great teacher and very dedicated to this business!

PS: At his age I know you can take him in a leg wrestling match!

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The large problems confusing the pursuit of excellent reports are:

1) developers of report systems are unaware, and largely dismissive of, communication science.

2) writers of boilerplate within those systems do not practice known elements of effective technical writing.

It makes it hard to get it right.

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The perfect or excellent report is the one your client can understand and fulfills their expectations, as defined by the reporter. The best we inspectors can hope for is meeting that standard.

I have been all over the board with report writing and styles and read hundreds of other reports. I have devolved to simple. I don't get into how to fix something in an ordinary inspection. I don't think I have ever referred my client to a locksmith to change a lock.

I have told hundreds of clients that not fixing something will result in their croaking, yet can't recall the last time I made a big deal about handrails (tripping, scraping your nails along a lead based paint wall, then wiping the blood off with lead contaminated fingers in a basement full of radon that has vinyl asbestos tile and a federal pacific panel)

Know your client and what they expect and sometimes that is page after page and sometimes it is couple pages of opinion. There is an inverse relationship between confidence and boilerplate. My opinion.

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There is an inverse relationship between confidence and boilerplate.

Absolutely. The more verbiage, the less one knows what they're talking about.

It continues to amaze me that anyone would write all the crap that gets written about what are, at base, extremely simple things.

I wanna hear more about the old house covered in lead paint with radon in the basement and glass shower doors, stairs without handrails, Stablok breaker panel with a Zinsco sub panel, the garage door opener lacking safety return mechanisms, windows in the stairwell, decks without railings, and counters too close to the range burners.

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This is one of my favorites from the 3D boilerplate comments:

Satisfactory - The power panel, as a container for safely covering electrical circuitry and components, is functioning as intended, minimizing the risk of electrical shock.

Huh??

We need to find the author and exterminate it before it reproduces.
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I've used 3d since I started this gig. Started my first home inspection on my own house. Halfway thru it, I stopped and deleted all pre-packaged boilerplate then spent the next 7 days crafting my own, dawn to dusk.

My next software won't be any off-the-shelf HI inspection software currently on the market. I've checked the features of MS Publisher, Word, Filemaker, a few other desktop publishers and now Adobe InDesign.

Our industry's still in in it's infancy is my conclusion.

Marc

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Do people really need to know "how to read the report?".

If they do, then the author has failed miserably at their job.

Roy, no offense intended. You did ask for feedback from your peers, which is a daring and noble thing. Sadly, far too few of us do it. You're to be congratulated.

Like others, I completely ditched all the canned boilerplate.

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Boilerplate basically sucks. I've found that by the time I find the applicable comment, insert and edit it to fit the situation accurately, I can type;

Here's the problem. Here's why it's a problem. Have a qualified contractor fix it.

I save the lengthy, well-thought write-ups so I don't have to do it over every time. I've 23 pages of it on a Word file and probably refer to it a couple dozen times for each report. It's tweaked/updated/improved with most every use. This one below is always accompanied by a photo or two:

Missed staples evince a stapled roof deck. Staples are but thin wires. They're the worse fastener you can use to secure the roof deck on a house that's in a hurricane-prone coastal area. After the first roof panel is lost, the attic becomes either pressurized or depressurize, depending on the wind direction, and additional panel failures follow like dominoes.

Re-secure all roof panels to the framing during the next roof finish replacement interval by driving 8d galvanized ring shank nails on 6" centers as per the Fortified Builder's Guide available at 64.16.194.32/content/data/file/FFSL_BuildersGuide_2008_Rebranded_2011.pdf

Marc

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Like others, I completely ditched all the canned boilerplate.

Lock in the "application" (IE: software) that works for you and as most everyone has noted develop your own comments. There are many good products available ... but certainly NOT for their 'canned comments'.

Each of us have our 'preferred' applications to use for report generation ... and that software is just a 'tool'. The craft in our profession is putting the words and images together for the education of our clients.

Roy - I'm learning a lot from everyone here at TIJ and especially on this thread asking for reviews. I applaud you for stepping out asking for the review. It is a mark of a good man.

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A couple of things. I wouldn't include the price of the inspection in the report if you're sending it to attorneys and realtors. You'll get feedback like: wow, you charge a lot compared to the other guys...

What do you mean by recommending obtaining a termite certificate. Do you mean a WDI Report? NPMA33?

Yes WDI would be better, I include that in all reports since I don't offer WDI's, haven't read it in detail in a while.

How do you (and other), supply your customers with invoices? I can't send it prior to inspection?

BTW, I'm sure the realtor and attorney are charging more than me!

Thanks for your reply!

Roy,

Once I get the verbal OK from the client I have to make arrangements with the local CSS (Centralized Showing Service) to officially book the inspection/ time/date. The CSS folks then communicate such to the listing agent/seller/tenant and send me an e-mail of such 'approval'. When I get that doc I then send an e-mail to my client advising of such and attach two PDF files (one is the Inspection Agreement and the other is the Invoice). I also bring copies of those docs along with me to the inspection.

I usually get the signature page back via e-mail or the client will sign at the inspection.

There are some more docs I may send depending upon status of home to be inspected: IE: vacant and no utilities, etc..

I seldom see/talk with the listing agent ... occasionally the buyer's agent shows up, but not too often.

Enough of my 'admin-is-trivia' ... back to "review" at hand.

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Boilerplate basically sucks. I've found that by the time I find the applicable comment, insert and edit it to fit the situation accurately, I can type;

Here's the problem. Here's why it's a problem. Have a qualified contractor fix it.

I save the lengthy, well-thought write-ups so I don't have to do it over every time. I've 23 pages of it on a Word file and probably refer to it a couple dozen times for each report. It's tweaked/updated/improved with most every use. This one below is always accompanied by a photo or two:

Missed staples evince a stapled roof deck. Staples are but thin wires. They're the worse fastener you can use to secure the roof deck on a house that's in a hurricane-prone coastal area. After the first roof panel is lost, the attic becomes either pressurized or depressurize, depending on the wind direction, and additional panel failures follow like dominoes.

Re-secure all roof panels to the framing during the next roof finish replacement interval by driving 8d galvanized ring shank nails on 6" centers as per the Fortified Builder's Guide available at 64.16.194.32/content/data/file/FFSL_BuildersGuide_2008_Rebranded_2011.pdf

Marc

Agreed. I have maybe a dozen of these lengthy ones. I might use one on every other report.

On most of the common stuff, three shorter sentences and I'm moving to the next. I'm at least 80% on the fly custom narrative. Rarely more than 20% boiler in any report. Any boiler that I do use was written by me.

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  • 1 month later...

In my opinion the report sucks. It was to painfull to read thorough it all. To much inspector talk and information that most home buyers and Realtors don't want to read about.

I would look at switching to a better software program. Also try to keep comments short and descriptive. Report writing is a craft in itself. I am always looking at ways to improve and come up with new ideas. One thing that has helped me it to list location of the problem at the beginning or end of the comment. This helps keep things more clear and concise, and makes it easier to write reports.

I am not trying to be harsh, just want to give you some honest advise. I look back at some of my first reports and I laugh at how poorly they were written. Try to stay away from all the canned comments that software programs have. Come up with your own comments, keep it short and to the point. Stay away from rudunadant comments such as "Recommend furhter evalaution by a qualifed contrator" use only when necessary.

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In my opinion the report sucks. It was to painfull to read thorough it all. To much inspector talk and information that most home buyers and Realtors don't want to read about.

I would look at switching to a better software program. Also try to keep comments short and descriptive. Report writing is a craft in itself. I am always looking at ways to improve and come up with new ideas. One thing that has helped me it to list location of the problem at the beginning or end of the comment. This helps keep things more clear and concise, and makes it easier to write reports.

I am not trying to be harsh, just want to give you some honest advise. I look back at some of my first reports and I laugh at how poorly they were written. Try to stay away from all the canned comments that software programs have. Come up with your own comments, keep it short and to the point. Stay away from rudunadant comments such as "Recommend furhter evalaution by a qualifed contrator" use only when necessary.

Good advice,

Here's some for you. Spell check. It's a wonderful thing.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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