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What Type of Reporting Method Do You Use?


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One of the finest home inspectors in the country delivers his report on site.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Katen. . .

I dunno. If you're talking about me, that's not quite right. These days I nearly always deliver the report by email the next day. However, I did deliver onsite reports like clockwork for 15 years or so. Having lived both sides of the issue, I can tell you that the clients don't seem to care. A day later is no big deal to them.

It's a style choice. The idea that one way or the other is "more professional" is really quite silly.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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432 inspections last year and not one person wanted me to come back and "go over" anything. I do get the occasional email or phone call about something specific and most of the time its in the report they just failed to read it. I build the report on my laptop at the kitchen counter while i do the inspection. I insert the pics later and email that evening or the following morning. What works for some does not for others. You have to find what best works for your style. I don't think my way is the best and olny way it should be done its just the best way for me.

On another note the home inspection software folks just don't seem to be willing to get on the Mac train. All of the venders at Inspection World in Atlanta either say they are thinking about it or just say they aren't going there. They are all fast to say their software will work on a Mac but not native or either their out there in the cloud. They seem to think the windows based phone is the ticket. There was one group that had a decent application for doing 4-point and wind mitigation forms on either an iPhone or iPad. That was about as exciting as it got. Everything else was the same stuff i've been seeing for the last 12 years.

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Checklist for sure, Eric.

Electrical: Defective, get an electrician to fix it.

Plumbing: It's OK

Roof: It's got problems, get a roofer to fix it.

HVAC: It's OK, but needs some maintenance attention

Foundation: It's holding the house up

Exterior: Grass is growing on the lawn.

Easy to write on site: No waiting around for the report!

[:-monkeyd[:-monkeyd[:-monkeyd

I used to wonder why I wasn't getting calls, so I started using follow-up e-mails. Lots of responses saying thanks, no questions.

Can't remember the last call asking questions.

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On another note the home inspection software folks just don't seem to be willing to get on the Mac train. All of the venders at Inspection World in Atlanta either say they are thinking about it or just say they aren't going there.

There's no money in HI software for the Mac. There's almost no money in HI software, period. Think about the number of HI's, divide by what you think a modest market share is, then take approx. 8% of that number, and you'll see how few folks there are to sell to.

Everything else was the same stuff i've been seeing for the last 12 years.

Yes, it's the same old same old, and it will remain that way. When there are large numbers of people still handing out reports in 3 ring binders, or arguing about delivering on site vs. email, the differing State SOP requirements, or any of the other innane things folks in this biz disagree on, it can't change.

Then, there's the hegemony of the MS Office hairball. Folks seem unaware that there's other ways to think about software.

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And the statement about going home, reflect, write the report scares me. What do you do if you miss or forget to note something. It happens, it really does, unless you're perfect? I've forgot things. Am I incompetent? Should I leave this field? Some will say yes, but my desire to serve my customer to my best possible abilty will make me a better Home Inspector.

So tell me Eric, when you do go home and 'reflect' and realize you "forgot' or "mis-represented' something, what do you do?

Do you write a letter?

Do you call the client?

Do you say nothing?

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I kind of admire or is it a bit of jealousy for folks who complete their report on site. I would say that I have about 75% of the report done before I leave an inspection as I have input much of my findings while I'm at the home.

Who am I to say which method is better? On-site delivery of the report or delivery of the report a few hours after the inspection? In the end the client will have the report to make a more informed decision on the purchase of the home. The delivery method is kind of a moot point when you are only talking of a few hours or less difference.

Out of the thousands of inspections I have done I really can not recall any instance where the report was needed immediately after the inspection. I give a review of my findings to the client at the end of the inspection. I tell them that I will send the report in a few hours or less and everyone goes on the merry way.

I do agree that it would be nice to not have any homework, but I would then have more time on my hands to do more chores and honey dos! [;)]

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  • 4 months later...

Newbie to the forum and the home inspection business....

I came here looking for a deciding piece of information on "on site report delivery verses delivering the report from my office within 24hrs"

After reviewing the post I am leaning towards reporting from my office within 24hrs. Although my contact real estate agent stated "Making a name for yourself by delivering the report at the end of the inspection will be beneficial to your success."

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Newbie to the forum and the home inspection business....

I came here looking for a deciding piece of information on "on site report delivery verses delivering the report from my office within 24hrs"

After reviewing the post I am leaning towards reporting from my office within 24hrs. Although my contact real estate agent stated "Making a name for yourself by delivering the report at the end of the inspection will be beneficial to your success."

Kewl,

If a real estate agent started telling me what would be "beneficial" to my success, I'd probably respond with something like, "Thanks. Now, do you mind if I point out to you that if you were to take a commission of perhaps one to three percent less you'd probably have a lot more clients?"

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I've had to evaluate a few inspection software out there recently and the more I learn about report writing the more I learn that the best reports have more to do with inspecting ability, language skills and typing speed and less to do with choice of reporting software.

My typing speed is where I'm focusing much of my time now.

Someone wants me to train him, on day one at 8 am I sit him down with a computer in front of him with the browser at www.typingweb.com and have him practice that for an hour every am and another hour every pm.

Marc

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Thanks for the link Marc. I absolutely have to learn to type. I'm extremely fast with two fingers, but unfortunately, being extremely fast with two fingers doesn't cut it.

I try to get my reports emailed by the end of the day after the inspection. The past few days though, I'm so busy and backed up on reports, that it's been taking three days to get them out.

This has been quite an erratic year. So far, I've done more inspections the first 10 days in June than I did in the months of March and April combined. Now, after 10 days of being booked beyond my ability to handle it, my schedule is completely empty. Strange!

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Newbie to the forum and the home inspection business....

I came here looking for a deciding piece of information on "on site report delivery verses delivering the report from my office within 24hrs"

After reviewing the post I am leaning towards reporting from my office within 24hrs. Although my contact real estate agent stated "Making a name for yourself by delivering the report at the end of the inspection will be beneficial to your success."

I do not belive in delivering a report before I leave the property. I have never seen anyone in such a hurry for a report that they can't wait a few hours for it. Yes, I said a few hours.

Most home inspections are time sensitive in regards to what the client is being allowed under the sales contract. 5,7 or 10 days are the common time frames. Seems like most I deal with are in the 5 day time frame and I'm usually doing the inspection on the 4th day!

I do not do more than 2 inspections a day and I try to book only one a day until my time blocks are full.

During an inspection I have the bulk of the findings already input into my software before I leave the home. I setup in the kitchen and use it as my base. I return every now and then to put down my findings. Trust you brain, you don't have to write everything down when you find it! Then when I get back to the office it is a simple matter of uploading photos and tweaking the verbaige in the report.

I have my reports complete and emailed to my clients 2-4 hours after the inspection about 75% of the time.

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  • 6 months later...

warning slight thread drift...new to the business, realized early on that while I have experience in the trades, I will be a better inspector down the road if I can find someone to apprentice under. I now have a mentor who just called to tell me that the phone is ringing off the hook and we need to figure a way to get more of the report done on site.

So what do ya'll think about me bringing a small netbook, with report software on it, along with on the inspections. My thoughts are it will help me to learn the report writing software, while also allowing me to observe how to conduct inspections. In theory it will cut down on the amount of time my mentor will have to spend completing reports at night. Is this a good educational tool for me? Do you think it will actually help cut down the amount of time needed to complete reports at night?

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It will. I have been using a lap top on site for about 6 years now. If the house is vacant and I have time I will hang around and work on my report there.

Of course I still use photos and a few notes to help complete the report.

I NEVER finish the report onsite. It is emailed the same evening or next morning. I type around 60 wpm so I can get alot of information in the report template while on site instead of taking lots of notes. I only stop at the laptop 3 - 4 times. Then proofread and spell check when finished at the desk.

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How do you figure that it will take less time to enter the findings while onsite instead of at the office?

The client is served not just by the performance of the inspector in the field but also by his performance as a writer in the office. An entire set of skills can be involved in HI work, all of which can improve the product.

There are many on the forum who will argue but I wager that any report can be improved by simply re-reading and re-writing. It boils down to a balance between serving the client better or minding your pocketbook. We all have to draw that line. Some draw it at a minimal investment in writing the report (on-site written reports). Other draw it at 2, 3 even 4 hours of report writing/customizing/honing.

Where you draw that lines says something about you as an inspector.

My suggestion: 2 hours/day of typing lessons. It's not as hard as you think.

Marc

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It can be done. Walt Jowers used to write reports onsite with a partner; I've done it myself.

Key is deciding upfront who writes the report and who does the inspecting. The guy writing the report needs to detach himself from the inspection process and concentrate on organizing the input as it comes in from the guy doing the inspection and then putting the input into the report and customizing the content to the house. The other guy's task is to stay to the inspection sequence they've agreed upon so as not to jam up the guy who is writing the report.

I cut time down by using an FM intercom. That way I didn't have to wait for my partner to bring me the results, I could hear them and jot them down as my partner went through the house. He and I knew by heart the sequence that the report flowed. As he went around the house with the client he'd intentionally describe what he was seeing to the client. For example, he might say something like, "Well, I see you've got cedar clapboards and wood trim with this nice brick veneer on the front of the house," and I'd key that date into the exterior cladding section of the report program. Then he might say, "See this earth-to-wood contact over here at the northwest corner of this ground-level deck? This is a pest conducive condition," and then he'd go on to explain it to the client. Listening in, I'd key in an Earth-To-Wood Contact header and quickly write a comment about how the earth-to-wood contact between the underside of the deck and the ground was not a good thing and tell the client to get the grade adjusted.

Before we began, I would walk around and through the house to spot stuff that I knew he'd be talking about so I could get a jump on the report. If he stuck to sequence, I was able to keep up and sometimes I was able to even get ahead of him a little bit.

Key is to be able to type very fast and to keep your thoughts organized and the process in sequcnce so you aren't constantly going back through notes and going back to do report sections over again.

He was being mentored by me, so when he was finally able to solo I was able, via the headset, to know what he was seeing and know what he was saying to the client. If he stumbled or wasn't sure what to say, I was always there to correct him via my mic or tell him what to tell the cleint. He could hear me but the clients could not.

Then he decided he'd make more money fixing doors and windows on houses that are for sale than he would inspecting and he went off and pursued that business model. Now when inspectors write up windows and doors for something and realtors are looking for someone to fix those things so that the sale can move forward they call him.

Oh well, it worked great while it lasted.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I deliver my reports the next day, or if I'm done sooner, that evening. One thing I've learned here is that there are many successful ways to deliver a quality report. I let my clients know during booking that the report will come by email the next day to help manage their expectations. I have had no problems -yet.

When I gather information on site, I use a self-made checklist that jibes with my software. That way I know I won't miss anything and can write my report at home. As a newer inspector, I take 3 hours on site and 3 hours at home (sometimes even more). I go over the pictures, look in my books, and refer here. I do whatever it takes to get it right. I know that as I progress in this business the time I take to draft a report will improve. I also know that the future of my business relies on actions and habits made today. I read my completed report a time or two and then have my wife read it to be sure it makes sense to her.

I wish I had the confidence (perhaps experience) to write on site, but for me that extra step to reference my findings is invaluable.

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What is the question?

:)

Well, you completely missed the point of the thread. It's a poll. We're not interested in what brand of software you use. That's irrelevant to this thread. We wanted to know what type of reporting methods folks are using and figured the follow-on discussion would shake out the reasons why folks use one method over another.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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