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Digital pictures in report


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Lately I have been asked if I put pictures in reports. As I do not I am considering buying camera and the report I use is 3D. My laptop is a Tosheba pentium 4. Any suggestions on camera to use and how much extra time and trouble involved. Do you charge extra for report with pictures? In the past I have been telling them I am a home inspector and not a photographer. Maybe I am wrong and behind the times.

Thanks for any suggestions,

Paul Burrell

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Hi Paul,

I started using pictures not long after I started inspecting. It does consume some time, but, I think that it helps people "see" what I am trying to tell them. I know some people state that my writing skills should be able to paint the perfect picture and photos are unnecessary, but, I think it has enhanced my reports. I write alot of reports as a Fire captain/paramedic and I feel I can "paint" a picture with words to describe what I see. I just think the clients like to see the pictures.

I don't charge extra for this feature of my report.

Just my two cents worth.

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Paul:

I use a Nikon Cool Pix. Pretty much bullet proof.

3D makes it so easy to import pictures plus it really helps with the reports. I take pictures of defects that are important to note or say, an attic that was full or stored goods that I couldn't get into. I've been using pocket 3D now for some time so the pictures help me remember key items as well (as you know it's almost impossible to type on a PDA). I take a picture of the home for a nice cover page. I've used the 3D report a lot in my marketing too, clients like the fact that there are pictures in the report.

No extra charge for pictures in the report, takes no time to import into 3D and they help protect me as well.

Hope this helps.

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I take lots of pictures. I use them to explain things to the customer or anyone else standing around; they are very effective. I don't put them in my report. I type fast & accurately, & I can easily describe conditions, locations, & cures in a couple simple sentences in a tenth of the time it takes to fiddle around importing pictures.

Folks say that they don't take anytime to import. Well, that simply isn't true unless folks are operating @ light speed. They take time. Sometimes that time is probably worth it, sometimes it isn't. Customers do like pictures, but I often wonder why it's necessary to include pictures for all the simple things like a piece of rotten fascia, or a leaking pipe.

One thing's for sure; you need a camera. Fortuneately, you don't need a very good one. 2 megapixel resolution is completely adequate for home inspection work. Honestly, a cell phone camera is good enough. Get one that's cheap & small, because you will probably drop it sooner or later.

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I'd be lost without my digital camera. Use a Canon Power Shot A-75. If I see stuff I don't like--point and shoot. Helps me remember and I include the real good ones in the report. Recommend a long lanyard around your neck attached to your camera. Camera fits into the former cigarette pocket. Carry a set of extra batteries. I burn up a set every 4th inspection.Camera is 2 years old-scratched up, but works fine.

I've heard all the stories about images that may incriminate you. If you are competant and thorough, that will not be an issue. Proof read!![:-banghea

I use the photos to show deficiencies.

Jack Ahern Needham on the Charles

Bridgton, Maine

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You are behind the times. Get on board soon. I'd go for a camera that does not have that zoom-out mechanism to the lens/barrel (or whatever it is called). The interior lens-zoom feature is better. You are going to be working in a dusty environment.

Key items:

-Best-grade cam pouch for your toolbelt.

-Lens cleaner

-Extra batteries

Use cam for:

Front/back/sides (you'll be surprised when you review them back at the office sometimes)

Shoot up/down chimneys. Awesome tool for home inspectors.

You can shoot around corners into spaces that you can't get into (Crawls, attics, furnace plenums downward to exchangers).

Roof shots

Always take a fistful of roofshots...Only need to use the best one or two as a representative shot.

Cams are great for 'sample' photos of something that is going on throughout the house, like:

-One spot of pinhole corrosion at brass pipes

-Some weird flashing issue that only a photo can convey.

-Rot at window sill/casing trim or something.

I'm whittling down the # of photos to about 12-15 per report (unless the client isn't there and then I add more).

Go for the cam, welcome to the 21st century. I've been using one for 11 years.

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Until recently, I never put pictures in the reports. I kept getting request for it and I started experimenting by putting them in more and more reports. Our testimonials soared after that. I now use pictures in every report.

I take from 60 to 100 pics a house. Of course, only about 15 make it to the report. I might take 3 pictures of one defect (different angles) just to make sure I have one good one. I also take shots from the roof, of Whirlpool tubs running, of open panel boxes, filled rooms/garages, junked up attices, etc. I take many of these CYA photo's in case I need to reference them in the future. The Client never sees these.

I'm camera poor. I have 2 Canons (soon to be 3)- the PowerShot S110 and S410, an Olympus C-740 and a Sony DSC-P10.

By far, the Canon Digital Elphs were made for home inspecting! They're small and can be carried in a shirt pocket and take great pictures. Even in those hard to get places that you can't stick your head. I do love the 10X zoom on my Olympus, but I'll sacrifice it for the ease of use of the Canon's.

You can pick up the Canon S110's on eBay for around $100. I just recently bought two for my inspectors.

Which every camera you decide on, make sure it has a rechargeable battery. Don't waste money on buying alkalines every other day.

If you buy a new one from a store like Best Buy or Ritz, make sure you buy the extended warranty. On average a camera will last me about 2 years of everyday use. Usually you have to get cranky with the folks at Best Buy, but they will send it back to be fixed or replaced of you have the extended warranty. I get upgraded about every two years this way.

Good Luck!

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Casio Exilim series - three or four different models available now. Huge screen on backside to see easily. Just over 1 second til camera is ready to shoot once you hit the 'on' button. 2-3 second cycle between photos. Extremeley fast and the best rechargeable battery on the market.

Took a two week vacation - didn't charge the battery once and it only dropped 1 bar on the readout. Took about 350 pics. Haven't maxed out the battery yet.

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I'm with you Randy!!!

The Casio Exilim series is the ticket. Small to comfortably fit in your shirt pocket. Takes as many pictures as I want, pull out the SD card, load it into the laptop and I'm ready to rock. Between the Camera and PDA, It's all I need to accurately document anything.

There a little pricey......but the convienance, portability, compactness and resolution is worth it!!

Brad

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BTW, I find that taking a lot of photos per inspection has improved my report-writing. When I whittle-out the photos, I basically say, "I don't need that...I'll just tell 'em about it in the report". That tends to churn you toward a better description for some reason. By using both mediums, you get better at both. It also makes you a better photographer. Framing of shots, lighting issues. Another thing is to try and take one photo that can include multiple issues. Marking-up the photos with text, circles, lines with a multiple-defect single photo is great. Slims-down the number of photos and enriches the report.

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