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Trying to decide - need your input.


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Here's my dilemna; I prefer to use Mac products or Windows alternatives. Looking at Home inspection Report software there's not many choices. I came across AHIT's InspectIt Report, which can run on Palm OS 5.0 and above. Has anyone used this software on a Palm? What's your opinion of it?

Is it a finished product on the Palm or does it need to be uploaded to a computer and finished off with photo's from there?

The other alternative I'm looking into is ITA's InspectNOW software that runs on Pocket PC. Same questions - Is it a finished product on the PDA or does it need to be uploaded and finished off with photo's from a computer?

I will be using my Mac G4 PowerBook as my business computer. On it, I run Virtual PC which allows me to run the Windows XP OS from within Mac OS X environment without having to reboot - rather convenient, but I would prefer not to have to connect to the internet while running windows. I've enjoyed the past 12 months with my PowerBook since I haven't had to worry about viruses or bugs or any of the typical Windows problems or concerns. Don't mistake this post as a MS vs. Apple debate - that it is not. I need advice on which report software to use, that is fairly comprehensible and can work on a PDA.

By chance, is there a report program available that works all within the Adobe PDF format? Adobe files are ambiguous between OS's and I'm sure I can find a way to make that work for my needs using Adobe for Mac.

Any other input??

Much thanks ya'll.

Have a fantastic, safe, and blessed new year.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Just curious. Did you consider just using a word processor. I use MS word and their built in visual basic to automate a lot of stuff. I want the flexibility to do it my way. It does take some effort to develope the macros I concede.

Chris, Oregon

Chris,

Actually, I have given some thought to creating my own; however, at this point I'm not knowledgable enough to design a "winning" product. If I were to do that though, I would do it using File Maker Pro - a comprehensive, well rounded program that can meet all of your needs.........gee that sounds like an advertisement, huh - sorry ;)

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Mike,

Any inexpensive ink jet will do. Consider it expendable at about $100. I don't print reports onsite, just some other documents. Just add a power inverter of sufficient wattage. Most will plug into a cigerette lighter. I like order and could not stand for things to shift around so I built a stand to fit between the second row seats of my Yukon. The stand stores supplies, a phone directory, and my transformers. The inverter is mounted on back of it. Printer goes up top. I added quick connects for the power supply cables and a relay. The whole this pulls out quick and will only run when the ignition is on. 2-3 hours to build, wire and set up.

Mahalo a nui

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Originally posted by Phillip

Mike,

Charles is right use a inexpensive printer. When I use one on site I have a small suitcase I carry mine in and I set it up on the kitchen counter with my laptop.

Phillip,

The last time I used a laptop and printer at the dining room table was an adventure to say the least. I started typing the report and the seller home owner told me She was in a hurry to leave and could I hurry and finish. Five minutes later She started running a vacum around the dining room where I was trying to finish the report. The dining room floors were hardwood and the noise was bad to say the least. Somehow I finished and outside the buyers Realtor apologized to me several times and thanked me for being so tolerant of the situation. She also invited me out for coffee. [^]

Anyway that was the last time I did a report inside a sellers home which was approximately 10 years ago. From that day forward I do reports in my van or at office and fax it.

Paul B.

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Hi,

I have an Epson Stylus Photo 820 printer that I've used on-site. It nests perfectly inside a 10-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage box that doubles as a printer stand. The comb binder punch also fits in there very nicely.

It takes less than a minute to remove the printer from the box, place the lid on the box and the printer on top, plug in the power, load it with paper and run a 10ft. long printer cable to the laptop. Prints a very nice report.

The only downside is the cartridges. The darned things are about $40 a set and if you include color photos throughout the entire report you'll only get about 5 reports per set. If you include a color photo of the house on the cover but do everything else in black and white it will do about twenty reports of 20 to 23 pages each.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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All of my reports are sent via Email! I might have to print one or two reports a year. I have yet to have a client that can't wait a few hours to get a report in the past 7 years (this is how long I have been emailing reports).

As for software, I have used 3D for many years. An important feature you need to look for with any inspection software is its flexibility, can you change the software to fit your reporting style and needs.

Just about all of the commercial inspection software programs have horrendous verbiage(Inspectorspeak and third person) that needs to be changed so you do not sound like a reporting robot.

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Been doing reports on a laptop since '91 w/an Apple Powerbook, and Filemaker Pro.

Went Windows in '94. Still do reports in Filemaker, and also InspectExpress/Word. Only one way to deliver....

.pdf's via email. Can't imagine hauling a printer around; haven't done that in >10 years.

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Thanks guys for all of your input and adivce. Kurt, I'd sure like to see the report in Filemaker sometime, although I believe at this point, I'm rather intent on using a handheld on site.

Are any of you familiar with InspectionWise or Quickwork and their Palm OS compatible report software?

Thanks again.

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Thanks Kurt. I gotta tell ya though, I've been talking with Bob Payne at InspetionView.....his customer services seems top notch, which is probably the most important issue to me, aside from the program itself, which so far seems very good as I'm running it in XP through Virtual PC on my Mac. At this point, I believe my serach is over. Thank you all.

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Mike, I have IW and will have to agree that their service is top notch. Bob will likely be the one to personally answer your questions if you have any.

Pretty trouble free, but I am still getting used to using it at the inspection (rather than back at the office) developing your own library of issues will be key to saving time and writting the report in your own words.

I will have to confess, I still don't like to deliver reports on-site even though I started back in the dark ages with hand written reports.

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FWIW, I do all my reports on site, publish to pdf, and burn to a CD for the client.

I do some subcontrctor work for a company which uses InspectWare; for my own stuff, I use a comprehensive document assembly macro application I've developed in WordPerfect. (Mush more versatile, powerful and stable than Word, and the macro language is very flexible and much easier to use than VBA or VB.)*

IW is good but could be better. The canned comments leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion, and I'd delete 'em all if I was just starting with it.

I've tested the Palm addon for IW, and used it for "preliminary" notes as I'd do the outside or otherwise wander from the workstation, and feed the info from it into the laptop version of IW, but it's way too expensive for that use - I can use a lot of 3x5 cards for the addon price.

IW has some good flexibility when it comes to modifying the "framwork" systems and subsystems and components are all easily added/subtracted.

But it has some real limitations: what info goes where in the report is pretty tightly wrapped. (The report template itself is editable, in theory, but I'll be damned if I can do much with the template beside change some colors. I _think_ its some obscure sgml editor but I really don't know.

And like it or not, all items called out get pulled into the summary.

Some/much of the functional "information management" in IW is primitive

I also tried the Carson Dunlop app for the handheld about 1 year ago.

It had some very good features and a deep store of backup info, But as of last spring, it wasn't ready for prime-time, IMO.

It has a strong hierarchial structure which is good in some ways, but a real pain to move from component to problem - up-down-up-down. I believe they were gomg to work on that feature.

I'm not real hot on the handhelds - I want to see what the reprot looks like and, if necessary, edit it before the final push into pdf. The handheld screens just don't have ebnough info for my taste.

With my system in WP, I print up a DVD case cover with the address, a printable CD with my Logo, etc and the address, a Summary Sheet that I fill out by hand for the client who wants something there and then in writing.

I produce the report in WordPerfect, print it to a pdf (built into WP).

I have a "website" that gets burned to the CD with auto-open which automatically opens the CD's "home page" into a browser. The home page has links to the Report and other "web pages - safety, maintenance, local services, promo info etc.

I also generate a "problems checklist" from the report info which I print to pdf and email to the selling agent for use as an attachment to the inspection contingency rider. (They get a text version too so they can cut and paste.) This gets emailed to the agent right after the inspection. (I can ofetn find an unsecured wifi router near the home being inspected, if not, there are free enough hotspots now that I can usually get to one within 5-10 minutes after I leave. (The smart restaurants also get my lunch money, too)

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Kurt,

I trashed all the "boilerplate" and have my own simple comments. "Appears Serviceable" and "Gas Stove" just was not a product I wanted to sell. Mike Crow helped me to see that I wanted to serve a "really good steak" but they want to pay for a "burger". I try to give them a "really good burger with my report".

Look at the sample report on my website. That report is the .1 revision of what I am still working on. I'm on a .3 right now. It is done in 3D -- as if you could not tell. I intend to attend the 3D training session in CA and have one of the "3D focus" guys working with my wife to jazz up the appearance a little bit. She has that creative/visual ability; I don't. I hope to glean a lot from the 3D people on the power of the program.

I can input the raw data and inspect an average home in about 3 hours. Spend 30 to 40 min of edit, clean up and add photos. Usually the first report is finished over lunch and emailed out before I get back in the truck.

Does the sample report reflect the simple specific comments on the house which you asked about?

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"How many folks write simple sentences about what's in the house? I mean, does anyone make specific comments about the house, or is it all boilerplated stuff?"

Well Kurt,

I'm not a great writer, but I dictate each word in every report for each individual building. The only "boilerplate" is:

  • A cover page that lists what steps should be taken now that the report is issued.
  • A paragraph about dealing with mold.
  • A paragraph from our attorney about mold.

Each report is so unique that my typist can't devise any shortcuts, but she's pretty good at guessing what I'm about to say.

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Originally posted by kurt

This is all well and good, but I'm curious.

How many folks write simple sentences about what's in the house? I mean, does anyone make specific comments about the house, or is it all boilerplated stuff?

Poor boilerplate, so misunderstood

Boilerplate is good - it is tried and proven, bulletprrof, if you will

A huge percentage of what an experienced inspector sees is something s/he has seen before.

Why rewrite the same thing each time? Not only are you wasting time, you're increasing your risk: if you describe the same problem different ways, you are giving potential plaintiffs (read - dissatisfied clients) a weapon - either through mistakes or by giving them an opportunity to make you look bad.

How many ways can you describe a missing T/P valve extension and what is needed?

Rewrite it everytime you see it and you're taking a chance of screwing it up.

I not only use "boilerplate" in my reports, I use it in my oral discussion, as well: My basic talk on most components is pretty much the same at each house

The trick is keeping from sounding like you're reading something off or that you're bored and reciting something by rote.

And when I add a canned comment to my report system, I look it over closely in the office, without the time constraints of being on site.

I read it "against" myself - can it be misread? Does it leave openings? Is is accurate and sufficiently complete?

A report is one type of legal document, what you say can be used against you, and you'd better be sure you don't give away the store.

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I'm not disagreeing; I use boilerplate for certain things, like a missing pipe on a T&P valve.

I'm just seeing so many of these reports that don't sound like anything. No specific information about the house, just canned info.

I've just found it useful to forget a lot of that & write simple sentences about what I'm seeing; in a lot of instances, it's quicker & better. Then again, I'm looking @ 100 year old weird joints, not the average house. There is no boilerplate for a lot of the stuff I see.

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I use Palm-Tech as a template and have replaced most of the boilerplate with sentence starters. As of late I have gotten away from the starters and am composing whatever sounds right for the moment. Reports are done off-site so I have plenty of time to edit myself, which looks lots better then my early reports done on site using boiler plate.

Ezra Malernee

Canton, Ohio

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Originally posted by paul burrell

Originally posted by Phillip

Mike,

Charles is right use a inexpensive printer. When I use one on site I have a small suitcase I carry mine in and I set it up on the kitchen counter with my laptop.

Phillip,

The last time I used a laptop and printer at the dining room table was an adventure to say the least. I started typing the report and the seller home owner told me She was in a hurry to leave and could I hurry and finish. Five minutes later She started running a vacum around the dining room where I was trying to finish the report. The dining room floors were hardwood and the noise was bad to say the least. Somehow I finished and outside the buyers Realtor apologized to me several times and thanked me for being so tolerant of the situation. She also invited me out for coffee. [^]I did not go for coffee but I thought it was nice of her to ask.

Anyway that was the last time I did a report inside a sellers home which was approximately 10 years ago. From that day forward I do reports in my van or at office and fax it.

Paul B.

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