Jump to content

Executive Summary


Recommended Posts

I would like some advice about writing executive summaries. I take it its about focusing on the improvements needed or recommended not resummarizing the problems found. The executive summary should discuss the immediate needs and ones which could be deferred and characterize major, minor, safety and comfort issues without getting into the detail of the problems found and that are already discussed elsewhere in the report.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Executive" summaries, or simply a summary, gets tricky; it' real easy to write "2" reports, and information that is theoretically important can get left out.

I try to structure the whole thing as a summary; no one reads most of this stuff anyway. My "descriptions" are simple lists. All my customers want is a hit list of what I think is important. That's what I give them.

I write complete sentences, but increasingly attempt to write my reports in a form system w/bullet points. No more longwinded narrative. The customer has to read each page, but can quickly skip to what's important under each major heading. Photo's are in a list view @ the back end of the report, w/brief notations.

Works real well for me anyway. Writing long full narrative reports day in and day out is mind destroying. Gotta have a quick & easy system, or the whole thing get's tedious, for me and my customer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Writing a summary gets tricky because what you think is important doesn't always jive with what the client thinks is important.

Then somebody's pissed because they discover something later that was in the report, but not in the summary. That somebody only really read the summary. It doesn't matter who's right, or who'll win in court. Unhappy clients aren't good for business. Write a clear complete report; walk the client through the report to make sure it's clear. Answer their questions, whether or not they remember to ask them. Happy client.

Happy New Year to all.

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

My summary consists of every issue enumerated in the reports - exactly as it's written in the full report - minus the descriptions and all fine print footnotes.

The summary reduces the physical size of the report by about half and I add a paragraph at the front of the summary advising the client that the summary is for convenience only, mostly for the sake of the realtor and further negotiations, if necessary, that there is valuable information in the full report besides the issues enumerated that they need to read about, and that they should read cover-to-cover, and rely only on the full report for any decisions they make.

Works for me. I send the client the full report and the summary reports as attachments to an email wherein I reinforce this to the client and I cc the realtor if the client requests it. Otherwise, it's up to the client to forward a copy of the report to their realtor if the realtor wants a copy.

Works for me.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Much like Mike, my 'Summary' is simply a verbatim copy-paste feature of the items identified in the main body of the report. My report is broken down in sections, 'Roofing' 'Exterior Components' 'Kitchen' 'Bathrooms' etc. Whatever I identify in each of these areas that needs attention, it is copied and pasted to the 'Summary'.

As mentioned previously, I choose not to make it my responsibilty to choose what is "priority" and what is not. The client or real estate agent can then turn to the 'Summary' and find everything that is in the body of report without having to read through the entire report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jesse,

I don't know if I'd call it 'thorough'. My report is MS Word based. Like I said, it really is simply a cut and paste feature. Not a lot of extra work, really. I don't re-write a thing.

As Kurt mentioned, the idea of a 'Summary' can be tricky. Who's to say what's important?

For example, rats are very common here. I find dropping and runways in the attic insulation lots 'o times. I write it down. To me, its not a "big deal" because they're everywhere. Just get a rat guy and deal with it.

I once had a client back out of a deal simply because the wife was so afraid of rats, she couldn't handle the fact there might be a rat in her attic.

That really helped me clarify the simple point that, also as Kurt has said, I'm just a list maker.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use an Action list(safety issues and major repairs). It is the same as a summary, I just wanted to be different. I tell my clients it is the items that I think are the main concerns, ask them to read the whole report. This is also type at the top of the action list. It also has the photos that I include in the report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In PA, we're required to identify any "Material Defects" which are defined as "A problem with a residential real property or any portion of it that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of the property or that involved an unreasonable risk to people on the property".

We choose to identify any issues in the report that are considered material defects by listing them again at the end. I make it a point to not reiterate the specifics.

For example:

1. Have an experienced carpenter make all the structural repairs throughout the basement and crawlspaces that I indicated.

2. Have an experienced, reputable chimney contractor install proper type and size flue lining systems.

3. Have a qualified plumbing contractor make all plumbing system and fixture repairs indicated.

4. Have a licensed electrician make the electrical repairs and corrections listed.

5. Have a competent heating contractor make the corrections to the installation of the boiler...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everybody but I wonder if I failed to make a distincition in what I was thinking. I was considering that the "executive summary" was something other than the "inspection summary". Evidently it is not in general practice. I don't currently employ an executive summary, hardly see any written by other inspectors and only have a client request something like it once in a while. I think that they are intended for administrative types. I mean to the normal client you never know what is going to be important to them. Just yesturday my client was all concerned about the insulation in the attic not being evenly distributed but wasn't concerned to much with all of the rotted LP siding on the exterior. go figure.

Chris, Oregon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I've never heard of such a thing and I've been doing this nearly 11 years. I think doing ordinary summary reports are risky enough, because of the tendency of clients to read the summary and ignore the entire report. I can't imagine creating something more refined beyond a summary, because I think to anyone other than the person who requested it, it will one day look like I've tried to manipulate, one way or the other, the way I've reported my findings, in order to favor a particular point of view.

At some point, the customer must make his/her own decision about a home. Provide them as much information as possible, allow them to use their own Grey matter to figure out what is important to them and I think one is less liable to get into difficulty later on. However, selectively providing what you think is all that they need to worry about, or what they think at the time of the purchase is all they need to worry about, and you run the risk that later on, after they've moved in and the stress of the purchase has been removed, that they're going to start seeing things that were in the report that they'd missed because they'd relied on that summary. I think that when that happens, regardless of what was said at the time of the inspection, the inspector will end up being accused of having minimized something and this 'executive' summary - if I'm understanding the concept - will only end up being ammunition for those who take that view.

I could be wrong. Have been before and, since I've never been involved in a lawsuit or arbitration since I started this gig, I've got no experience with which to support that position. Still, I think it is we who should make the rules in this profession - not the client and not the client's real estate agents. They should get what we decide to provide them and if that's not good enough for them, they'll just have to live with it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

. . .I mean to the normal client you never know what is going to be important to them.

Chris, Oregon

Yup. I think its easy to fall into the trap of trying to please everyone.

I would go crazy trying to be all things to all people. It's just not going to happen.

I've developed my 'system', report process and reputation over the years.

My goal now is to be consistent and continue to polish these core principles. If my report or 'Summary' style doesn't fit with some client's or real estate agent's expectation, then so be it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Chris,

An executive summary is typically used for commercial work only and reserve studies. You are right that they are intended for distribution at a board meeting and do not contain "all" the info of the report. For instance, We will do a complete inspection on a factory for GM and a reserve study. The reserve study may run 300 pages and the inspection 60+- pages. The executive summary may be 1-2 pages long. The executive summary will be distributed to a "board" and other executives/engineers, who have read the entire report, try to answer questions. If they can not answer the question, then we will. In this scenario, we would make the presentation of the report via summary only and try to avoid answering questions, as they should have been answered while the executives/engineers read the entire report before the meeting.

Clear as mud!?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...