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zeb
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I started out using an IPAQ with 3D and loved it. Now, I only use the laptop and am much quicker on reporting. The time on site has not changed but the editing time is much less. I began to take note of the amount of time I spent "punching in and scrolling" the boilerplate. The time to return to the laptop, check boilerplate and type edits is no longer of a process. I work a hub around the pooter and simply return as the ole organic RAM becomes full.

MHO for what it is worth

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Kurt,

First, let me thank you for the tip on PDF factory; I got it, and now my report, summary and WDI are all together online; it's terrific!

Now, I use a Dell Pocket PC for my inspections. In my opinion, it's for gathering information on site, NOT for producing a report.

I have many macro's that I can open and then choose many options, for instance:

When I describe a furnace, my program includes a drop down menu that lets me choose the manufacture (I can add or delete brand names at will).

Another drop down menu let's me choose size of electrical service as well a location in the house.

There are many 'common' entries, ie. how I inspected the roof, location of attic access, did I enter the attic etc. that are easy & simple

So I gather and imput information in the pocket PC. When I come to a specific situation, I simply type in several words that remind me of the problem, take a picture then mark the catogory so when I get back into the office, I can write in detail about that area.

My only problem is these tired eyes sometimes strain to see the screen; I've yet to wear my reading glasses when conducting an inspection.

Darren

www.aboutthehouseinspections.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay,

You sold me. Mike Brown, if you're monitoring this, what kind of palm thingy gizmo do I need to run that palm thingy program and what other stuff, besides the palm thingy will I probably need?

Cost?

Oh yeah, here's another one for everyone in general, 'cuz I hadn't thought to ask it yet. How is TIJ displaying in Vista? Any difference?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I have been using a Toshiba Portege tablet, and it has worked very well. It has completed 600 inspections in three years, and I was getting nervous about how much longer it will last in the field, so I bought a Dell Axim X51 on ebay for $200. So far it and I are getting along well with the calendar, contacts and email functions. I am running Inspect Express, and will be upgrading to get the handheld software. I am anticipating a pretty big learning curve though, so I have been putting it off. I'll probably do it in May or June when I am so busy it will be the sink or swim method of learning. Has anyone made this switch? How was it?

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I tried the handheld bit but like Kurt said its only good for very generic reporting IMHO. I do use a pocket PC for scheduling. I use a Gateway tablet and 99% of the time I am finished with the report on site. I don't deliver on site because I like to "reflect" on my work prior to hitting the send button.

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"Oh yeah, here's another one for everyone in general, 'cuz I hadn't thought to ask it yet. How is TIJ displaying in Vista? Any difference?"

Just got a new Compaq with Vista; looks identical to XP. No problems.

BTW, the MAC/PC guy commercials about the Vista security issue (allow/don't allow) are right on the money. You have to approve every single download.

My Dell Axim PDA was just delivered. I have been a pen and paper guy for a long time. Will take some getting used to.

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Originally posted by Scottpat

... recently started trying to do inspections with my camera and no notes. ....

I did one this AM with a focus on JPG collection and will now see how it goes to write the report. Took 'some' notes ... but not too many. Images will drive this one. May work well as you indicated above.

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Ditto Camera.

I use to hate pulling up to those hell houses that I use to have nightmares about in my early years trying to figure them out and how to document them.

I got rid of the bad dreams by developing my camera use. I feel more like a film director these days.

It just depends on how complicated the house is. Most of the time its all camera but if its too complicated then I have to make notes too.

I just can't see how using a PDA or even a tablet will make if better or faster. I have tried to manage the computer on site and its just to distracting for me.

with a fast camera with video/audio and lots of memory I can zing along and stop and put needed attention to wierd stuff with out feeling like I am taking too long.

Chris, Oregon

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thread drifting

Speaking of hell houses, right after I posted that my next inspection was a hell house. 3 hispanic familys living in a 1500sf ranch. Babies and mold everywhere, raining in the attic or was that the sauna? severely moisture damaged floors, tiles falling out to the shower walls, clothes dryer vent venting into the crawlspace or was that the second sauna etc.

And if that wasn't enough, moms got all the burners boiling beans, vegies, rice.

And the insane thing was that one of guys had a hummer parked in the driveway! Sometimes I, I, I just want to slap those guys silly. I can't believe people would subject their babies to such an unhealthy enviroment. Oh, did I forget to mention about 50 bags of garbage in the back yard and a garbage can full of poopy diapers. Yuck!

Lets see you document that on your PDA with out falling ill![:-bigeyes I wound up the camera and let it fly, click, click, click and got out as fast as I could.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

thread drifting

Speaking of hell houses, right after I posted that my next inspection was a hell house. 3 hispanic familys living in a 1500sf ranch. Babies and mold everywhere, raining in the attic or was that the sauna? severely moisture damaged floors, tiles falling out to the shower walls, clothes dryer vent venting into the crawlspace or was that the second sauna etc.

And if that wasn't enough, moms got all the burners boiling beans, vegies, rice.

And the insane thing was that one of guys had a hummer parked in the driveway! Sometimes I, I, I just want to slap those guys silly. I can't believe people would subject their babies to such an unhealthy enviroment. Oh, did I forget to mention about 50 bags of garbage in the back yard and a garbage can full of poopy diapers. Yuck!

Lets see you document that on your PDA with out falling ill![:-bigeyes I wound up the camera and let it fly, click, click, click and got out as fast as I could.

Chris, Oregon

I try to price myself out of those.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thread drift, but a good direction....

I've got a Panasonic TZ-1 that allows audio "notes" after you take the pic. The "note" is actually a 5 sec. Quicktime movie.

I batch download everything into my Filemaker database which has container fields that store pic's & movies. I review the photos by double clicking on the image, and the photo tells me what I am looking at. I write it down.

I am doing a large commercial gig right now; 25 medical clinics, and if I was taking pen & paper notes, I'd be buried. As it is, I'm able to keep track of hundreds of issues in a surprisingly organized manner, and it makes for a really impressive report. As much as I used to hate the idea of using photos for my reports, folks just love it.

And, it speeds up the process more than I would have ever imagined. I've been able to cut my time on site by at least 25%-50% in some cases.

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Those of you who just use camera, I have some questions.

1. Once you're done with the inspection, get home at the end of the day, how do you remember what the picture was taken for?? Do you just look at the picture and write down what you see, or do you remember everything??

2. When taking pics of different defects, do you point to the defect?? So yo know what the pic is for??

3. What about informational stuff like taking the model # of the furnace, A/C, or the type of conductors in the panel, or the type of roof gutters, drainage, etc.??

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Originally posted by Martin Lehman

Those of you who just use camera, I have some questions.

1. Once you're done with the inspection, get home at the end of the day, how do you remember what the picture was taken for?? Do you just look at the picture and write down what you see, or do you remember everything??

Its easy to remember what is in the picture. I can't recall that I've ever reviewed a photo and was stumped trying to figure why I had shot it.

2. When taking pics of different defects, do you point to the defect?? So yo know what the pic is for??

Nope. See previous answer. Its easy to remember.

3. What about informational stuff like taking the model # of the furnace, A/C or the type of conductors in the panel. . .
Yes
or the type of roof gutters, drainage, etc.??

No

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So you guys can perform an entire inspection without taking any notes...I'm impressed.

If it really cuts down time on site by as much as 50% in some cases, I'm going to give it a go.

I have found myself taking longer and longer on site lately, not sure why.

I spent about 5.5 hrs on a 1940, 1300sqft house & crawl space - way too long. And then the report took me about 4 hours - I can't make a living like this!!

QUESTION:

How much longer, if any, does it take you guys to write the report if you dont have any written notes?

QUESTION:

Kurt, what is the actual model. Is it the Panasonic TZ1S 5MP 2.5" 10x Optical 40x Total Image Stabilizer? Costco has it on sale with a 2GB card for $200

The tough thing around here are the crawl spaces though - all the crawling in dirt destroys more cameras than anything else.

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How much longer, if any, does it take you guys to write the report if you dont have any written notes?

Well there is a trade off. There is added time sifting thru the pictures reviewing them and selecting the ones I want in the report. Also these days I put a lot more pictures in the report compared to a few years ago.

I would say that on average its more or less equal in time in that the time I might save on site is put back into the inspection at the picture review and editing process however the quality of the report is much improved since I can consider the condition with the pressure off and do any further reseaching if needed.

It has taken so much stress off of the on site investigation and permits me to investigate things more carefully without getting concerned about the client, seller or zoid chomppin at the bit and tapping their toe being concerned about making it to their next appointment.

I feel that I am collecting a lot more information about the house this way. And can also pull stuff up for further review should the client call with a question or a dispute arise.

I believe it has shortened inspection on site times and report writing times on POS houses substantially

Chris, Oregon

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When taking pics of different defects, do you point to the defect?? So yo know what the pic is for??

What I do is take up close photos usually in macro mode and then back out and take a broader view of the scene. The close ups help a lot for further review and consideration but I might only put one in the report along with the pic showing a broader view and draw an arrow from one pic to another. The dilema is if you take a close up then they may not know where its at and if you take it back far enough to see where its at in relation to everything else then you can't adequately image the problem. Knowing this I will take at least 2 pictures so I can show them where it is and what it is.

As far as getting confused I have some other tricks. For example I cross my fingers in the picture for a reversed wired outlet or make the sign of an O if open ground. To deliniate rot damage I take pictures where the defect fills the view in the camera and take pictures from farther back. Its the farther back pictures that make it into the report and I just review the close ups to establish extent. Things like that.

What about informational stuff like taking the model # of the furnace, A/C, or the type of conductors in the panel, or the type of roof gutters, drainage, etc.??

I do. Sometimes I will make a picture page with just the labels maked up "This the model# of the furnace" etc.

I have one agent who asks me to include pictures showing the diferent views of the home on the exterior. She says the clients think its cool.

The truth is I do take some notes mostly things like how many roof layers, was there drip edge or rake flashings, the different types of siding present, size and type of framing etc for the required descriptions in the SOP. But I have a form for this and can speedly jot that stuff down at the end of the inspection.

There is absolutely no time savings using a PDA to do this in my opinion. I can enter data on the paper faster then you can manipulate the PDA and as far as downloading it later its not practicle since I almost always edit something anyway.

Chris, Oregon

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  • 1 month later...

I have the laptop stationed in the kitchen with my word doc report. I use a digital voice recorder to notate and use cameras for visual impact on the report.

Like mentioned above, I get most of the report down on site, but tweak it at home before sending that evening.

I save my voice recorder files, which usually state problems I find, weather, strange situations with the house, etc to a permanent file(named the same as the inspection report) on the pc so if someone has a questions 3 months down the road I can review the file for any info that can help them, or save me :)

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