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Help Please from all you Veterans,

I Dont know if this thread is in the right spot but I thought i would ask for some help here.

1. I currently live in Texas and follow the TREC guidelines for reporting although I currently give a much more thorough report than just the min. requirement set forth by the state.

2. I am using the SW Whisper Reporter which i think is a great and wonderful tool for on site reporting. I am giving the report on site and in the hands of the customer at time of inspection.

3. I am NEW to the field and seem lost everytime i walk up to a house. Almost likes its just overwhelming.

I have tried to come up with different methods or processes in which i try to follow and write on scratch paper(report) until i am finished with the whole house(including all photos)---Then turn around and try and transfer all that information again onto the SW report.

Problem---It is taking about 4-6 hours in doing this and I know I owe alot of this time to being a greenhorn in the field and need practice. LOTS of PRACTICE...I know.....

The reason i am posting is this...I want to know from the veterans or others that have found a way to cut time management down to 2-3 hours.

If someone could please post information that could help a rookie out without actually riding along would be great...the ride alongs seem to be far and few between because most of the inspectors know i am the competition and they don't really want me along for the Learning Curve unless i am from out of town.

Any thoughts? should i just try the inspection with camera only? should i not be using scratch paper reports and try and go back and forth between computer and home?

HELP would surely be appreciated and any thoughts I would entertain.

Thanks in advance

DP

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I can only tell you what works for me. I evolved from NCR[:-crazy] to PDA to the laptop on site. Redundant work (paper then computer) only slows you down. The PDA was a bit slow to move and enter data into and still had to sink withe the laptop. I enter data directly into the laptop now.

First establish a routine. Practice it at home and on friends. Work one room at the time (I lump the master suite as one and all other bedrooms on the same floor as one). You'll find there are major areas that require data entry. Have the computer close at hand. I work off of a hub or two if the layout requires it. I include photos for clarity and to check my work. NEVER do I want to write a report off of them. Way to slow.

Search the old threads here.

Your milage may vary.

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Originally posted by Discovery Pro

2. I am using the SW Whisper Reporter which i think is a great and wonderful tool for on site reporting. I am giving the report on site and in the hands of the customer at time of inspection.

If you are straining to provide this service, then don't. I would love to have the report complete by the time I leave, but I can't do that and provide adequate detail, clarity and customization for a particular home.

3. I am NEW to the field and seem lost everytime i walk up to a house. Almost likes its just overwhelming.

That may be because you are trying to compose your report prematurely.

I am very comfortable when I inspect a home, largely because I concentrate solely on the home. Don't pressure yourself - especially as a noob - to know everything on site. At this point, you should often have questions after an inspection. What do you do then?

Take both detail and overview (big picture) photos. Get to know every system. Relax and learn. It will delay your inevitable burnout with this business.

I have tried to come up with different methods ...

Problem---It is taking about 4-6 hours in doing this and I know I owe alot of this time to being a greenhorn in the field and need practice. LOTS of PRACTICE...I know.....

Well, if you know [;)]. You're right and I don't believe there is a shortcut that won't hurt your client and your reputation.

The reason i am posting is this...I want to know from the veterans or others that have found a way to cut time management down to 2-3 hours.

My average time has gone from 6-8 hours down to about 3 hours. My reports are better now than they were as a noob (most of us are embarrassed when we think back).

If someone could please post information that could help a rookie out without actually riding along would be great...

HELP would surely be appreciated and any thoughts I would entertain.

As I said, my report preparation time is less than half of what it was initially, yet I do nothing differently now than when I started.

The time is reduced because I have come to know local architecture and building practices. When I see something now, it is likely that I have studied its causes, asked the pros here, and been embarrassed that I didn't know something that Kurt, Katen, Mike, Les, Chad or Jimmy already knew. THIS id="maroon">is the place to be embarrassed.

You are asking the right questions. I looked at your website and you seem to be one of the good guys starting out in this biz. (Don't turn into a jerk now and embarrass me.)[:-weepn]

Wish I had shortcuts for you, but I don't want to cheat you or make you believe in an HI Santa. TIJ et. al. is the closest thing I've found to a friend in this business.

I do have one word of advice for you. Like you, I also place tags on shut-offs. Since I did that, I didn't repeat the information in my report. That sure busted a nut when it came time for ASHI report verification. (They do not believe there is more than one correct path to anything or anywhere. [:-yuck]) Best of luck!

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I break it all down into components and just plow right through each component. Focusing on one thing at a time is simple. I'm not worring about everything else. Works for a 1200 sq. ft rambler or a 5200 square ft. McMansion.

I'll inspect the roof, then go and write my notes about the roof etc. Developing a consistent system sure helps me out, especially on those days of burn-out. IOW, if I'm not mentally in the game, my routine doesn't let me miss anything (at least the important stuff).

And, like anything else. .. practice. You'll get better at your software and start developing techniques for maximizing your efficiency.

Also, understanding that your service is really to find the signficant items, not the missing screw from the bottom hinge in the bathroom door. Its not your job to scour every nook and cranny!!.

Its that crazy detail stuff that can really drag you down. I know, becuase I find myself getting stuck in that same habit that I unfortunately developed at the beginning. I have to take a breath and keep moving on, not getting stuck analyzing the action of a door knob!!

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I'm also a new inspector, so I can only tell you what I do.

First off, I don't write reports in the field, I don't know if I ever will, time will tell. I prefer to do it at my own pace, composing my comments until I am satisfied. I save them so I canbuild an archive of boilerplates. Although we see many different things, we see alot of the same things over and over. If I can pull up an existing boilerplate, it saves me alot of time.

If you write your reports at your office, even if it takes you the same amount ot time, your client won't be watching you, and wonderingwhat is taking so long. This will be a relief of a tremendous amount of pressure.

And, finally, as Gary mentioned, how do you handle issues that you are unsure of? I run into numerous things that I'm not sure about and prefer to research before I comment on.

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D.P as a relative Newbie my self I can as Bill Clinton used to say feel your pain.

First off Randy gave you excellent advice regarding big ticket Items.

The reason you feel overwhelmed is you are afraid to miss something that will destroy your career.

If you take care of the major systems,then the rest of your time is gravy.

Please do yourself a favor and also listen to Steve by doing the report off site where you can sweat details in private.

I too am going through the same thing , so chin up you will smile more as time goes by.

Oh... also the more pictures you take the less likely you will forget.They cost you nothing but will save you plenty.

Best of Luck.

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Wow, good info guys and thanks for your inputs. I am glad to know its not just me that has taken longer than 3-4 hours to get through the home---I thought I was just being too detailed.

and your right Randy--I sometimes find myself having ADD moments staring into floors and ceilings for sometimes over an hour and finding the same thing i saw only ten minutes into the assessment.

Then thats when i almost become lost as to what to do next----uh now I'm behind and oh no I'm going to be late to my next appt.---and then i feel i am doing a disservice to the folks that are there for the first inspection of the day.

This is what it feels like when your NEW--but I guess you already KNEW that.....

Thanks again

DP

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It's damn near impossible for me to get through a house in <3 hours, and the report is only roughed in when I leave; I have to go back to the office to complete it & email it.

Everyone's develops a pattern; I've got mine, and it's under constant review. You'll figure yours out. The fact you're thinking about it is testament that you're already smarter than most of the HI's I know.

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Hi,

The first inspection I ever did was on a 4600 sq. ft. 90 year old home and it took me about 6 hours. By the time I'd done about 30 inspection, I had my time down to between 3-1/2 and 4-1/2 hours for most homes and that's where it's stayed for the past 11 years.

Back when I was still a franchisee, I used to catch flak from the franchise headquarters about it every once in a while, because their expectation was that it should never take more than 2-1/2 hours. However, I became convinced early on that there's more to this gig than what the schools that turn out the 6-day wonders will tell you and, to do it right is almost impossible in less than 3 hours. In my curmudgeon's opinion, anyone trying to get through a home in less time is short-cutting the client and setting themselves up for eventual failure.

As far as writing the report? Well, I write full-narrative reports and, as you can see, I'm a long-winded old bastard, so I just do it as quickly as I can get it all typed without forgetting anything and I don't worry about how long it takes. It gets done when I get it done and not before.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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D.P your time is not off. I know there's guys out there who can do the whole inspection and report on site in 2 hours. I don't actually know any of them. Well maybe theyr'e a myth.

My onsite times after 8 years are 2 - 3 hours with the same back at the office to write the report. In fact I will step up and embarras myself and tell you I have spent many times taking 6 - 8 hours to write a report messin around researching stuff.

Don't do the report on site. Spend all your availible time inspecting and collecting info. I take a gadzillion pics.

Its all bullshit about part time work with a full time income.

Chris, Oregon

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The only thing that might speed up the process is to develop a pattern or method for your inspection.

I start outside and inspect from left to right and then after I have gone around the home two times I turn back around and go from right to left. Then I trot up to the attic to take a look at the decking, framing, etc. Then if it is safe I go on the roof. Next I setup my base of operations in the kitchen. I then turn the DW on and start checking the electrical. Then I check the plumbing in the bathrooms while checking the outlets, two birds with one stone. Then while I'm checking outlets in the bedrooms, I check the windows and doors as well. Again a little multitasking. While checking the outlets in the garage, I check the garage door and openers.

I continue this process until I'm done. During my trips through the house I travel through the kitchen and make my notes onto either my PDA or laptop(for big homes). On simple homes I have started to take my notes with my camera and a digital voice recorder. I like this method and I might start doing all of my inspections this way. It adds a little extra time to the report writing but it tends to shorten the time on site. Back at the office I can produce a report in about an hour or less, it all depends on how much I put in the PDA or laptop while at the inspection.

I do not do reports on site. If it is a rush deal, I can have a report emailed to the client in about two hours. I simply stop by a local coffee shop that has public Internet access and type away. This might happen a couple times a year. I tell all of my clients that they will have their report within 6 hours after the inspection.

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It is all in the routine - lining up the synapses and creating an inspection memory. I have lost more inspectors because they had no memory. Memory for inspection process is built by routine.

We actually play the memory game around the office. "Hey Jason what brand was that water heater on 123 Jones st last week?" We strongly subscribe to the same hamburg theory - every inspection is exactly the same, just the names change to protect the inocent!

PS: when the memory is goooooood then the confidence builds and you are a better inspector. Gary's issue with the tags illustrate an important inspection concept - if it ain't written, then it ain't there!

You will do just fine because you are thinking about it. I have never met Chris B, but I kinda like him because he thinks things to death and that tells me he does care about his client.

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Ditto to what Les said.

I came to this business after years as a military cop and investigator. I'd trained my memory years before to focus on crime scenes from an investigator's eyes so I could minimize the amount of note-taking that was necessary and improve my memory at trial. Today, a client can call me and say, "Hey Mike, remember me? I'm so-and-so and you inspected my home for me at such-and-such street about 4 years ago?" My answer to them is usually, "No, sorry, I'm not so good with customer names and faces. Can you tell me one or two things about the house that I reported as an issue?" Then they'll start to tell me what I'd written about and it's like I've suddently had a video tape plugged into the back of my brain and the job will start playing back in my head. Then it's, "Oh, wasn't that the house with the _and the ___?" If they answer yes, I'll then ask them to confirm one or two other things, usually something abscure about the house, to make sure that it's the right house I'm thinking about, and then I'm able to answer their questions easily. It routinely blows them away that I can pull up so much detail from memory. It blows me away too, 'cuz I can't seem to remember what I had for breakfast most days or what day of the week it is or whether or not I'd answered so-and-so's email that I just got.

Bottom line. Your brain is a tool that learns. If you train it to think like an investigator, first focusing on the general, then the detailed and then the specific, you'll retain more. Before you enter that home, step back onto the street and size it up. Burn a mental image of the home into your head - what type of architecture, how old it is, whether it's on a flat site or a hillside site, what side the weather comes from, etc.. Then look at the details - whether the roof line is straight or sagging, are chimneys leaning, etc. and commit those details to memory. Then, when you go up to the house and begin looking at the exterior, start looking at the specific - what type of siding, how well is it installed, is it damaged, cupping or nailed on wrong, are there head flashings over windows, rotten window sills, etc.. Get the idea?

If you have a library nearby, go check out some books on crime scene investigation and study the chapters on how to train yourself to adopt a pattern of observing and mental and actual note taking. It will help you a lot.

Gotta go, I'm already late getting out of here.

Relax in your skin a little bit. A house is a series of systems. Get to know everything you can about those systems and become intimately familiar with them and reading houses becomes second nature.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Les ain't wrong, but...

don't get toooooo confident. I had a discussion recently with Daniel Friedman. If anyone has a right to be overconfident (and they don't), then it would be Friedman.

An incredibly nice man, he put a link to my site because I offered a minor edit. After I thanked him for the link and such a vast resource of information he said thanks, but added, he will never get too confident because then you start to miss things. He's one of the pioneers who will help everyone. His friends rank among the best in this field as well (present company excluded!)

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DP et al,

This may sounds controversial, but it isn't meant to be. I know at least a few of you guys who are much smarter than I am will disagree, but I'll offer it anyway:

I think that after you've been practicing in our profession for a couple of years, there's no need to take more than 1-2 hours maximum to write a report. If you're taking that much time, I'd submit that you are very likely giving your client more information than they need (and likely want). Either that, or you're typing with your toes.

Most every report I write takes me about 45 minutes to an hour (I don't do photos).

Cheers,

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Jim, very good point (Chris listen). I have been known to take too much time with the verbal, but never the written. But, I think it comes with confidence that you have observed everything.

We report more loose stools than most and never lay a hand on them. While talking about the volume and pressure of water, we nudge the bowl with our calf. Most people never see that little nudge and we don't mention it except when it is loose. Another time saver for us is we establish a line of sight: door jambs to wall corners to cabinets to windows, etc. Get in the habit and you cut down on looking at everything an individual component.

maybe more later - lost of good stuff here for all of us.

PS: I am not ever too confident and swear I learn everyday!!!!!

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Yeah, well I said I was embarrassed to admit it. I hope to get it down to something reasonable again. Thats what you get for working outside of any association for so long. I have had to reconsider a lot of things and make a lot of changes I wouldn't have had to probably if I had joined TIJ or even ASHI sooner and got myself involved.

You guys are the blame. I thought I was pretty happy in my gobbledygook world of inspecting. Now I'm going thru an arduous repentance.

Chris, Oregon

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Bobby,

It appears that you went through AHIT for your training, as did I. I know that they push the on-site report delivery, but I want to caution you against that. I do print out a preliminary report (I use ReportPlus on a lap top) at the time of the inspection, but the front page of the report bears the following:

"This is a preliminary report. The final report will have digital pictures inserted where appropriate and be posted to our website (www.irsindy.com) within 24 hours of the completion of your inspection. Please read over the entire final report prior to finalizing any legal agreement regarding your real estate transaction.

You will receive a printed and bound copy of the final report through the postal mail at the address that was provided. Please ensure that the address that we have on file (Client Address, Client City, Client State, Client zip) is correct and notify us of any discrepancies."id="blue">

This gives me time to read over the report again and make sure that everything is stated as intended. I also usually remember something that may not have made it into the report and jot that down on a piece of paper while I'm driving to make sure that I had put it into the report. When I insert the photos, I cover the text on the front page with an exterior shot of the home so that it is hidden behind the photo.

This will give them something to leave the inspection with, but still allows you to make changes without having to call/meet them with a report addendum and have them wonder why you didn't include it originally. My pre-inspection agreement also states that the final report will not be given out at the time of the inspection.

As far as the time on-site, I have been doing this for about 1-1/2 years. Starting out I was about 3-1/2 to 4 hours per inspection. Now with more experience, I am more thorough and spend 4-5 hours plus time at home going over the report and inserting photos. I know that AHIT (as well as some seasoned inspectors) says that 2-3 inspections per day is the norm, but I can't see me consistently doing that without being as thorough in my inspecting and documentation. It takes me 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours on-site to do a house with a crawl if I find no problems. I schedule the inspection for 5 hours and show up about 2 hours prior to the client then go over my findings when I am done. Realtors don't usually like the thoroughness of my inspections, but the clients are always happy and that is what matters.

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Jon,

You are correct---I took a course from AHIT in Arlington,Texas(BTW the new stadium looks Kick A**for the Cowboys) last august or july its been awhile I cant remember exactly when but yes they for sure push the idea of on site reporting as the niche to your success with other inspectors in your area. I mean why choose me? what is it that I can offer a client than what they are already getting from their(realtors) inspectors they have used for years.

I and many others call this a unique selling point and one in which i think i will be able to accomplish. I am very competent with the computer and also have become more proficient in the use of whisper solutions new Reporter program[cause i couldn't wait on AHITs vista version of reportpro for texas(and yes i own that program as well)]. I know there are many that choose to do the report at home ---but when your away say 2-3 hours from your office I don't want to make the trip back just to hand deliver a report, snail mail it to them or email it to them. Even though i may know computers well when it comes to my client i think email would be the last choice of getting my client his report. It's just my personal opinion that I like the face to face and not the impersonal form of email, but thats just me and my own opinion, maybe some of the younger folk like the internet and the quick form of email but I would rather the old fashion form of the face to face and your done when you leave the site. But that is another topic in and of itself. I am not here to gloat on me trying to be the fastest of inspectors but there is time management that needs to be considered(looked at) and I am looking for the best and most efficient manner of doing it.

I say get out there and know your client and what they want--I may have been in the medical field for the last 8 years but before that i was Sales Supervisor for a large beverage company i wont say which. I know i have what it takes to be there for my customer.

I took the Texas Exam in March(1st time)--passed it with flying colors--I started really thinking about the format of delivery i wanted to use for reporting, how to set the business up and get it going. Get the webpage up and running, get all my ducks in a row before i see one realtor although i already know several. As of today i have done nothing but practice,practice, practice. I have not charged for one inspection as of this date. I am fortunate to have a wife that makes 6 figures and carrys the load for now.

I respect this business for what it is and I will not do the injustice of charging my clients for an inspection until I am ready and able to present them with top notch work. This is not a business you just jump into and say this is what i will do this year. I want to be the best there is and I will accomplish that as long as i stay focused in on the big picture. I am not in this for the short haul, I am here to stay and help others someday with it as well.

I am glad i have found a place like this with people who really do care about what they do. I have not been in this business long and have found out about inspectors doing $100 inspections and getting like 6-10 a day done because it only took them an hour to do it. Good for them...I don't want to be that $100 inspector--my time and effort are worth much more.

Sorry for such a long post but just thought i would give a little history as to the reasons i am here and want to learn. I will make it someday but it takes perseverance and ongoing training to be the best.

Thanks for all that have posted here and I hope you all are successful in all aspects of life.

Have a wonderful day.

Deals don't die, somebody kills them.

DON'T BE SOMEBODY

Bobby King

Discovery Pro Home Inspections

Abilene, Texas

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I don't do house inspections these days (unless it's for litigation support) but in case anybody's interested, here's how I got reports done up until about a year ago.

I worked with a partner. I did that because I was working too long and too hard, and had no fun at all. Hardly ever got to talk to my wife and daughter. So I cut my salary by half, and hired co-inspector Rick. Best thing I ever did.

Anyhow, on the job, after we'd both walked around and through the house twice, I'd sit down at the kitchen table, fire up the laptop, and start writing what I knew.

As I was doing this, Rick was opening and closing windows and doors, checking for leaky faucets, aberrations, etc. On the pages of a little Pocket Docket pad, he wrote his observations in shorthand (for instance, yellow bath sink drain AFU), then dropped the pages on the kitchen table, next to the laptop. As I wrote the report, I mentally created a "highlight reel" in my head. Soon, I would deliver this highlight reel to my customers.

About 90 minutes into the job, the customer(s) would show up, because that's what I asked them to do. They would join me at the kitchen table. About this time, co-inspector Rick would go in the crawl space.

As Rick was crawling, I'd deliver my highlight reel speech to the customers, right there at the kitchen table.

After Rick emerged from the crawl space, he'd tell the customers what he'd found in there. As he was talking, I'd record his observations in the report.

Then, Rick would sit down at the laptop, and print out copies of the report. I would take the customers on a little walk around the house, and show them the things they wanted to know about.

As soon as I finished with that brief "walk & talk," Rick would hand each party his/her copy of the report. The whole thing took about two hours.

Two people can work more than twice as fast as one guy.

WJ

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