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Inspect Express-Opinions?


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Does anybody use Inspect Express?

I use Inspectvue 3 now, and all-in-all I like it. I'm concerned about how quickly I can get a new guy up and running with it. I'm considering switching to something that easier to learn; is that the case with Inspect Express? I've downloaded the sample, but haven't had much time to play with it. I'd like to get ohter opinions.

I'd appreciate feedback only about these two products. I know we all have have very strong opinions about software, and I'm just looking to campare these two side by side.

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Hi Chris,

I really like Inspect Express. It requires almost no training and is very intuitive. I operated the program reasonably quickly and effectively w/ o reading any of the instructions.

The boiler plate is pretty good and for the most part when multiple comments are selected from the boiler plate, the sentence structure remains grammatically correct.

I've also found Mike Brown @ Dev Wave to be VERY accessible, and as a result, had enough faith in him to ask him to design my logo, and he's currently building me a website that's going to be quite nice.

I looked at a dozen programs, and from my "newbie" perspective, this one was by far the easiest to learn. I'm not a technophile so it was very important to me that there not be a huge learning curve in the program I selected.

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Started using IE when my son and I started our company. As Chad mentioned, the authors are VERY responsive. Software without support is like undershorts without the elastic waistband.

I am most pleased.

As to the boiler plate, it seems as if it were written by some wacked out , left coasted, oversized, vet.

Hope to meet him someday.

Tom

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I have been using IE for ~1 month, still learning the program. My first report took me 5 hours to finish with only the cover photo. Now, if I stay focused I can complete a 34 pager(yeah, that's a lot)(no SOPs)with 15 color photos in about 3 hours including the multi ring binding for finished presentation. I have mixed feelings about the software.... perhaps its the learning curve but it's not all that quick and easy. (could be me) I find that I have to read the entire report word for word and cannot skip ANY part of the dropdown menus or it will report a slab floor as a 2x10 joist w/crawlspace. I purchased this program because it had a nice layout when finished and included a Summary of Defects section. Very easy for realtorzoids to understand and copy for the sellers. I always tell the client to read the entire report and not just the Summary section. (Realtorzoids repair list)I do believe that with experience I will be able to complete a photo report with bindings in under 1 1/2 hours.

Sometime ago Mike stated he was useing IE, perhaps he could share his experience too? I'm curious about how long it takes an expert to complete a photo report.

From Tom's post:

As to the boiler plate, it seems as if it were written by some wacked out , left coasted, oversized, vet.

Any comments MIKE?

Ron

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Only that you also forgot long-winded and anal retentive.

Seriously,

I've think I've explained this before, but I'll do it again. In order for the descriptions contained in the drop-downs to string together into an actual narrative, and one that makes sense, lead-ins and drop-down comments had to be written a certain way. Naturally, because it writes the description narrative fashion - without bullets or icons - You have to be careful to examine all of your choices in the drop-downs before choosing one, and have to read your finished narrative and make any corrections needed, if you want the narrative to be correct. Still, even most of the drop-downs can now be easily re-written by the user with a simple right-click. However, the user needs to be careful to ensure that whatever lead-ins and drop-downs he or she writes will string together properly. That takes some effort and there is no way we can do it for you. You know how you want your report to sound, we don't.

The boilerplate used to describe various deficiencies doesn't have every single deficiency one can think of. Those used are common in some areas and not so common in others. The value is in the ease with which you can customize the boilerplate, if necessary, to work in your own region.

The boilerplate is written so that it describes the basic issue, where the issue is, why that issue is not a good thing for the home, what can be done about it and the provides a recommendation. The boilerplate is intentionally over-written in such a manner that whole meanings can be changed to fit several different, but similar, situations, by adding or deleting just a word or a few words from a parapgraph. This is so users who don't have good typing and composition skills don't have to do a lot of typing and can still turn out a decent report that wouldn't have earned them an F in a high school English class. No, the finished product may not earn them an A, but it will make sense to the reader and ensure that the inspector's report is complying with his Standard of Practice.

What a user has to learn, if he or she intends to use the boilerplate without customizing it or changing it, is to carefully read what hits the page to ensure it is what he or she wants to say. One also has to learn basic computer keyboarding skills, such as how to highlight, delete, insert, cut, copy or paste a word or phrase.

For those with good typing and English composition skills, who have their own way of describing a specific issue, and have issues specific to their own region, the value of the program is not so much in the boilerplate as it is in the way the program works and the ease with which it can be easily and quickly customized. Like 3-D, most users who are good writers and have good typing skills are going to want to re-write the boilerplate to suit their own style. The archive feature is very good for this, because one has the ability to archive up to 50 different boilerplated responses for each issue seen. That means you use your most commonly worded text for each issue as your default boilerplate, but you have the ability to make a couple of quick mouse clicks to reach your customized text and replace the boilerplate comment with it.

My report time has varied, depending on whether I was writing on-site or at the office. When on-site, I am more willing to accept the boilerplate and make minimal changes. I do most of the input during the inspection as I move through the home and spend about 20 to 30 minutes at the end of the inspection finishing up input, printing and binding the report in a comb binder. If I were to customize the boilerplate for my own use, instead of using the generic text, I could probably be done within minutes. (One of these days, I hope we'll stop tweaking it, so I can customize the text for me.)

Off-site, back at the office, I can have a report done start to finish in under 45 minutes if I use the boilerplate unaltered. Since I'm somewhat long-winded, anal-retentive and can type 80+ words a minute, I tend to alter the boilerplate and write something different on every inspection I do. Some are done in 1-1/2 hours, others 2 to 3, others 4 or more. It really depends on my mood and motivation. Again, I can't wait till I'm done tweaking all of the generic stuff, so I can sit down and write it the way I speak. You guys are ahead of the power-curve there, 'cuz you have the ability to do that now if you wish. (Mike B. will e-mail me and tell me that I have that ability too, by choosing an alternate, customized format, which is one of the features built into the program, but I'm just too lazy to do that.

Okay, I hope this helps somewhat.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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When choosing software or a good quality narrative type checklist, the one thing I feel is of most importance is how it feels to YOU.

It has to gel with your personality. If my toilet is leaking, I don't want some longwinded dimwit in love with their own voice trying to explain the history of indoor plumbing, or where toilets were invented or other such gibberish that is so bloody boring, you can't stay awake to hear what they said.

Just tell me my toilet is leaking because the bowl is cracked and needs to be repaired or replaced. If I want more info on toilets I'll get it from the plumber thats replacing it.

In short - get to the point, and do it FAST - or I'll kill you and all your children. But there are different personality types - for example an accountant or computer programmer might have to hear the full history of indoor plumbing to feel comfortable with your report.

Don't ask me what I like, look inside yourself.

Dan Bowers

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Dan,

You are correct in that the software should fit your personality and level of Sphincter suction. However, when someone is just starting out and has to watch every penny they spend on tools and schools, it becomes vital they get the report writing software right the first time. At $600 on up, Ya don't want to do it twice. Downloading partialy working demos helps narrow it down to a few, but information from the "horses mouth" is hard to beat. I agonized two weeks over which one to buy, I asked questions of other HIs and found IE to suit me the best. Perhaps I just wanted confirmation.

Ron

Thanks for the reply Mike

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I'm at the point where I'm reassessing most of my equipment and methods, simply because I know so much more about what's available, what the job is really about, and how I want to approach it, than I did when I started. I'm looking at software and hardware, and how I can put together a system that will do the job at the level I want, as time-efficiently as possible.

I'm waiting on a demo CD for I.E. because I think I would prefer a full narrative in the long run, especially if I can couple it with voice recognition software somewhere down the line. I want to cut my report time down without sacrificing quality, if I can. My current software (Borealis) lacks all of the "Word" tools I'd like to have, like cut & paste, copy, etc. And on houses where you have the same issue in 6 locations (like lack of GFCI's) I don't want to have to report it in 6 different places. Report it once and list the 6 places with 1 recommendation, much easier for me and less confusing for the client, I think. Little things can add up to less aggravation and time over the length of a report.

Good luck with the addition Chris.

Brian G.

Gotta Keep Refining It All [:-magnify]

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