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I'm sure that those of you who have been in the HI business for a while have developed a preference for the order in which you conduct your inspections. For instance, grounds followed by structure and so on. You have developed a certain order since it helped you streamline things.

Would any of you care to share the process you use and the reasons why you find it more efficient?

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Originally posted by AHI

I'm sure that those of you who have been in the HI business for a while have developed a preference for the order in which you conduct your inspections. For instance, grounds followed by structure and so on. You have developed a certain order since it helped you streamline things.

Would any of you care to share the process you use and the reasons why you find it more efficient?

I'd be happy to. But understand that it's different for every inspector. I've never met two who do it the same way. Here goes:

8:00 am Introduction & Seller Interview.

I arrive at 8:00 am and introduce myself to the seller. I explain that I’ll be starting with the exterior and the roof and that I won’t need to come into the house for another 45 minutes or so. (They like this because it gives them time to wake up.) I also warn them that the entire inspection will take between 4 and 5 hours, maybe more if I run into any delays. After they stop bleating, I ask them a battery of routine questions about the house.

8:02 Set Up Camp

I bring my bags & my inspecting stick to the front porch, set up my thermometer to measure temperature and humidity and then note the weather conditions. Finally, I take a compass reading and burn it into my mind so that I know where south & west are in relation to the house. In my area, that’s where the weather comes from and it has a great impact on the house.

8:05 Walk The Far Perimeter

I walk the perimeter of the yard, looking at the house from a distance. During the perimeter walk, I find the water meter and peek at its dial to see if it’s spinning. I also look at the paths that water takes on and around the building. I’m looking at the grading around the house and the grading of this yard in relation to the neighbors’ yards. Sometimes I have to walk down the street or into neighbors’ yards to get the view that I want. I’m also looking at the paths that water takes on and over the house itself. I imagine rain hitting the peaks of the roof and running down till it goes into a drain or into the ground. This take a fair bit of concentration and is one of the reasons why I dislike having customers present during the inspection. I use the stick as a walking stick and to discourage neighborhood dogs from bugging me.

8:15 Walk The Near Perimeter

Then I slowly walk around the house – always in a counter-clockwise direction. Once I’ve completed one circuit, I go back the other way. On these two circuits, I’m looking for decay and a general close-up view of the cladding, windows & doors. I pay particular attention to those areas that get stressed by water & wind. I also test hose bibs, measure water pressure & test exterior receptacles & GFCIs. I use the stick to probe areas where I suspect rot.

8:35 Roof

I fetch my ladder and climb the roof. From the edge of the roof, I look at the condition of the gutters, drip-edge flashing, number and type of layers and, if it’s a comp roof, I lift a shingle or two to look at the fastener type and placement. Then I climb onto the roof. I always wear: corks on shakes & shingles; birks on comp shingles and metal roofs; and stocking feet on tile. I’ll walk most any roof up to 7:12 – 8:12 if I can go up the valleys. I don’t walk roofs that are steeper than 8:12. Once up there, I look at all the normal stuff according to what type of roof it is. I also look at the chimneys and the electrical mast & service drop. I sniff the plumbing vents after I’ve made sure they’re not full of wasps.

If the roof is too steep for me to climb, I’ll move my ladder around and look at it from every possible vantage point that I can get to. Occasionally, I’ve climbed a neighbor’s roof in order to get a good view of my customer’s roof. Twice, I’ve actually had neighbors let me into their houses so that I could look through their windows.

From the roof, I also look at the yard again to see any patterns I might have missed. Of course during my entire time outdoors, (including my time on the roof) I’m on the lookout for carpenter ants, our number one pest.

8:50 Go Indoors & Hit The Attic

I put away the outside ladder and get the inside ladder, gather all my stuff and enter the house. I holler, “I’m coming in now!â€

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I take photos of what looks wrong on the outside ,while waiting for my client.

Upon client arrival I head straight for the kitchen which is a method gleamed from this forum when reading a post by a rookie inspector.

Kitchen serves as my base of operation where upon I have my inspection contract signed and I proceed with inspecting the kitchen.

Often after that I will check outlets ,serving the duel purpose of getting me around the layout.

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In the beginning I tried to keep to a routine thinking that was the best way to not miss something. I don't do it that way anymore.

Today, I usually start by taking glamour shots of the house then I proceed inside and start in the kitchen, do the interior then proceed to the garage and then to the exterior with the attic and crawlspace last.

But I routinely break that order.

The best thing I ever did was not try to do the report on site that way my full attention is on the house and any odd stuff that I find. But thats me. I know that other inspectors have no problem staying focused and are able to enter in a lot data on site. I have debated it over and over and I am just not comfortable with managing anything else other then my camera, a sheet of paper and pen on site.

Chris, Oregon

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I actually start the night before the inspection, by looking at the location on Mapquest (directional orientation of the street so I know which way is which per the house, for weather reasons), reading the disclosure, and checking the county appraisal website for non-realtor supplied data (age, sq. footage, additions).

On site it's a quick introduction very much like Jim's, but without the questions, and on to taking shots all around the exterior. I want to be able to see every wall and roof section when I look back at these later. As I'm moving around the yard photographing I'm looking at drainage and trees.

A few quick notes and I'm up on the roof, if I can possibly get up there. I start again with a few wide, general shots, particularly trying to catch most of the complex features and penetrations. Scour around and find out what I can, but no sniffing of vent pipes (I just look down 'em).

Once down it's right off to the attic, while the roof issues are fresh in my mind. Down here doing the roof and attic first, in whichever order, makes a lot of sense. At 8 AM on a typical Southern day the attic is already pretty dang hot. Wait an hour or two and they may have to haul you out on a stretcher.

After the attic I move to the exterior, again to avoid the worse heat later. I start at the front/left corner and go around to my right, for no particular reason. After the exterior I cover anything else in the yard I want to look at (outbuildings, playsets, fences, retaining walls, whatever).

If there's a garage that will be next (carports are in with the exterior examination). It makes a good transition to the interior.

Inside I like to start with systems. Electrical panel, water heater, and HVAC, usually in that order; not always.

Then I do the kitchen, master bath, and all other bathrooms after that. Last inside is a general check of all other rooms (doors, windows, outets and switches, ceiling fans, etc.), and any other interior items I want to include (fireplaces, stairs, etc.).

If the house has a crawl space it goes dead last. That takes as long as it takes, and I usually come out ready to sit on my butt and drive home.

During all of that I'm going back to the bag occasionally to swap tools, make notes, and catch little breaks. I carry a folding stool to sit on if I need it, but no table. I only do one per day, so time is not a problem and I never, ever get in in a hurry while I'm working.

I do my reports and all else back at the home office. On-site is good for some, but not for me. Since my clients are almost never around when I do the inspection, I get back with them after I have everything ready for a sit-down review of the report and photos. This isn't a big metropolitan area, and I consider that time a great investment for both me and my client. This is when I tell them all, and when they learn to love me.

Brian G.

Gotta Show the Love, Gotta Feel the Love [:-love]

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My routine is similar to Jim and Brian's. The morning inspection starts between 8 AM & 9 AM and the afternoon inspection starts between 1PM & 2 PM. I also look on Mapquest or Google Earth to get a birdseye view of the house. I'm not comfortable on roofs over 6/12 pitch, and most roofs in my area are 8/12 or better. So I end up moving my ladder around the house. When I do go up on the roof, I always look in the attic first to see if I can see any surprise that I would not see until I stepped on it while on the roof!

I go over my rough findings with my client on site and produce and email the report from the office. I say rough findings because I take a bunch of pictures, and at times I will find something in a picture that I did not see so that ends up going into the report.

I like Jim's "Inspection Stick" idea, I think I will use one of my collapsing trekking poles next week to see how it works for me.

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First post here, so I'll go with a non-controversial subject. Wouldn't want to step into a mess such as a discussion about the various national organizations or similarly divisive topics! I realize that this is drifting a little bit... but John did mention efficiency and I notice several of you make references to writing notes. If this works best for you, great; I wouldn't presume to tell you to change. However, years ago I switched to a digital voice recorder kept on a lanyard around my neck. Best thing I ever did as far as speed and accuracy go. I use an Olympus with 3 folders each capable of 100 notes. Good voice quality and rugged. I've got one also for really busy days that has 5 folders of 100 notes each. It's also an mp3 player, though I don't use it for that. Notes from it can be transferred to my computer via a built-in USB plug, making it possible to dump the notes and free up folder space before heading to the next inspection. This unit is a little quirky and not as robust as my older 3 folder one so I don't usually use it. The funny thing is that I find that there is something about dictating the notes that "locks" the info into my brain better than writing them did back when I used a clipboard. I can recall about 95% of the info when I sit down to generate the report later without even accessing the recorder. Then I just play the notes back quickly and check for missed items. The digital recorders are worlds better than the old microcassettes (for you older guys who have actually seen or used one of those) since you can instantly skip forward or back from one note to the next without any delay.

John, as for your original question, I suspect if you read the posts you'll find no two inspectors do exactly the same things in the same order. I think what's important is to find a method that you are comfortable with and refine it to make you the most accurate and efficient inspector you can be. I find that keeping a fairly structured routine makes me less likely to miss something, but at the same time, keeps wasted time or repeated motions to a minimum.

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I do use a digital recorder, I just prefer to write some things down. For roofs, attics, and crawl spaces they're unbeatable. I also love 'em for situations where I want to remember a lot more details about I'm looking at; hit the button and describe away.

And the written part keeps shrinking.

Brian G.

Talkin' About Talkin' [:-bigmout

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