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Each of us has our unique reporting method.

Some merely itemize all the "bad" items that warrant attention.

Some also include the "good" things.

I am in this category. I do it to let the client know in writing what I checked and that things are functional and working like they should.

For instance, on the roof, I'll itemize the following:

The visible flashing looks good

The visible penetrations look good.

The skylights (if present)look good.

The condition of the shingle (or other material) looks good.

The gutters look good.

Etc., etc.

Then I will detail the items that need attention or repair, if any.

For those of you that do not itemize the "good" things, what do you say when there aren't any "bad" things?

Other than describing the type of roof, how you inspected it, etc., is the report blank in this area?

Further, if the whole house is in really good shape, and there are merely maintenance items and maybe some minor fix-its, I assume your report would be really small?

In working through (yet again) my report writing methods, I'm trying to determine if writing the "good" stuff is worth it.

I know its beneficial for the client--they alway want to know, "How's the roof?" "How much longer will it last?"

Trouble is its extra work, I'm not sure that people really read all that stuff, (they just want to know what's wrong), and it raises my liability.

What do you do?

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Originally posted by allspec33351

It's never happened to me, I always seem to find things.

Captain

Mitchell, I always find things as well.

I'm assuming your report is broken down into sections?

In your, say, Electrical section, if there are no defects to write about, does your client just see a page that says "200 amp, Main panel in the garage, Romex wiring etc.?"

Do you not comment on the condition of anything?

And if the rest of the place is in good shape with no defects to write about, your client basically just gets a handful of pages that just says the type of everything and how you inspected it? No further information?

Not trying to be argumentative, just seeing what others do so I can make some reasonable changes.

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Randy,

The attached is a "standard" electrical page, assuming no issues. Generally, if I test or inspect a component, appliance or area I'm going to say something about it, but that might simply be "No concerns were discovered" depending on the object.

"For instance, on the roof, I'll itemize the following:

The visible flashing looks good

The visible penetrations look good.

The skylights (if present)look good.

The condition of the shingle (or other material) looks good.

The gutters look good.

Etc., etc. "

I can't say I'm crazy about all the "look good"s. Does that mean they are simply attractive or are they actually functional? How about "All visible roof penetrations have been flashed in an appropriate manner" or "The gutters are in good condition and reasonably clean"?

One way of improving the wording might be to imagine what you would actually say to the client if they were standing there at the end of a component inspection.

Download Attachment: icon_paperclip.gif ElectricalNoIssues.pdf

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I've never reported on stuff if it's OK. I describe materials and their locations, and I describe defects or concerns.

If I was unable to find any defect in the electrical system, I'd tell them "The electrical system was in satisfactory condition".

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When I submitted inspections for review while joining one of the HI organizations, I failed in the first attempt because I did not list things that were OK.

Example...One of the things the reviewer said I did wrong was that I did not inspect the vegetation. I replied that I did inspect the vegetation, but that the SOP for the organization only required reporting vegetation that would impact the structure, and this home had no vegetation that fell into that category. He answered that if I omit an indication that I inspected it and it was fine, then the client has no indication that I inspected it.

I argued with him a bit. My contention was that if the SOP wanted me to report it as OK, then the SOP should say so. He argued that it was implied. I complained to the organization HQ, got know where, stubbornly refused to proceed with membership for several months, then relaxed, added all the BS, and resubmitted some inspections (along with more money). I have left all of the things like that in my report.

So now my report has a heading for every item that is required to be inspected in the SOP. If it is OK, then it says "Serviceable" or "Functional" next to it.

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If inspectors would report on everything they see instead of deficient items we would have less problems as a whole.

You can't assume that an item was inspected if it is omitted from a report. In fact, most assume that an item was not inspected if it is not reported on.

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Words that should never be used within reports:

Marginal – what mean?

Appears – it is or it ain’t

Good – a totally subjective word - would you say the roof covering is bad?

Exactly who determines if it’s applicable?

The Golden Rule of reporting: Report the current condition of everything you see and report everything you could not see and why you couldn’t see it.

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Thanks for the input.

The sample verbiage I gave above is not what I use in reports. I only used the short sentences, "The visible flashing looks good" to make my point that I write about the "correct" component.

My actual report language goes something like; "I looked at all the visible flashing(s) around the roof deck. They look to be correctly installed and are in good condition"

Jerry M, I stay away from the word "appears" as much as possible, but isn't the reality that what "appears" to be good, may not be?

By your rules, my use of the word "good" above is not a good idea?

What are some words you would use to state the current condition of items?

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Hi,

I'm sorry, Scott, but I disagree. Using Richard's report as an example, there's really no need for him to state that he's tested those receptacles and that he found them functioning normally. His description of the electrical system is sufficient to meet the requirements of any of the SOP's and the fact that he tests receptacles in every job he does is a given. If he'd not found any electrical anomalies in that house, the fact that he's described the system in such detail proves that he's looked at it and there's no point in stating the obvious - the obvious being that the system was functioning okay or he would have written something about any deficiencies found.

It's like saying, "The roof cover is functional and hasn't got any leaks." Well, of course it's functional and hasn't got any leaks if you haven't reported that it's worn out, has defects or you found leaks. What's the point of stating the obvious?

Then there's this. There's a ton of stuff we can't see going on in a house. If I'm in the habit of reporting on only the defects that I find, and not reporting that everything is fine when I don't see anything wrong, I'm not painting a target on my wallet. If I say, "The plumbing system is functional without defects," and there's a rust scab on a pipe someplace which bursts after the inspection, I might as well get out the checkbook, because I told them that everything was fine. Now, If I'd only described the system and said, "I did not find any readily evident reportable defects with the plumbing," I might have a little more leeway, because instead of declaring that everything is fine, I've said that I didn't find anything to report in readily evident areas. Still, I'm taking a chance, because it gives the reader the impression that I'm putting my stamp of approval on it.

We aren't hire to state that everything is fine when it is; we're hired to report on viewable defects that are readily apparent at the time and date of the inspection. Instead of putting out stamp of approval on houses, we should stick to describing the components that we're required to inspect and describe in our reports and report only the defects that we find.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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How about just "inspected" when you inspected something and did not find a problem to report?

It is mandated here, so I know it works and I have never had an issue come up.

We are required to use the state format which includes check boxes for each general section for: Inspected, Not Inspected, Not Present, or Not Fuctioning/In need of repair.

Jim

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Yes, in looking at the ASHI standards, its pretty clear what to inspect.

Trouble is, its not clear what to actually tell the client, other than "200 amp panel in the garage, romex wiring, and there's smoke detectors."

Does it really take a professional to tell the client that? Is this the ASHI Experience? (no bashing here, I'm ASHI)

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

...Using Richard's report as an example, there's really no need for him to state that he's tested those receptacles and that he found them functioning normally. His description of the electrical system is sufficient to meet the requirements of any of the SOP's and the fact that he tests receptacles in every job he does is a given. ....

Mike, I agree with you in principle, but to defend the line "All accessible receptacles were tested and showed proper polarity and grounding."; the emphasis is on the word "accessible". Just trying to report what I didn't do as well. I should point out that I grabbed the sample from my new (empty) house template. A more typical report would read...

"All (other*) accessible receptacles were tested and showed proper polarity and grounding. I do not move furniture or appliances or unplug any electronic devices and therefore some receptacles may be untested."

(*"other" used when I have previously reported a receptacle problem)

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Hi Richard,

Please, don't be offended. I wasn't picking on the fact that you reported that - only trying to make my case for why I think it isn't necessary.

There are lots of ways to do this business. It's always going to be like that until some kind of nationally recognized common standard exists that spells out more clearly what's required and what isn't required, instead of the amalgam of standards being touted now by more than a half dozen alleged "professional" associations.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Jerry M, I stay away from the word "appears" as much as possible, but isn't the reality that what "appears" to be good, may not be?

Of course. If there's anyone here who can always determine the exact details of every situation they see while inspecting, they're working under far better circumstances than I normally am. Otherwise you'll to have to say "appears to be" now and then, or some substitute for it. Stating an educated guess as hard fact is risky and misleading. I think my report language should make it clear to my client whether I know something for sure, or if I'm making an educated guess based on the indications I have.

Right now I say something about everything I look at, even if it's just "No problems noted". I'm looking to revisit the whole format issue myself, to get more efficient and reduce the overall volume of the report. I'm thinking I'll reduce most of the "no problem" items in a given section to one or two quick sentences at the end of that section.

"I also inspected the blah-blah, the boo-blah, and the blah-boo-blah. I didn't find anything wrong with them."

Or something like that. Major items will probably still get their own breif comments. I'll always want to say more about something like an electrical panel than the standards require. My 2 cents worth.

Brian G.

Reporting Is Half of the Job [:-sonar]

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I guess it all boils down to what you want to tell your client. I just try to tell my client what I have looked at and what I have not looked at. I have found that it reduces calls and questions.

If I can't see something I snap a picture and tell why I could not inspect whatever it is. I don't leave it up for folks to assume that I inspected something when in fact I did not.

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As a start, if a report verifier for ASHI tells you that your report doesn't conform, there is a reasonable likelihood that the verifier is wrong.

This is a common complaint of a few excellent folks I know that tried to join ASHI, and kept having problems w/their report verification. Heck, one of them is using Cramerware (past ASHI prez, system fully compliant, etc.), he's a degreed Building Scientist from Auburn, he's brilliant, and he can't get his reports verified. One of the sticking points was the "verifier" insisted on some idiotic aspect of how one reports on the kitchen countertops. The countertops! And, the verifier was wrong. After proving the verifier wrong, the applicant was asked to resubmit his report; he was not approved. Basically, they ran the guy around in circles instead of approving his (correct) report.

Personally, I think the report verification component of ASHI is "broken", and fixing it will take an act of God, because our coagulated Bylaws prevent anything intelligent from being implemented in any time frame < a couple years.

In the ASHI SOP, there are requirements for inspecting certain things, and there are requirements for describing certain things, and the 2 don't necessarily always go together. As an example, under #10/Interior, it says the inspector shall inspect items xxxxxxx, and it states what the inspector is not required to inspect, but it doesn't tell us what to report or describe. Are we required to report & describe even though it doesn't indicate we should do so? Common sense (if there is such a thing) tells me I should talk about items, but if it's a SOP, don't you think it should indicate a standard of reporting?

When it tells us to inspect stairs (for example), it doesn't tell us we have to report or describe them. We only have to inspect them.

Where is the requirement for us to describe all the things that are "OK"?

FTR, I think all the SOP's are pathetically political documents, tiptoeing along the garden wall dividing all the various vested interests & their reporting systems. They are written for the lowest common denominators, for the guys that can't read, write, or apply critical thinking skills; that way, membership #'s can be maintained.

SOP's are useful guidelines, but that's about it.

This job is not complicated, it's just hard & dirty. If one actually inspects the way they're supposed to, the highest probability is defects will be discovered. Upon discovery, they can be reported. I haven't run down the checklist of all the stuff I look @ that is OK at any point in my career, and there has never been an instance when a customer complained.

(I have certainly had complaints, but it was not when I didn't talk about what wasn't there, it was when I made an incorrect statement or otherwise blew it.)

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Your reporting method depends somewhat on where you are doing business. This is directly from the Arizona Board of Technical Registration website:

Respondent failed to note, or did not

sufficiently note the following

components: second-level floor

structure, wall structure of exterior decks,

balconies, railing and steps, functional

drainage, main over-current protection

device, amperage, interior floors, attic

ventilation and roof drainage systems.

Letter of Reprimand

Peer Review of Respondents next

three (3) home inspection reports,

including pre-inspection contracts.

Registration Respondent shall

maintain a current registration at all

times during his peer review.

Open Book Test , Take and

successfully complete an open book

test on the Boards statutes and rules.

Respondent noted the following items were in need of immediate major repair,

however, Respondent failed to make

recommendations to correct, monitor or

have evaluated by the appropriate persons

for the remedy of the following adverse

condition: a defective seal in the upper

living room window, a crack in the

fireplace brick, moisture stains on the

ceiling of the garage, a piggy backed

circuit in the electrical service panel and

a broken roof tile.

Cost of Investigation Pay cost of

investigation in the amount of $270.00.

He didn't report that there was a second story! Do you think he missed that, do you think the buyer didn't know there was a second story? He got nailed for a bunch of stuff that was OK but he didn't report on.

He reported a bad window seal (in an upper story window, come to think of it), a cracked brick and a double tap as in need of immediate repair but didn't say it should be further evaluated or monitored! What part of Immediate repair do they not understand? How hard is it for the client to figure out what type of service should be called to repair a damaged window?

We don't have the luxury of not reporting the things that are fine.

BTW, the standards are identical to ASHI and the standards committee is ASHI guys.

Posted by Kurt: "I've never reported on stuff if it's OK. I describe materials and their locations, and I describe defects or concerns.

"If I was unable to find any defect in the electrical system, I'd tell them "The electrical system was in satisfactory condition"."

This sounds like reporting to me.

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Very interesting. Well, if one is inspecting in AZ, one has to do what the AZ folks say. In Illinois, I think it says something about describing all the plumbing fixtures (regardless of function); someday I'll probably get a reprimand for not describing them.

Is it OK to have a single statement in the report along the lines of .....

"Any of the listed defects or concerns in this report should have an appropriate licensed contractor or technician reinspect the items & provide additional analysis, specifications for repair (if necessary), and the approximate cost."

IOW, can you say it once as an all encompassing recommendation, or do you have to list it for every listed defect in the report?

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Thats pretty close to what I do, the first line of the report reads:

"Items noted in the report in need of service, repair or replacement should be addressed prior to close of escrow by a licensed contractor or technician in the appropriate field to fully determine the extent of the issue and costs involved in repair or replacement." Can't tell you if it holds water, hopefully I will never find out.

I also slip in a few lines like "Unless otherwise noted in the report, all gas appliances have individual gas shut off valves installed at the appliance."

It gets pretty ridiculous. "The front door is in need of painting. Full evaluation and repainting by a licensed painting contractor is recommended."

Unfortunately, when you get bureaucrats involved in something that they have no clue about, this is what you get. If there ever is a national standard, you can be pretty sure it will be garbage like this. Be careful what you wish for.

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Originally posted by kurt

FTR, I think all the SOP's are pathetically political documents, tiptoeing along the garden wall dividing all the various vested interests & their reporting systems. They are written for the lowest common denominators, for the guys that can't read, write, or apply critical thinking skills; that way, membership #'s can be maintained.

SOP's are useful guidelines, but that's about it.

I agree with that assessment 100%. I'd love to see HI standards in law that would make a realtor-loving buckethead squirm like an earthworm on a hot sidewalk, but I'm not holding my breath.

Brian G.

SOP = Same Old Politics [8]

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