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For the sake of this thread lets consider you have a laptop/PDA based reporting system that would allow you deliver your report on site on the day of the inspection.

The idea I want to discuss is adding an addendum section at the end of the report. I think having an addendum would give you a place to list extra notes regarding further research.

Lets say the inspection went well all except for one item that you needed to do some research on before reporting on it. In addition to mentioning that you were unfamiliar you could describe your intentions to follow up in the addendum.

For instance, you see an unfamiliar form of electrical wiring. At the appropriate place in the electrical category you list a note to see the addendum at the back of the report.

In the addendum you describe the situation you need to follow up on and include a time line and the methods by which you will respond.

If you market yourself as being able to deliver on site I think this idea would allow you to stand behind your word while assuring the client in writing that you intend to follow up if needed.

Any thoughts on this idea?

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That is the downside of offering reports on-site (IMHO). Although, there are a lot of inspectors that are very good at delivering reports on-site. I have never had this problem as I do not offer on-site reports. I take lots of pictures and collect data using my tablet PC with Home Gauge software. All inspection reports are completed at my home office where I can reference my books and come to places like this to get answers.

I don't think you want to get into the practice of giving the client an inspection report on-site and then an addendum later on after you have done research on the specific item. To me that is just not good business practice.

As a new inspector it might be easier on yourself if you did not offer on-site reports. Once you have completed a few hundred inspections on your own, you could consider switching. There are variables in the field that your training class is not going to be able to teach you. I guarantee you will come across MANY things in the field that you have not seen before. It has always been my philosophy to be honest with the client when confronted with an item, system or component that I just simply do not have an answer. I tell my clients that I am unsure about this specific situation, but I pledge to find out the answer back at my office. Most people will respect your honesty, rather than making something up or guessing.

Anyways, drop the addendum idea and do your reports at home. A clause could also be put into your inspection agreement that you reserve the right to amend or alter the delivered inspection report up to 48 hours after the inspection, or something like that.

-Kevin

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When I first started, I came home from the jobs, typed up reports, and snail-mailed them.

Later, I started typing the reports up on my laptop while I was at the house.

Advantages of on-site reporting included: (1) If I forgot something, I was still at the house, and able to go back and look at it again. (2) By using my mobile phone as a modem, or by using the homeowner's wireless network, I could get info off the Internet. (I once got a customer a new Lennox furnace that way. If I'd written the report later, the customer would've missed the deadline for a replacement unit.) I've also used the laptop/Internet to find out what an unknown gizmo is. (3) I had code software on the laptop, so I could easily find chapter & verse on defects while I was still at the house, looking at the defects with my own eyes. I could even show the references to the knucklehead builders.(4)I didn't have to fiddle with notes or photos back at the office.

If an inspecting organism can remember what he just saw, and can type/compose accurately on the fly, I don't see a downside to on-site reporting.

BTW, I sent out a few addendums via email. No big deal.

Finally: Ditch the PDA. Type on the laptop. It's quicker, and it does away with redundant data entry.

WJ

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My reports are all delivered on-site. If I don't know something, forgot to put something in the report, want to clarify, or whatever, I type and email an addendum or supplement. If you deliver on-site, it's a good and necessary business practice.

And you don't need a clause giving you the right to add an addendum. If you need to pass on valuable information after the inspection, do it. If it is timely, there is not a client in the world who won't appreciate it.

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Hi,

I did on-site reports for a while, but stopped doing them shortly after I stopped working with an on-site partner, because I do full-narrative reports and it simply took too long to get them out on my own. Walter, you might also elaborate on this, because I remember you telling folks how you and Rick used to tag-team inspections and deliver reports on-site.

Myself and a friend, Steve Johnson, used to utilize a laptop on-site, while each of us wore a voice-activated FM intercom. One of us (usually me) would set up the laptop in the kitchen with a pad of paper and a pen next to the laptop. Whoever was taking the lead (actually doing the walk and talk) that day would set off on the inspection routine with the clients, while the other sat there at the computer eavesdropping on the conversation and putting stuff into the report.

Our inspection process was tailored to match the software we were using, so that as the inspector moved around the home the one working the laptop could key in most of the data from our drop-downs using the boilerplate and then could edit the boilerplate immediately and customize it for the home. It took a little practice. One thing that was key was for Steve and I to make one circuit of the house together before the inspection, so that whichever one of us was working the computer would understand immediately what the other was describing to the clients. Once we got used to the routine and the primary remembered to describe, out loud as he went, the components of the home, we became pretty good at it.

If the one working the computer found himself falling behind, he'd simply jot down a brief shorthand note and finish whatever comment he was working on, before moving to the next and using his notes to catch up. Since the primary would occasionally pause during the walk-n-talk to examine something, the computer operator was usually able to catch up within a few minutes. Because I type very quickly, this was a lot easier for me to do than it was for Steve. Also, his hands were huge. So, even though he knew how to type fairly well, the little keyboard on the laptop used to jamb him up and slow him down.

At the same time, the intercom gave the guy at the computer the ability to coach/train the guy who was inspecting, because the operator was able to talk into the ear of the other guy during the presentation without the clients knowing. I mentored Steve for months before we began that process. He followed me, watching and listening while making notes to himself. Afterward, we'd talk about the inspections and I'd clear up for him those things he didn't understand. Eventually, I started asking him to explain issues to the client in front of me, the way that a doctor might while having an intern examine a patient. As I became confident that he understood components, I began allowing him, one at a time, to inspect components - furnace, water heater, service panel, plumbing, insulation, etc. - and report on them. First it was one per inspection, than two, etc., until I was pretty confident he had a really good grasp of it all. Then I had him sit there at the computer and listen in on how I presented for a few weeks, before I cut him loose on his own as the primary and I took over at the computer. He gained confidence very quickly that way, because the intercom gave me the ability to remind him to look at specific things without interrupting the flow.

It was also great for when the primary was out of sight on a roof, in the attic or in the crawlspace, because he could relay what he was seeing to the clients through the computer operator, giving them a blow-by-blow description of the components and any issues encountered.

Once we had it down, I could usually have the report about 95% complete by the time Steve was climbing out of the crawlspace. At that point, it usually took less than 15 minutes to finish inputting the last of the data, index and paginate the report, print it in color, punch it, comb-bind it with a hard cover, and hand it to the client. During that process, the primary would do an oral recap of the inspection with the clients and ask if they had any questions. This way, we were able to ensure that the clients didn't leave the site with questions on their minds.

I didn't have any code archived on my laptop - I just had all of the CodeCheck books right there and if I had a question I'd quickly flip through them. It was also possible for Steve to say, "Excuse me a second, while I ask Mike to look something up for me," and then he'd ask me over the intercom to check to see if something was a violation of any code. Usually, anticipating the question, I'd already have found the correct citation in one of the CodeChecks. I have to admit, the ability to word-search the code would have been nice. If I couldn't find the answer within a few seconds, he'd just continue on while I continued to look it up and then I'd interrupt him in a few minutes with the answer - or not, if there wasn't any.

I also had about 14 years of JLC archived on my laptop's hard drive. When we had a tricky issue, we could word search it, pull up one or two articles that would help explain the issue for the client, and use them to back up our call. I'd then print those off along with the report and bind them in the report at the end of the inspection.

It was pretty slick. I used to get comments from clients like, "Man, you guys are seriously high-tech." We didn't tell them that both of us were barely able to find the on/off switch on a computer. Unfortunately, after working together for nearly a year, Steve figured out that there was more money fixing stuff for the realtors that need stuff fixed after the inspections. He stopped inspecting and started fixing doors, windows, etc. and that was the end of the experiment.

One of these days I might try and revive it, but I'm going to wait until the voice-activated stuff is a couple of thousand light years beyond where it is now.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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The mixed opinions on this idea make for good debate.

My agreement does have the clause about reserving the right to modify the report within a period of 48 hours. I bought my software and equipment based on the idea of on site delivery so it is well suited for that. I would rather not back peddle from that idea entirely. However, if things seem too difficult on a particular job I could always abandon the on site delivery idea. I could handle it on a case by case basis.

Now if its only one minor issue that just needs a bit more research, I would rather deliver the rest of the report on site and follow up as opposed to calling out a professional on every single thing I dont understand. This is why I would create the addendum in the software. If I need it, it would be there and if not it could be omitted from the printout.

Dont get me wrong. I wont be too proud to say I dont know the answer. Also,the last thing in the world I would do is omit something because I dont know. If after further research I still feel uncomfortable, then I will call out the pro in writing.

Its not making too much extra work. The majority of the time would be spent setting up the software. If I include the elements I need its just a click or two on site then maybe add a word here or there to make the phrase specific.

I do realize the good points mentioned on both sides of the issue so I thank everyone for chiming in. I will keep an open mind and be flexible and prepared to adapt to whatever happens to be the situation.

I still have lots and lots of writing to do in building up my comments library. I am trying to mix up the structure of the sentences and even going as far as writing different sentences regarding the same types of common problems. This way I can select alternating sentence structures as I poke my way through the data collection in an attempt to avoid the repetitive inspector speak style.

For now its PDA but I think I will get one of these to make the typing easier. Poking at the screen with the stylus is quite tedious.

My PDA is Bluetooth wireless cabable and so is this keyboard. Also, Bluetooth is how the report data gets transfered to the printer. Its pretty cool. Its working well so far.

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Let's face it, the decison between off-site / on-site it also hugely a question of lifestyle.

Do you want to be done with your day when you get home or keep going?

For me, I choose to be done (mostly) when I walk in the door and that time belongs to my family.

Also, do a math equation. How many hours a day are you working and how much income did you receive for those hours?

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi,

I did on-site reports for a while, but stopped doing them shortly after I stopped working with an on-site partner, because I do full-narrative reports and it simply took too long to get them out on my own. Walter, you might also elaborate on this, because I remember you telling folks how you and Rick used to tag-team inspections and deliver reports on-site.

Rick and I made one walkaround together, outside and inside the house. Rick made notes on a mini-legal pad (Pocket Docket). After we made a lap around/through the house together, I sat down at the laptop, and Rick continued to check windows, doors, electrical panel, receptacles, faucets, etc. If Rick found defects, he'd write notes on the pad, tear off the pages, and drop them beside the laptop, so I could read them.

Now and then, Rick would come get me, and show me something that I'd understand best by eyeballing, rather than reading his notes.

By the time Rick was done with the crawl space, I was done with the report. I'd take the customers off on the walk & talk, and Rick would sit at the kitchen table print the report(s).

Note: I never inspected and talked at the same time. I told customers that they really didn't want my attention divided, and I wanted to "have the whole house in my head" before I tried to explain it. All customers got it instantly; none complained. Also this: I told customers to show up 90 minutes after me. They cheerfully complied.

When I finished with the walk & talk, Rick would present the finished reports to the customers. They'd have heard my "highlight reel" by then, so they were happy to leave the house without a lot of tedious page-by-page Q&A.

I encouraged all customers to email me with questions, mostly to save idle chit-chat via the phone. I also included a "please email with questions" note in the report.

Generally, we had one minor complaint about every 200 - 250 jobs -- that's effectively a complaint rate of zero.

Of course, one has to charge double the usual HI rate to work with two guys. Up until TN committed to licensing dumb, cheap and compliant HIs (about a year ago), we cherry-picked from an affluent customer base, and did fine with the two-man team.

However, a day came when I just didn't want to inspect houses that were for sale, and I didn't want to market the company anymore. Had other things I wanted to do. So I gave Rick the company. We still work together now and then.

Two things:

(1) Rick would call me on my cell phone and tell me things about the crawl space. That saved a lot of time.

(2) A couple times, when I had to be out sick for a few days, Rick called in the whole inspection. He went to the house, called me, told me what he saw, and I wrote the report, in the comfort of my office. I then emailed the report to the laptop, where Rick printed it out for the customers.

As Randy said, much of an HI's MO is a lifestyle decision. I wanted my workday to be done by 4:30, which is when my wife and daughter came home. I was able to do that. Rick and I also stacked our jobs onto Tues. - Thurs., (two a day) and took a lot of four-day weekends.

It was worth every penny I paid Rick, who now does all the HI work. I attend a job now and then, and spend most of my time working on book projects and EW work.

Hope that helps,

WJ

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Let's face it, the decison between off-site / on-site it also hugely a question of lifestyle.

Do you want to be done with your day when you get home or keep going?

For me, I choose to be done (mostly) when I walk in the door and that time belongs to my family.

Also, do a math equation. How many hours a day are you working and how much income did you receive for those hours?

I want to deliver a good product in the least amount of time possible. Delivering on site can help me do this so I agree with you Randy.

I just want to be able to list an intention to follow up from time to time instead of always sluffing it off. When I do follow up, part of the answer may be........

"After further research on this issue I am not comfortable in concluding that this type of wire splice is acceptable. Therefore, I recommend that you contact a qualified electrician to investigate and repair them if needed".

Now if there are other electrical issues I clearly dont like at the same property I would not bother spending any extra time with follow up on any electrical issues. In that case I would be calling for an electrician on other issues anyway. The unknown splicing techniques would be included in that call out.

I would just hate to alarm people and possibly cause them to waste money on other contractors every time I see something new.

So if it is one unknown issue that needs follow up, I list my intentions to do so in the attached addendum, deliver the rest of the report and collect my payment.

A quick post to get an answer from the trustworthy members on this forum, type up my response to the issue in an email and send it off to the client. Done..no biggie.

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Originally posted by AHI

. . . So if it is one unknown issue that needs follow up, I list my intentions to do so in the attached addendum, deliver the rest of the report and collect my payment. . .

I don't understand why you need an addendum. It seems like an unnecessary complication. Why not just put that information in the part of your report that addresses the relevant system?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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This goes to the heart of what's wrong w/most current inspection reporting systems.

There's the report, then the summary report, then an addendum, and often additional summaries to clarify what the report should have said in the first place.

Or, it's a bunch of boilerplate that obfuscates any real concerns under a trainload of verbiage.

How about a report that's a summary first and foremost? It's all anyone wants anyway.

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"After further research on this issue I am not comfortable in concluding that this type of wire splice is acceptable. Therefore, I recommend that you contact a qualified electrician to investigate and repair them if needed".

Yeesh. That gives me cold chills. Believe me when I tell you, you don't want to go around sounding like you don't know, you're not sure, you can't find out, and you don't know what to say.

Take pictures, get on TIJ, and let somebody who knows (Katen/Mitenbuler) tell you what to say and how to say it. Then just email the customer.

We needn't worry so much how to characterize simple info. Doesn't matter if it's in an addendum, or a supplemental report. Just tell the customers that you'll tell them what's up as soon as you can, then do it.

WJ

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Originally posted by AHI

If an inspector doesnt actually know for sure, you are saying he should hide that fact?

No. How'd you come up with that breakdown in logic?id="blue">

If you really dont know, why is it wrong to say so?

Another breakdown in logic.id="blue">

Im not trying to be argumentative, just curious.

Best thing to do is just get the correct info, from a reliable source, then convey it to the reader. (Journalism 101. Applies here.) Let me suggest the following for further reading: http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

WJid="blue">

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You are right Walter. I do not want to go around acting like I dont know but things dont always go the way we plan. I know there will be times that I dont know something. When that happens, I will not be too proud to say,

"Im sorry I just dont know and I promise I will get back to you"

I could never win a challenge of words with you. If you decide to claim that my statements are not logical, we will have to just agree to dis-agree, respectfully of coarse.

I checked out the link you posted. You trying to make me dizzy? I would be forever trying to comprehend all of that. Im just an average joe. Quit it with the smoke screens huh...[;)]

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Originally posted by AHI

You are right Walter. I do not want to go around acting like I dont know but things dont always go the way we plan. I know there will be times that I dont know something. When that happens, I will not be too proud to say,

"Im sorry I just dont know and I promise I will get back to you"

I could never win a challenge of words with you. If you decide to claim that my statements are not logical, we will have to just agree to dis-agree, respectfully of coarse.

I checked out the link you posted. You trying to make me dizzy? I would be forever trying to comprehend all of that. Im just an average joe. Quit it with the smoke screens huh...[;)]

Nothing smoky about it. It's Logic 101. First-semester college stuff.

It's supposed to teach us stuff like this: If a person doesn't have an answer to a question, it doesn't necessarily follow that he's trying to hide something. It's all about the if/thens.

"Non-sequitur" is Latin for, "it does not follow." HIs, taken as a breed, create a lot of non-sequiturs.

Basic logic is worth knowing, especially for anybody who has to write down findings. It's impossible to make sense with fractured logic.

If a day ever comes when an HI has to defend himself or his opinions in court, he should know that the lawyers and judge will have studied -- and probably will have mastered -- Logic 101 and above.

WJ

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Hi John,

Grammar, idioms, and spelling are obviously critical to the task of writing well. We are fortunate to have a few people on this forum who are expert writers - and one who will patiently teach anyone wanting to learn.

Logic is an equally critical tool for an expert writer. If the link Walter provided previously seems complex, then time should be spent reading it until it feels boring. I am sincere, and not trying to be condescending.

Writing is an art form with a very strong bond to that branch of mathematics called logic. If sentences and paragraphs do not flow logically, then the reader stops reading.

Musicians and other artists often take naturally to logic/philosophy/mathematics because abstract thought is processed by the same region of the brain. There is a classic book, "Godel, Escher and Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid," that reveals the similar thought patterns of the mathematician, artist, and musician respectively.

Look at the best writers on this forum. You will find that they are mathematicians, guitar masters, philosophers, puppeteers and other creative types.

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"If a day ever comes when an HI has to defend himself or his opinions in court, he should know that the lawyers and judge will have studied -- and probably will have mastered -- Logic 101 and above."

I like this statement. My favorite word is the first one, If. Yes it is possible, but hopefully not likely that I would wind up in court.

My problem is I do not have my license yet. I have met the requirements and am waiting for my state to respond to the application process. I have not done any real inspections and am living in an imaginary HI world so to speak. I am doing my best to absorb what I can.

I may seem stubborn on the surface but I am a thirsty sponge willing and wanting to learn. The quality of the things I am learning from the members of this forum is top notch and I didnt pay a dime for it. Thats friggin great I think.

Most of the stuff sinks in rather quickly. I am sure when I get into the real HI world that any points lagging behind will eventually fall into place. My RAM functions well. Issues that did not seem so important when they went in one ear will come to light soon enough.

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