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While doing inspections you may have the client following you around asking you questions as you proceed. You might be providing verbal information to them as you find things you intend to include in the written report.

In an attempt to be helpful to the client, you might say a bit more verbally than you would actually put in writing. Are you as careful about what you say in person as opposed to what you will actually put in writing?

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Sometimes I talk more than I write. Its helpful, if a client wishes, for me to offer some additional reasoning for my finding, maybe a little history or a story behind the issue.

I'll write: "There's water in the crawlspace. Get rid of it"

I'll say: the consequences of water buildup, how the builder or seller might try to convince them that, "this is Seattle--there's always water in crawlspace" is not a legitimate argument, what it may take to get rid of it, etc.

But, I'm still careful not to contradict myself.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

I'll write: "There's water in the crawlspace. Get rid of it"

I'll say: ...what it may take to get rid of it, etc.

That's pretty simplistic. Don't you identify, or try to identify the water source? If not, how, and why, do you *discuss* how you might get rid of it? Is it from plumbing leakage, AC condensate leakage, foundation leakage, ground water perking up, bad grade causing water to pour over the top of the foundation, humidity/ventilation problems, etc?

Why wouldn't you also write what it may take to get rid of it?

Wouldn't the client appreciate some direction, and wouldn't they want to know if this is in the range of a hundred dollar repair or in the thousands?

If you told me there was water in the crawl space, and to get rid of it, I'd want to know how and if it will cost a lot or a little. Or do you simply recommend review by a qualified, professional water-getting-rid-of company?

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Well, the inspection is about educating the client about the house, no? So, why wouldn't you spill your guts as long as the client was asking. That being said, if I do get long winded about something I do have a discussion with the client as to how things actually get reported on in a report. Lucky them for coming along to see & hear the unabridged version.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Originally posted by randynavarro

I'll write: "There's water in the crawlspace. Get rid of it"

I'll say: ...what it may take to get rid of it, etc.

That's pretty simplistic. Don't you identify, or try to identify the water source?

I'm being simplistic for the sake of this thread and addressing the question posed. My reports contain more information than what I've stated.

The point is I may talk a lot more than I'll write.

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Originally posted by AHI

While doing inspections you may have the client following you around asking you questions as you proceed. You might be providing verbal information to them as you find things you intend to include in the written report.

In an attempt to be helpful to the client, you might say a bit more verbally than you would actually put in writing. Are you as careful about what you say in person as opposed to what you will actually put in writing?

I made it a habit to say -- and write -- just as much as I needed to say and write. I'm about as good at one as I am the other.

A nitpick: "Verbal" can be construed as meaning the same thing as "written." If one wants to be precise, one would call talking "oral" or "spoken" communication. I prefer "spoken" since the word "oral" is now shorthand for something not necessarily related to the, uh, job.

WJ

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Hi,

From day one, I've called my inspections 'The School of the House.' It's an instructive walk and talk. They get shown what's wrong, learn why it's wrong, learn what they can do to prevent the issue, and they're given one or two recommendations how to fix it. At the same time, I give them some basic instruction on how to maintain their home. Then, everything I tell them goes into a written report.

A lot of my clients are from various Asian countries with the majority of those being from China, so I've learned how to explain things in simple terms and I help them understand most concepts using various analogies. I discourage them from trying to take notes because it slows me down and distracts them. I want them paying attention to the instruction. That way, when they see the issue in their report, they'll instantly understand what's written there, why it's there, and what to do about it.

The narrative writing approach is, in my opinion, better, because it provides the client a better understanding of the issue and what to do about it than an 8 word zinger can. I've had many dozens of architects, engineers and contractors over the years and every one of them told me that they'd learned something during the process. It must be working, because I only use photographs in my reports in extremely rare circumstances and it's pretty rare that I get a call from anyone asking me what I meant when I wrote something in a report.

Other than someone calling me for information on how to select a new furnace or to ask me where they can find information about upgrades, I haven't had a client call to complain about anything in years. In fact, in 11+ years, I've yet to have had to sit down to an arbitration table with an unhappy client.

Maybe it suits me because the hands-on running narrative training approach we used in the military was always far superior to cooping someone up in a classroom with a book. It's certainly not an approach that I'd advocate for everyone - especially if you're not comfortable teaching or adept at it - but it works for me. I don't plan on changing my approach anytime soon.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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From these posts it sounds like I may be one of the few who actually request that the client not follow me around during the inspection. I explain to them that it is for their own good since I am not a multi- tasker. They get a better report as a result with less chance for error. They are almost always happy to oblige. Of course, once I go through this spiel, I do let them know that they do have the right to follow me around, but.....

This approach has always worked for me, and it actually seems to make them happy that I care so much about the job at hand.

I do walk all my clients that can be present through the entire home at the end of the inspection and let them know what I found and ensure there are no questions prior to leaving-- have not received so much as a complaint from anyone on the purchasing side (have had some buyers agents disappear for a year or two until they happen to be purchasing their own home-- hmmmm.)

I used to allow clients to follow me around, but it just did not work for me. Plus, as far as I am concerned it is better to have an entire picture of the home prior to discussing any issues. I am not sure about others out there, but my opinions regarding deficiencies may change during the inspection of the home and I dislike having to tell someone I changed my mind on something.

Just my 2 cents

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

From these posts it sounds like I may be one of the few who actually request that the client not follow me around during the inspection.

Heck, put me down on your side of the fence on this one. I encourage customers to show up about 4 hours after I begin inspecting. When I'm done, I'll go through the report, do a walk & talk through the house and answer any questions they've got.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The second time through the house do you go back into the attic and crawlspace, take all the panels off the whatever, to show them exactly what you found?

I hear lots of complaints from realtors about inspectors who don't allow them to participate in the inspection.

"I am not sure about others out there, but my opinions regarding deficiencies may change during the inspection of the home and I dislike having to tell someone I changed my mind on something."

I will tell the buyers on certain issues that I am reserving judgement until I can see the whole picture. Works for me.

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Originally posted by Neal Lewis

The second time through the house do you go back into the attic and crawlspace, take all the panels off the whatever, to show them exactly what you found?

I hear lots of complaints from realtors about inspectors who don't allow them to participate in the inspection.

"I am not sure about others out there, but my opinions regarding deficiencies may change during the inspection of the home and I dislike having to tell someone I changed my mind on something."

I will tell the buyers on certain issues that I am reserving judgement until I can see the whole picture. Works for me.

FWIW, for the last 14 years of my HI career, I had the real estate agents trained to inform all customers to show up 90 minutes to 2 hours after I show up.

No complaints. All the real estate ladies did was say something like, "Walter will explain everything at the end."

Of course, I rarely saw those real estate ladies who think the HI's job is to show everybody the water shutoff valve.

Anecdote: When I was young(er) and dumb(er), I told customers and a real estate lady that I had to take a look at the crawl space, but I was sure everything would be fine. When I got down there, I found the house held up by metal posts with big red labels that said: "Not for use in new construction."

Now what HI wants to be stuck in a crawl space with customers hanging over his shoulder, waiting to hear the downside of having house held up by bootleg posts?

That's the kind of stuff I want to see all by myself, so I can cogitate on my explanation...

WJ

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

From these posts it sounds like I may be one of the few who actually request that the client not follow me around during the inspection.

Heck, put me down on your side of the fence on this one. I encourage customers to show up about 4 hours after I begin inspecting. When I'm done, I'll go through the report, do a walk & talk through the house and answer any questions they've got.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Hi Jim,

You know, I've tried that a few times, but found that I just substantially increased my time on-site. It might have had something to do with the fact that two of the 3 or 4 times I tried it the clients were foreign nationals working in the U.S. who tended to focus more on the minutia more.

I find that they're usually trying to take notes. I discourage it, but there's always someone doing it anyway, because they know that they won't get a report from me until the following day and they want to discuss their anticipated course of action today - ergo, the note taking. It seems like it took less time for them to compile their lists during the walk-n-talks.

For me, I'm looking, analyzing and explaining at the same time. It does take me longer to get through the electrical panel doing that than it would if I did it on my own, but if I had to then take them back through and teach them what I'd seen, I think it would slow me up.

I'm not shy about stating something and then having to back off from it later on in the inspection. I prep folks for that up front. I tell them that the inspection isn't over until I'm packing my truck ,and that it's possible that something that I'll see and conclude early in the process might easily change by the end of the process; in fact, that's quite often the case. So what?

I'm guessing that I can do my walk and talk faster than Walter or Jim can, but that they can do the inspect without customers and then walk them through thing faster than I can.

In the end, John, I think that your answer is that you have to develop a process that you're comfortable with and then stick to it; changing it only when absolutely necessary.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Neal Lewis

The second time through the house do you go back into the attic and crawlspace, take all the panels off the whatever, to show them exactly what you found?

If there's something that's easy to see and understand behind a panel, I'll leave the panel off till they get there. Then, after showing it to them, I'll put the cover back on. It's the same with attics, if there's something interesting and accessible to see, I'll leave the step ladder in place or the access door open and show it to them as we go through the house. Customers rarely want to crawl through crawlspaces but if they do, I suggest they come by a little earlier - I always crawl through the crawlspace last. They're welcome to accompany me.

I hear lots of complaints from realtors about inspectors who don't allow them to participate in the inspection.

I'd never let a realtor dictate my method of inspection. That said, what I hear is, "This is so much nicer than having to sit around for 4 or 5 hours."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by Neal Lewis

I'd never let a realtor dictate my method of inspection. That said, what I hear is, "This is so much nicer than having to sit around for 4 or 5 hours."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

That's interesting,

Here, the realtors are afraid to leave an inspector alone on-site, because the MLS will fine them for doing so. About 2-3 years ago, they fined some realtor $5,000 for doing just that. Ever since, most won't leave me there alone. There are some that still do, though.

So, around here your scenario would have most of the realtors sitting there anyway. You can bet your bippy they'd be able to get a head start on their damage control speeches if they knew what was going to be reported before the client arrives.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

Here, the realtors are afraid to leave an inspector alone on-site, because the MLS will fine them for doing so. About 2-3 years ago, they fined some realtor $5,000 for doing just that. Ever since, most won't leave me there alone. There are some that still do, though.

So, around here your scenario would have most of the realtors sitting there anyway. You can bet your bippy they'd be able to get a head start on their damage control speeches if they knew what was going to be reported before the client arrives.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

As I understand it, the realtor just has to receive the seller's permission to leave me alone in the house. That's what generally happens.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Around here the Realtor is rarely at the inspection. They don't even want to come open the door.

My clients are always welcome to come go thought the inspection with me. A lot of them do. To me it is easier to show as I go. I also take photos of everything and show them at the end of the inspection. This lets my client see the areas they do not go in and show the items to the ones that come at the end of the inspection.

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My take is similar to Brandon, Walter and Jim's. In fact, my standard line when people say they want to follow me around is, "Being a man, I'm genetically incapable of multi-tasking, so if I try to keep up a running dialogue while I'm checking out the house, I'm gonna miss some things." This generally elicits giggles and helps people understand.

I take several passes around different areas of a house to mitigate my chances of missing stuff, all the while dictating and snapping photos. Even a silent someone following me around would be distracting.

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Continuing the drift...

I've never had a realtor stay for an inspection, not once, and thank goodness. Clients have, but not more than 8 or 10 in almost 6 years. I'd rather they didn't come along, for the reasons others have mentioned. I like to work in peace. I work better that way.

Back on topic...

When a client is there I'm certainly going to say more than I write.

Brian G.

Talking Is Fast, Typing Is Slow (for me) [:-cyclops

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I'm guessing that I can do my walk and talk faster than Walter or Jim can, but that they can do the inspect without customers and then walk them through thing faster than I can.

Mike

Probably so. But as you'll recall, I worked with a co-inspector, so all phases of the job were about three times faster than normal.

I freely confess: I'm just too damn grouchy to walk around a house do Q&A with people about every little thing.

I did the only thing I could do: find a way to get the job done without getting grouchy. That meant holding comments to the end. Now co-inspector Rick, who is never grouchy and nobody hates, doesn't mind taking buyers on a tour. If customers ever tried to follow me around, I'd wander off and let them walk around with Rick.

I'm telling you, there's nothing better than having a perfect assistant for 14 years. I'm the luckiest mostly-retired HI in the world.

WJid="blue">

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In fact, my standard line when people say they want to follow me around is, "Being a man, I'm genetically incapable of multi-tasking, so if I try to keep up a running dialogue while I'm checking out the house, I'm gonna miss some things." This generally elicits giggles and helps people understand.

Holy smokes John, that is almost word for word part of my spiel and it works great for me.

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I like and use Brandons approach. I break up the inspection into segments. Outside-basement- first ,second? and attic. I invite the buyers etc for a Q&A after my spiel after each segment. This prevents debates from the owners/brokers.

Boston area Realtors generally do not engage me in technical discussions about the house. I only do one a day, so I have enough time for Buyers Q&A[:-banghea

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