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A failure to communicate


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What we have here is failure to communicate!

The number one problem with home inspectors is the inability to write a report that can be understood and comprehended by the consumer. I have seen countless reports that leave the findings open for interpretation or just don’t make any sense. For years home inspectors have been able to rely on preprinted fill in the blank reports that were created in some aspects to accommodate those that were unable to constrict a complete sentence.

Spelling and sentence construction are important in our profession. We need to be able to explain what we are finding during the inspection in terms that can be understood. I admit that I’m guilty of using improper grammar from time to time in some of my post but in my reporting I strive to produce a report that is mostly error free. Sure I have typos from time to time as we all do, but I proof my reports and then I proof them again and then my wife will spot check them to see how things are looking.

While we’re on the subject of proper reporting, have you ever given much thought as to who is reading your reports? Your client or customer is not the only person who is going to be reading your report. You can put in disclaimers and tell them that they can not show the report to anyone without your permission, but this is kind of like the speed limit sign on the highway. The sign reads “55 mphâ€

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Scott,

I agree with you that the average HI report could and should be better written, but posts on an internet forum?

Everyone thinks they can write well, but precious few actually do. I read a lot, write a little, and could find a few things to pick on in your post, but why? "Let he who is without error in syntax, cast the first stone." I always say.

This is an informal gathering of professionals. I think we can relax the rules a little here, no? Like everyone else, I'm pretty careful when writing reports, but didn't think I'd be held to the same standard in Mike's joint.

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I typically do check my posts and my reports, but it's just reflex for me. I'm naturally picky, I don't have to work at it. I've told more than a few clients that over the phone while trying to sell them without seeming like I'm selling them.

When I deviate from good grammer in a post, it's usually on purpose (comic effect, lazy, etc.). I would agree that the grammatical standard for posts amongst a bunch knot-headed HI's has to be lower than that of a formal report produced for pay, but I have to say that some peoples' posts are in violation of any imaginable standard above 3rd Grade. As is so often the case, those who are the greatest need of frequent practice are the least likely to seize the opportunity. So it is. I certainly wouldn't want to see us picking each others grammer apart, we don't need more discord.

But since the subject has been raised, I definitely know which violation I notice the most, almost daily.

YOUR - possesive, owned by, property of; Your ball, Your car, etc.

YOU'RE - contraction of "You are"; You're going to do this, You're going to do that, etc.

If you aren't sure, ask yourself if you could reasonably substitute "You are" in its place.

Brian G.

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W.J. is Walter Jowers. Walter hangs out on the ASHI board and has his own forum, The Indigators, which is strictly by invitation only. He used to write a regular column in Old House Journal and I've seen his stuff in older issues of JLC. He has a full-time home inspection business and also writes a column, Helter Shelter, for a Nashville paper. I guess he figures that keeps him busy enough.

FUBAR, like snafu, is an old Army saying from WWII. It stands for F**ked Up Beyond All Recovery (Some say reproach, some say redemption. It's six of one and half a dozen of the other.).

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thanks Mike,

I've read everything by Walter Jowers that I could find. I can't believe I didn't make that connection. I have the issue of JLC from 1987 or 1988 where Walter explained how to install a terne coated steel roof; it was the only instruction I had when I did my copper roof.

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To tell you the truth I thought it was recognition! Thanks Mr. Mike.

BTW Chad, Walter, correct me if I'm wrong guys, use to be the editor of a newspaper and has a solid grasp of the Kings English. Below is cut from an ASHI post to give you a little insight on the persona.

****

Pardon my jumping in (again), but since we addressed "economic life," we might as well take on "granulation loss."

That's a nonsense phrase. Granulation would be a process, specifically the forming of granules. We're talking about granule loss.

If we want to use a fancy-sounding word for what we're seeing, it would be "degranulation."

WJ

****

This is a small snipit from the topic but you get the idea. If you're open to change, without feeling like it's a personal attack, this guy can really raise the bar.

Back in 2003 he was the guest speaker, at the national ASHI conference, on correct report writing.

He's a pisser.

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Scott,

I think in paragraph 4 of your post, sentence 4 the 14th word should have been posts not post. We can't all be perfect. My Grandchildren think I am. They will find out the truth soon enough.

Chad,

If you want to read W.J.'s stuff go to http://www.nashvillescene.com run a search for Walter Jowers and enjoy. I've got it on my favorites.

NORM SAGE

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I agree totally with what you said, which is why most home inspectors would be doing their clients, themselves and the entire HI industry a world of good by not writing so much garbage and stick to the basics. For example:

(1) The window latch at the hall bath is missing. Repair as needed.

(2) The GFCI outlet to the right of the kitchen sink is defective and will not trip. Have a licensed electrician repair or replace it.

(3) The air conditioning unit ran, but did not produce cool air. Have a licensed HVAC contractor repair or replace as needed.

I'm amazed at how many new inspectors think they need to tell the buyer the history of indoor plumbing, when they spot a toilet leak.

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DLRAMBO:

Admittedly, I think I tend to put "too much verbage" in my reports too. However, I think it is because I am green to the HI industry and just want to ensure I am being as thorough as I can.

I can't afford E&O insurance yet and also can't afford a lawsuit. Admittedly, a bad situation to be in. I think my "too much info" is ok for me for now. It at least makes me feel a bit better. I am sure time and experience will allow me to feel more comfortable with less verbage.

I can appreciate where you are coming from though.

Dan

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DLRAMBO:

Admittedly, I think I tend to put "too much verbage" in my reports too. However, I think it is because I am green to the HI industry and just want to ensure I am being as thorough as I can.

I can't afford E&O insurance yet and also can't afford a lawsuit. Admittedly, a bad situation to be in. I think my "too much info" is ok for me for now. It at least makes me feel a bit better. I am sure time and experience will allow me to feel more comfortable with less verbage.

I can appreciate where you are coming from though.

Dan

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