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I have decided to shelve my boilerplate HI software and go with narrative reports written in MS word, then converted to PDF before distributing. I think a laptop would be helpful to me. I am considering selling the equipment that drives my previous method. It consists of the following:

HP 2495b PDA

HP Bluetooth wireless keyboard

HP 460 Bluetooth printer

This stuff is practically new and has carrying cases and extra cartridges and all the included accessories. The retail cost of this stuff new is about $800. I figure I might be able to get $500 for this stuff on ebay. I also have the HI software package but I choose not to put a value on that.

Currently there is one desktop computer in my house which everyone is in competition to use including business. I figure the laptop designated primarily for business will relieve some tension. It would also allow me to carry IRC on CD and other helpful data with me on the road.

What's your opinion? It's not that I'm indecisive but can any of you give me a good reason why I shouldn't sell this stuff and get a laptop?

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...can any of you give me a good reason why I shouldn't sell this stuff and get a laptop?

Nope. Not if you've made your mind up. I made the "mistake" of thinking I was going to be very high tech (read on-site) when I first started and bought an Acer tablet PC for that purpose even before my training course. By the time I got to my first paid inspection I had abandoned the whole idea of on-site reporting. Nothing necessarily wrong with it...just not for me. Now word/pdf/upload/e-mail.

My bigger mistake was not selling the tablet before it became an $2000 obsolete paper weight (albeit a tax write-off). 5+ years later, I've still got it. It gets used, maybe, 2 or 3 times a year to watch slide shows on TV!!!

I like my desk-top with a widescreen 21" monitor and, fortunately, only have to compete with the wife. I also like a full size key-pad and would probably add a wireless one to a lap-top if I went that way.

Good luck on E-bay.

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I know the feeling. I jumped right in with a Commadore 64, Sony Triniton tv screen, TI 1220 9pin printer, and all the other stuff; cassettes, box of micro perf paper, spare ribbons, and an extra transformer. "pooping in TALL cotton!"

Invested in a TI99.

Upgraded to a portable Zenith with a 23lb power pack.

Damn Windows came out!

Re-learned on an orange monitor - the color screens made me dizzy!

now I got 8-10 compooooters and don't know crap about them other than they make my life better.

I still print my notes with a red pentel pen and every truck I own has at least one or fifteen red ink spots on the passenger side seat.

Fact: my best reports were done at the office sitting in the clutter, smokin cigs, drinking coffee and looking out the window at the garden. They very best ones are the same ones that I did not want to do or I really did not like my client.

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I have moved in the opposite direction from where the majority of the inspectors appear to be heading. I use a tablet on site, fill out my report onsite and deliver it onsite at the conclusion. I have set up my business model as one in which I do the inspection, complete the report, immediately deliver it and receive payment. I choose not to add extra time or work at home. I entered this profession 12 years ago to do quality work and have a quality life. Working at home at night after a day of inspecting is not how I choose to run my business or conduct my life. I use a Toshiba tablet, a HP wireless 460. That's it. This works for me. Hope this may be of some help.

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Originally posted by Sal

I have moved in the opposite direction from where the majority of the inspectors appear to be heading. I use a tablet on site, fill out my report onsite and deliver it onsite at the conclusion. I have set up my business model as one in which I do the inspection, complete the report, immediately deliver it and receive payment. I choose not to add extra time or work at home. I entered this profession 12 years ago to do quality work and have a quality life. Working at home at night after a day of inspecting is not how I choose to run my business or conduct my life. I use a Toshiba tablet, a HP wireless 460. That's it. This works for me. Hope this may be of some help.

I have seen the the exact opposite in the markets I work in. Inspectors are getting away from on site reports. They are emailing the reports within a few hours after the inspection.

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Originally posted by Scottpat

Originally posted by Sal

I have moved in the opposite direction from where the majority of the inspectors appear to be heading. I use a tablet on site, fill out my report onsite and deliver it onsite at the conclusion. I have set up my business model as one in which I do the inspection, complete the report, immediately deliver it and receive payment. I choose not to add extra time or work at home. I entered this profession 12 years ago to do quality work and have a quality life. Working at home at night after a day of inspecting is not how I choose to run my business or conduct my life. I use a Toshiba tablet, a HP wireless 460. That's it. This works for me. Hope this may be of some help.

I have seen the the exact opposite in the markets I work in. Inspectors are getting away from on site reports. They are emailing the reports within a few hours after the inspection.

I'm close to Scott. I have given an "unedited" summary onsite but NEVER have given the report. The printer in the truck is for a report cover that goes in the presentation package. AM inspection - sit down, order lunch, edit, look up, insert photos, review, spellcheck and send. Pay the check. PM - Put the kid to bed, Mommie daddie time, edit, look up, insert photos, review, spellcheck and send. Unless it's a beast of a report. I try to have it out by 8AM the next day.

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I get the impression that many inspectors are moving away from onsite reports. It would not work in my situation. I find that with the numbers we do ("did" prior to the chaos of this market)) (I have 2 partners) and the time constraints of the contract , we would be overwhelmed in the evening with reports to put together and deliver in a timely fashion. I have always been comfortable with creating, editing and printing onsite. Our HP 460 will print 2 full copies of the report in less than 2 minutes. I reiterate, my business model isn't for everyone but it has worked effectively and competetively for me for the past 12 years.

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I don't do the same inspection and report I did two years ago. . . or the two years before that . . . or the two years before that.

I learn more, look at things differently (and more), and write better (I hope). Ultimately, it ends up being more time. I spent 4.5 hours on a job today that I would've spent 3.5 hrs. two years ago. That's producing the report on site.

As Sal has alluded, this business has afforded me a unique lifestyle. Its about time. The bummer for me is, the more time I spend on site is less time for family and me. And I'm not necessarily charging more (as a percentage).

So, my conflict: take more time doing inspections and reports (for almost the same money) and rob me and family of that priceless asset called time OR figure a way to shorten the whole process.

I also wonder: what is this thing called a home inspection? SOP's give a minimal framework of the scope of an inspection, but why does one guy take 2.5 hours and the other takes 5.5 hours? Where's the cap?

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Randy,

The only thing you really have to know when deciding what to do on an inspection is to inspect the way you'd inspect if you were going to buy the house yourself and the owner agreed to let you do your own inspection. That's what I've done from day one and I've never allowed myself to worry about time. I get done when I get done. Back when I was with the franchise and consistenly doing 2 inspections a day I was consistently late for my afternoon inspections and would work into the evenings because I refused to hurry myself on the afternoon inspections.

I think that one can do that and speed it up - but only by working with somone else.

OT - OF!!!

M.

I

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I've never attempted to write or deliver on-site because I would have to hurry the whole inspection up to make it work. No time to check facts, consult smarter/more experienced HI's about weird stuff, reconsider spur-of-the-moment wording, etc. If I had gone that way I would have made a lot of big mistakes, some of which would have surely come back to kick me in the butt (where the wallet is).

I think you need a lot of experience and a partner to pull that method off without eventually stumbling into a lawsuit. To those who can make it work without shorting the client or financially injuring themselves, I tip my hat....but it's not for me, and it's suicide for relatively new guys (IMHO).

Brian G.

Speed Kills (Inexperienced HI's) [xx(]

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Originally posted by hausdok

The only thing you really have to know when deciding what to do on an inspection is to inspect the way you'd inspect if you were going to buy the house yourself and the owner agreed to let you do your own inspection.

Actually Mike, that's a veeery good question. I used to think that same thought but these days, that's not the right question. Let me stick my neck out and explain why:

I pulled up in the driveway of that house this morning and I knew almost exactly what I was going to find.

Any inspector that's got maybe 500 houses or so under his belt starts to see the same thing over and over again. Its actually very predictable.

Gimme 10 minutes walking around and I'll know what's going to happen. The irony is it takes me the next 4 hours and 20 minutes to find the details to support my "professional evaluation" and put it in to a credible document.

So, what would I do if I were buying the house for me? Take about 45 minutes; walk the roof, poke my head in the crawl and the attic, open the panel and meter a couple of floors.

Do you think I could charge my normal fees for an hour's worth of work?

Please don't misunderstand my brevity (anyone have a better word?) as being crass or negligent, but I know you (and probably lots of other seasoned inspectors) know what I'm talking about.

You develop that sixth sense.

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I agree with Randy on this one. After so many years and so many homes I can often predict what I will find (and have to be careful of this )

When I started this business I came in as "a home inspector". What is that? Over the years I have developed my business the way I want it.

Randy mentioned justifying charging the same amount for less time. I see my business objective as protecting my clients interests on the major systems of the home, regardless of time. I am not paid by the hour. I explain this exactly to my client when we begin. If it takes 10 minutes or 4 hours to protect their interests, then that is the time I take and I have earned my fee and delivered what I have promised. ( I have personally done over 6000 inspections and have been sued twice and won both. I believe I was sued once because of my E & O insurance,. thus as meets my business model to be profitable I no longer carry it and haven't since 02 without any problems. Is this for everyone? Certainly not, but it works for me.)

My business model , began evolving when I first started and has continued changing over the past 12 years. I created a vision of what I wanted this to be and then adapted to make this happen. That vision continually changes.One top priority was not working at home and this is why the onsite report delivery is absolutely imperative to my model. Again, I said "my" as this certainly does not appear to be appropriate to what most inspectors envision theirs to be today.

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Originally posted by Brian G

I've never attempted to write or deliver on-site because I would have to hurry the whole inspection up to make it work. No time to check facts, consult smarter/more experienced HI's about weird stuff, reconsider spur-of-the-moment wording, etc. If I had gone that way I would have made a lot of big mistakes, some of which would have surely come back to kick me in the butt (where the wallet is).

I think you need a lot of experience and a partner to pull that method off without eventually stumbling into a lawsuit. To those who can make it work without shorting the client or financially injuring themselves, I tip my hat....but it's not for me, and it's suicide for relatively new guys (IMHO).

Brian G.

Speed Kills (Inexperienced HI's) [xx(]

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Originally posted by Brian G

I've never attempted to write or deliver on-site because I would have to hurry the whole inspection up to make it work. No time to check facts, consult smarter/more experienced HI's about weird stuff, reconsider spur-of-the-moment wording, etc. If I had gone that way I would have made a lot of big mistakes, some of which would have surely come back to kick me in the butt (where the wallet is).

I think you need a lot of experience and a partner to pull that method off without eventually stumbling into a lawsuit. To those who can make it work without shorting the client or financially injuring themselves, I tip my hat....but it's not for me, and it's suicide for relatively new guys (IMHO).

Brian G.

Speed Kills (Inexperienced HI's) [xx(]

Brian,

I agree with you completely. In order to perform the inspection and deliver the report onsite I needed experience and a partner. The experience I had and 7 years ago I added a partner. I have done only a handful by myself in the last 7 years and it is not something I like doing and I can't imagine how I did them alone for so long.

Now there are three of us and we mostly work in teams.

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Size, age and area affect time to complete the job. If I have a doubt about anything it's a PM inspection. If I see a long inspection it's set as an all day. My market is small enough that I can.

My AM is set for 9. I get there at 8. I have plenty of time to get set up, do the roof and exterior. Data is in. I budget to be done by 11 or 11:30. Next appointment is at 2. I want to be there by 1. That leave plenty of additional time for a house with surprises. A burger on the run or skip lunch if needed. If there is so much wrong with a house I will list the defects an begin to make some broad statements. If I can't convey the condition of an average size home in 5 hrs I'm doing something wrong.

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

PS: Somebody please tell me the advantage of leaving the house (where all the defects are right in front of you) and writing about them when you're back at the office, miles and hours away from the defects...

Come on Walter, you could figure that one out for yourself easy enough. The advantage is that few of us have partners, experience as professional writers, or decades of HI experience under out belts, to allow us to do what you did the way you did it. We ain't you; we can't be you (yet). Most of us need more time to get it all right, and getting it right is what matters most (isn't it?).

I have great respect for you Walter, and I'm somewhat dismayed at how often I disagree with you about stuff like this. I don't want to seem like I'm firing across your bow for some unknown personal reason, but really, when you tell a new HI to just type faster.....that's horrible advice, and it misses the point. It isn't really about how fast one can type. It's about how quickly one can assimlate all of the facts, information, indicators, etc. into a solid, well-formed, professional opinion without missing something significant. That has to be done over and over while writing an inspection report. Somethings are quick and easy; some are not. Overall, it takes however long it takes. Not long for you; much longer for a rookie.

Brian G.

Know Yourself, Stay in Your Own Comfort Zone [:-hspin]

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I would love to be able to do my reports on site. The only problem is, I would have to sleep there. Right now, I figure it takes me about 12 hours... easy, to write a report. So I rarely get it done in one day. As I get more familiar with the program and with reporting itself, I'm sure that will get cut down a bit. Hopefully, quite a bit.

I was recently on an inspection with a fellow who does his reports on site. A very experienced fellow, I might add. Been inspecting for about 14 years. Although I was impressed with his knowledge, his report was nothing more than a check list with a few short narratives... not even one picture.

When I discussed it with him and told him how long it took me, he commented that doing the reports his way was the only way to make money. When I saw the print out, it reminded me of what I learned on at ITA, although it wasn't an ITA report.

My reporting style is still developing. I find I use alot of pictures and short narratives. Very little check list. When I finish the report I am working on now, I will post it for critique.

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I still see the possibility of delivering my reports on site at sometime in the future. I understand there are some benefits of doing that. However, at this point in my career I need to focus on quality over speed. My personality won't allow me to rest unless I give what I believe is a quality product. I can't change that. If that means I'll make less money for the time invested, so be it.

I think boiler plate limits my ability to communicate. With narrative writing, I can still look at each individual issue as one would do with boiler plate, but also view the whole job as a bigger picture. I think this can add to the quality of the reporting. No two houses are the same. Narrative writing better allows for adjustments in approach which I believe adds to the quality of the work overall.

I'm not too happy with the software I was using on the PDA anyway. It was a neat idea how you could imbed the pictures and print wireless but the print quality of the pictures was poor and there were other glitches with data carrying to following pages and whatnot. If I decide to try on site reporting in the future I will get different software that will be used on a laptop, not a PDA.

I'll be selling the stuff listed above to help pay the bill for this.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp ... 6470439442

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Originally posted by AHI

I think boiler plate limits my ability to communicate. With narrative writing, I can still look at each individual issue as one would do with boiler plate, but also view the whole job as a bigger picture. I think this can add to the quality of the reporting. No two houses are the same. Narrative writing better allows for adjustments in approach which I believe adds to the quality of the work overall.

Most narrative programs allow you to customize each "boiler plate" comment to your communication method. There are narrative programs out there that utilize a word document as the base template while you are performing the inspection, this allows you to change a comment that you have just inserted into the report if conditions dictate that more or less must be stated.

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I think boiler plate limits my ability to communicate.

John, that recognition alone puts you in the top 30%. And you look like you are well on your way to the top 30% of the top 30%. I don't know how fast you can type but I think you will find at some point you will be able type out the narrative faster then it takes to hunt and find some piece of broiler plate that best matches the senario your reporting on.

Chris, Oregon

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Unfortunately this kind of trial and error is just part of the process of growing into the HI business for most of us. Try this, change to that, tweak things here and there, maybe make another sharp turn somewhere, try new technologies in hopes of shaving time without losing quality, and on and on. And of course, all the while the inspector is changing too. I know I'm not quite where I want to be yet.

The "only way to make money" comment Steven mentioned is typical of a few guys I've brushed up against. For them it's a business first and a profession second (or third, or fourth, if at all). We all have to try to balance those things, but I relate better to the guys who believe financial success follows professional success.

Brian G.

Slowly Evolving [:-alien]

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When I train inspectors (I have a home inspection school in Illinois along with my HI business), I give them 5 goals to pursue when they are starting out, the 5th being make money. Without the skills and artistry based on quality work, that goal will never be reached. However, it is a business and business by its nature should have profitability as its goal. Why else do it? I am sure every inspector would admit that making money is a prime reason for being in this business. With that in mind I encourage young inspectors to look to the future in the design and development of their business vision. Do you want to be using a reporting system that necessitates working at home at the end of the day? You can find those but also good, thorough reports that are onsite friendly. Do you want one that by its nature and method of delivery will not allow you to do 4 inspections a day? (Set high goals. There seems to be a belief in this profession that volume and quality are mutually exclusive. Great inspectors are in demand and will be asked to perform in great number. Let the option to do as many as you choose be dictated by your energy and desire rather than methodology). Do you want a report filled with in-depth amounts of prose that no one will ever read or fancy, or costly binders that will be stuffed back in a cabinet at day's end ( my experience is that most people never read the full report but rely strictly on a final summary. Most attorneys will tell you that all they want is the summary and that it should clear, brief and specific).

Ultimately this is about being a business and the better you are at all aspects of the business, from inspecting to reporting to marketing, the more profitable you will ultimately be.

Finally, the bottom line of this note is to look to the future. Build toward what you would like it to be rather than what it is today. Do this by defining your style of inspecting, choosing or creating a report that meets your goals, and be willing to change and evolve as your goals change and evolve. There is no one right way in this business, and that is the beauty of this profession.

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Originally posted by Sal

I am sure every inspector would admit that making money is a prime reason for being in this business.

Granted.

With that in mind I encourage young inspectors to look to the future in the design and development of their business vision. Do you want to be using a reporting system that necessitates working at home at the end of the day?

Necessitates, no; allows, yes.

Do you want one that by its nature and method of delivery will not allow you to do 4 inspections a day?

Actually, I'd probably prefer to see that done by law. 4 a day? Do you and your two partners work as a team, on one house at a time?

There seems to be a belief in this profession that volume and quality are mutually exclusive. Great inspectors are in demand and will be asked to perform in great number. Let the option to do as many as you choose be dictated by your energy and desire rather than methodology.

I wouldn't go as far as saying they're mutually exclusive, but trying to do both at a rate of 4 per day for a single inspector? I'd have to see it to believe it, and so far I haven't. That pace is almost exclusively the land of realtor-friendly toadies. Please tell me you aren't suggesting this kind of speedwork to newbies.

Do you want a report filled with in-depth amounts of prose that no one will ever read or fancy, or costly binders that will be stuffed back in a cabinet at day's end ( my experience is that most people never read the full report but rely strictly on a final summary. Most attorneys will tell you that all they want is the summary and that it should clear, brief and specific).

That sounds a lot like a rationalization for not doing a thorough job. Sure, we can over-write a report, but under-writing them is far more common.

Ultimately this is about being a business and the better you are at all aspects of the business, from inspecting to reporting to marketing, the more profitable you will ultimately be.

Agreed, to a point, but it sounds like "money" went from 5th to 1st on you there. I still think it's ultimately about being a professional, with that guaranteeing profitability in the long run.

Finally, the bottom line of this note is to look to the future. Build toward what you would like it to be rather than what it is today. Do this by defining your style of inspecting, choosing or creating a report that meets your goals, and be willing to change and evolve as your goals change and evolve. There is no one right way in this business, and that is the beauty of this profession.

I agree with all of that. There's more than one right way; there's more than one wrong way.

Brian G.

For What It's Worth [8]

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