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How do you categorize your findings?


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I don't.

Stop trying to pigeon hole it in terms of whether or not it's a deficiency. Instead think about whether or not it would be good advice.

Jim Katen

I use to fret over trying to figure out how I was going to categorize this thing or that thing until Jim K. gave me that pearl of advice.

Make a list of your findings and give your advice. No need to categorize findings in terms of deficiencies or degree of deficiency. Rather than helping the client you end up helping the seller and the realtors.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

I don't.

Stop trying to pigeon hole it in terms of whether or not it's a deficiency. Instead think about whether or not it would be good advice.

Jim Katen

I use to fret over trying to figure out how I was going to categorize this thing or that thing until Jim K. gave me that pearl of advice.

Make a list of your findings and give your advice. No need to categorize findings in terms of deficiencies or degree of deficiency. Rather than helping the client you end up helping the seller and the realtors.

Chris, Oregon

Ditto! I had an agent call me and ask for a summary of my significant findings. I told her I don't do a summary. I told her, everyhthing in the report is significant. That's why it's in the report.

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I want to improve the way I categorize my comments and am looking for ideas on how other inspectors label/ categorize your comments.

For what it's worth, I use to categorize the findings mainly because that was traditionally how other inspectors were doing it.

But what I found was that unscrupulous realtors and sellers more often than not used it against the buyer.

I would routinely find out typically on a reinspect a shaded complaint by the buyer that because I had differentiated the findings that the seller dug their feet in and would do only what I said was major or a safety issue.

This led to fretting on my part followed by the advice that Jim K. gave me which took the monkey off my back.

The secret is just giving good advice in the manner a la Katen & Jowers.

The remarkable thing is that since I changed to a completely Katen findings format, I can't even remember the last time a client or agent hit me up for advice on which items were important or which ones should they hit the seller up for.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

The remarkable thing is that since I changed to a completely Katen findings format, I can't even remember the last time a client or agent hit me up for advice on which items were important or which ones should they hit the seller up for.

Chris, Oregon

Summary in a report aside, folks still want to know what's important and will continue to look to us to help them disseminate.

This continues to be a difficult dilemma.

As others have mentioned, the entire report is important.

Is it?

Are the too-wide spindles on the staircase guardrail equally important as an at-the-end-of-its life roof?

If you're worried about your kids it is.

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Funny how that works.

If you tell folks Major, Minor, etc., they dink it around.

If you don't tell them, they ask what's Major.

Katen's advice isn't sacrosanct in this case. Folks want a summary (overwhelming statistic, both mine and others sez so), and it's gotta have a breakdown for the masses to understand it (more statistics say so).

You can provide the breakdown either narratively, or by category.

Narratively doesn't always cut it for the masses. Folks can't read for content anymore.

Categories work very well. The idea that confusion gets built in by categorizing isn't true.

Cramer categorizes.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

As others have mentioned, the entire report is important.

Is it?

Absolutely. That's why all the current formats are out of touch w/what the market wants and has to have.

We write reports, then have to "summarize" them so folks can find the information, and qualify the summaries so folks will see the important stuff.

There's a fundamental structural problem w/how reports are developed.

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Well, I provide my clients what they want and not what I want. The first few pages of my report will be a summary of the items that need attention. Personally, I don't like a summary but I have discovered that my clients like it. They want to know what is wrong without reading through pages of my report. Seems like everyone except the home inspector likes a "Cliff Notes" version type report.

The way I report items is simple. It is working, acceptable or serviceable. It all depends on what I'm talking about.

If it needs repair, correction or whatever; I just say so. I use words like; Repair; Replace; It is broken and Correction.

I don't like the Minor/Major way of describing things. This type of reporting is relative to how much money your client has to spend on repairs. $500 might be Minor to a person who is earning $175,000 a year and Major to a person who is earning $75,000. Same goes for the $100 repair vs. a $300 repair.

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All good points. Ultimately the question / dilemma still stands in my mind: is it our job to determine what's "important?"

I think the definition of Summary is blurred. Some folks think a Summary highlights and prioritizes big ticket items.

Me? I do a Summary but not one that highlights or prioritizes.

It's a cut and paste feature that lists/re-states everything in the report already mentioned. It doesn't require the reader to plow and flip through the previous pages to find the notes.

As Kurt has said before: "I'm just a list-maker."

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I am not against categorizing. If it works for you, and you don't break a sweat trying to do it a la Cramer, that's fine.

My experience with how clients actually use the report has convinced me that its benefit is an imagined one.

It can confuse and become an obstacle in negotiations just as well as it would be an aid.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Scottpat

Seems like everyone except the home inspector likes a "Cliff Notes" version type report.

Yep. (italics are mine) It's the inspectors, and worse, the inspection software companies that are screwing everything up w/preconceive notions of information delivery.

I don't like the Minor/Major way of describing things. This type of reporting is relative to how much money your client has to spend on repairs.

That's the easy part. In the intro, in 2 different areas, I qualify Major as anything >$250 (choose any number that fits for you), and Minor as anything <$250. Major and Minor are tightly defined. That allows me to easily document all the little stuff like broken window panes, broken hardware, etc., and "weight" it accordingly. If someone wants to consider <$250 as Major, that is their prerogative. It's still in the list.

With my new interface and working modules, I can develop my list of items very quickly, and it auto sorts the items by System first, then Major, Minor, Needs further Analysis, Safety, and FYI at the end. When my customer opens their report, they read a descending list of priorities. At the very back is the near pointless stuff required by our SOP's that no one cares about anyway.

My report is a summary. This idea that reports have to *read* like a book review is fallacy. No one wants to read this stuff, and I don't blame them. It's boring. Exceedingly boring at best, and disordered and disorienting at worst.

Folks want information delivered in the easiest to comprehend format.

That means a summary.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

It can confuse and become an obstacle in negotiations just as well as it would be an aid.

Chris, Oregon

Red herring. The mistake is imagining folks understand how to negotiate effectively. Most don't.

"It" isn't the obstacle or confusion. Obstacles come from realtors first and customers w/misguided or unrealistic expectations second.

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is it our job to determine what's "important?"

Important with respect to what? In terms of value? In terms of adequacy? In terms of safety? In terms of habitability?

My opinion is no, at least not on the first cut. I believe the report should list what you think is wrong and what to do about it only and that to go further begs a discussion with the client and usually turns into an Oscar speech.

Chris, Oregon

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Red herring. The mistake is imagining folks understand how to negotiate effectively. Most don't.

True

"It" isn't the obstacle or confusion. Obstacles come from realtors first and customers w/misguided or unrealistic expectations second.

Be that as it may, why would you set up the misguided client to trip?

Thats why I argue that the report should be a list of whats wrong and what to do about it first and then the relative importance of items left as a separate discussion.

Chris, Oregon

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Well, I don't set up the misguided client to trip. That's the point.

I've fundamentally changed how the information is delivered. I'm not showing the masses yet, because honestly, they aren't ready for it. At all.

*Importance* has little to do w/the Major-Minor-Safety-Etc. categorizations. Importance has everything to do w/what the customer brings to the table. Importance is a relative subjective term. I don't write relative subjective reports. I report facts. How someone feels about facts is their business and a personal choice.

I don't describe what's important. I describe what the issues are, what it means, how to deal with them, and probable cost to repair.

Because, it always ends up being about the cost, not the perception of importance.

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