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I've never heard of any software that would qualify you for an insurance discount.

If there is any, I suppose there would have to be special aspects of the report that are what the insurance company wants to see included.

To my way of thinking, no such product would exist. It isn't the report format that does the inspection and compiles the report. It's the inspector. Any good inspector who is honest and thorough is going to be less of a risk to an insurance company, using any reporting system, than an inexperienced, poorly trained or ethically challenged inspector that uses the best software in the world.

Are you asking because you know that such a product exists, or are you simply fishing? If you actually know that there is an insurance company out there that will give a discount for using a certain software, who are they and what are the aspects of the reporting system that they want to see?

If you're just fishing, forget about looking for something to reduce your insurance cost and concentrate on learning the business from top to bottom as best you can without taking any shortcuts. If your state allows you to be bonded, you can cover yourself with a bond for relatively little cost compared to an E & O policy, until such time as you've gained enough experience, become very proficient and can afford to pay for a decent E & O policy.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by peter hsi

I am looking for a reporting system that qualifies for insurance discount. Besides "Matrix", are there others? If so, which insurance company?

It doesn't have to be software as I am a new inspector.

--Peter Hsi

Hi Peter, welcome to the profession. I'm not aware of any reporting system that qualifies for an insurance discount and I believe you won't find one for all of the reasons Mike outlined.

However, if you come to the next meeting of the Oregon Association of Home Inspectors, you can pick the brains of 30 or 40 other home inspectors in our area to see what they're using.

The next meeting is Tuesday evening, January 25 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. It's at Buster's Barbeque Restaurant on Hwy 99 in Tigard, just west of I-5.

We're happy to see new inspectors there. Your first meeting is free (you'll have to buy your own dinner, though.) We're a very good resource for new inspectors. You might want to ask about our mentor program.

If you've got any questions about OAHI or home inspecting in Oregon, shoot me an e-mail at jim@benchmarkinspections.com or feel free to call 503 985-7543.

Good luck.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Anyone know of reporting software that works in MacOSX?

I checked out Inspect Express, doesn't look like it. About 7 years ago when I bought my first house, the inspector used software that I recognized as based in Filemaker Pro. Of course, I can't find that old report anymore or his info.

A

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Hi Andrew,

I use to be a Mac person myself years ago. My first puter was a Mac and I do love those machines. I've been thinking of getting another Mac here lately. I miss the simplicity and power of those machiens.

Whisper Solutions use to advertise that their software would run on Virtual PC. Not sure if it still does since they've upgraded their software. You can find them on the web at www.whispersolutions.com.

Other PC software programs may run on VPC, I'm just not sure since I haven't tried them.

If I'm not mistaken, Brother Mitenbuler has a FileMaker based inspection program. He'll be hanging around the board somewhere when he gets back from Austin.

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I'm back. Austin was great.

Nothing that I'm aware of for the Mac, unfortuneately. There were over 20 software vendors @ the show, & they are all PC based.

There are bunch of FM Pro report systems, but all of them are older. If you are competent in FM, you can build your own. There are limitations, primarily w/dropping photos in next to your text. That doesn't bother me, as I can type & describe a defect and it's location 10 times quicker than I can dink around dropping photos. I've got a photo file that I can print as an additional sheet for those times when I include photos, which is almost never. I take lots of photos for explanations to the client and for my records, but overall, including photos is still relatively clumsy & files end up being huge.

The current hegemony is heavily tilted toward photo inclusion, which I find to be a pain in the ass. They really aren't necessary if one is capable of writing a simple sentence.

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First, I admit to having to look up "hegemony". I've added it to my vocabulary and expect to be using it soon.

Pictures are easy for me to drop in a report and I'll typically use twenty or thirty. I agree with Kurt that it's a redundancy, and they're mostly there for flashiness. Some things like extensive fungal growth in an attic or charred wiring benefit from the additional exposure to drive home the point. On homes that I strongly believe aren't suitable for habitation I use more to leave that impression with my client without ever having to say "this house is a piece of crap".

When I first started no one ever really warned me that realtors get my report, and the first realtor that said "did you take photos of anything that's right with the house?" made me believe that the photos are worth the effort.

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Most photos are not needed; however, when a chimney flashing is wrong, the flue has gaps, there's severe powder post beetle damage to the crawlspace joists etc (areas your clients can't see), I think it's good to include them.

When that roofer comes down off the roof, he can't say "everythings fine" or "I can't find any problems", a picture is worth preventing any phone calls from contractors.

Darren

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I take photos; lots of them. They go in my computer for those occasions when a moron can't find something or says something is fine.

Putting photos in a report is easy; it just takes time. Lots of it. All those extra seconds & minutes add up to hours @ the end of the day. Does anyone actually track those minutes? I do. It ends up being a lot of time.

Hegemony: The predominant influence, as of a state, region, or group, over another or others. When talking about HI professional societies, it is very useful.

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Originally posted by kurt

Putting photos in a report is easy; it just takes time. Lots of it. All those extra seconds & minutes add up to hours @ the end of the day. Does anyone actually track those minutes? I do. It ends up being a lot of time.

Totally agree 117%!!! Thats why I've been trying to find good photo software that minimized this procedure - see the other thread in 'Photos'

Haven't found a good program yet, however the tips from Jim Katen utilizing MS Word have helped a bunch.

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I use PhotoDraw integrated with my reporting software. I don't take pictures on a regular basis unless they are paid for, if the client will not be present or if a defect is found in an out of the way place.

When I'm in my reporting program, I can select the photo I want from the camera and import it into it's place in the report, clicking the photo opens PhotoDraw with the picture ready for editing, caption it and put my markers on it, hit save and the changes show up in the program. Total time is about 10 to 15 seconds per photo. The most photo's I've ever put into a report is about 20.

Donald

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I use a clone (no records) file. Import all photos directly into fields in the database, caption all photos, print. In my system, the client info, address, etc., is automatically entered w/relations (relational database). Close the file, rename it, do a "save as clone" to create a new empty file for the next customer. It's the simplest method possible, but it does end up w/the photos being on a seperate sheet.

Personally, I like it better, as I tend to find all those photos to be distracting. They do make poorly written reports look better though.

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I have to respectfully disagree with you guys about the photos (sorry).

I'm not a home inspector, but I've been a "forensic Architect" in an architectural engineering firm (read litigation) for the last two years and like home inspectors, our reports have to describe our observations and analysis to readers who usually don't share our expertise.

It's been my experience that well composed photos, with succinct explanations, can get a client (attorney, juror, homeowner) to understand the story a lot faster and easier.

Photos also serve to "benchmark" observed conditions to the time that you observed them. This is very important in litigation.

It sounds like the main gripe that I'm reading about is the process of getting photos into the report and I'll bet that once you get a smooth system in place, you'll end up changing your opinion of their value.

I have an example of our process that I'll share: We use Canon cameras that allow us to quickly make a 60 second sound byte associated with each photo. After each photo we snap the mic button and describe the image to the camera. The JPG images are matched to WAV audio files with the same file name (except extension). Later when writing the report, it's very easy to refer back to the saved audio file and remember just what the hell that photo was of, and where it was :).

I've been on many files where our client had a Canon and had no idea that he could do that as well.

My $.02.

A

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Well, once again, it's not that it's "hard"; it's easy. It just takes time, & time is what we sell in tiny little sections out of every day.

That time has to have a price put on it, which has to compete w/those that don't necessarily know how to price their services. IOW, I have to count every minute of every job, break that into a logistical scheme that allows me to review conditions, document them in a manner sufficient to inform my clients, & deliver said information the same day.

You're talking about something that has little, if anything, to do w/home inspecting. You are discussing litigation support. You experience several luxuries in your task:

1) You already know where the defects are; you just have to describe them, not find them.

2) You are probably on an hourly, or retainer basis, which is worlds apart from performing a set piece inspection @ a fixed price.

3) You don't have to deliver your report until you have had time, often days or weeks, to compile, review, & proof, rewrite, consult, and finalize the report.

When I'm doing expert support services, I have dozens, or hundreds of photos included in documents that number into dozens of pages. By comparison, it is a much easier task than home inspecting where the market (unfortuneately) dictates that we have approx. 3-4 hours to complete an "average" house report. In my dreams, I would take at least a day to look @ every house, have unlimited access to records, counsel, & be allowed to invasively investigate anything anything deemed necessary.

You imagine that the two (forensic investigation vs. home inspection) are similar, but they are not. Not even vaguely. The trick is not performing a good inspection; that's easy. The trick is doing it profitably when the market is set artifically by outside interests (realtors, moron inspectors, & customer expectations). We work in a world where the referring marketplace (realtors) punishes those that do the best job.

Fortuneately, I receive very few referrals from realtors; my primary referral source is past customers telling their associates & friends. I have a small luxury of having their expectations of cost being set a little higher than for the average schmoe inspector, but that doesn't mean I can charge a couple grand & have a day or two to complete the job.

I suppose for those incapable of writing a simple sentence, photos can save time. For anyone capable of describing what they see in a few simple sentences, they are unnecessary.

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I don't include the photos in the body of the report, but I give them a CD with the photos on it. That takes about 3 minutes to produce at a cost of roughly 50 cents. I refer to the photos by jpeg number in the report. Now that I have a laptop I can stick the CD in and pull up a photo very easily, zoom in on certain parts, point out specifics with the cursor, etc. I find photos are extremely helpful when explaining defects and improper conditions to layman clients who have no idea what I'm talking about. That's a big part of what it's about, right?

Brian G.

My 3 Cents (I raise Andrew) [:-dev3]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

I don't include the photos in the body of the report, but I give them a CD with the photos on it. That takes about 3 minutes to produce at a cost of roughly 50 cents. I refer to the photos by jpeg number in the report. Now that I have a laptop I can stick the CD in and pull up a photo very easily, zoom in on certain parts, point out specifics with the cursor, etc. I find photos are extremely helpful when explaining defects and improper conditions to layman clients who have no idea what I'm talking about. That's a big part of what it's about, right?

Brian G.

My 3 Cents (I raise Andrew) [:-dev3]

Right. I use photos all the time to show my customers what I'm talking about. I take lots of photos & file them away should I need them in the future. Once the client understands what I'm talking about, a simple sentence in a report is all they need to make their next move.

Very often, it is not the defect the customer doesn't understand, it is the concept. That requires language skill, not photographic skill.

BTW; it was cool meeting you in Austin. You are a gentleman, indeed. One of the bright bulbs this profession so desperately needs.

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Originally posted by kurt

Very often, it is not the defect the customer doesn't understand, it is the concept. That requires language skill, not photographic skill.

True enough. I seem to get a lot of construction-clueless clients, who would be lost without a photo to look at ("See that thing? It's turned this way, it should be that way, here's why that's bad."). Hell, I'd sing it for 'em if it would get the point across.

BTW; it was cool meeting you in Austin. You are a gentleman, indeed. One of the bright bulbs this profession so desperately needs.

You're most kind Herr Mitenbuler, and the feeling is mutual. I could deny the second part, but what would be the point? [;)]

Brian G.

My Future's So Bright... [8D]

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Which inevitably leads to the question of inspection report software. What we all end up being, in addition to home inspectors, is clerical staff and page layout/graphic artist, in addition to grunt laborer. We need a "machine" for getting this stuff out of the camera and into a report w/minimal effort.

I don't know about anyone else, but the current crop of home inspection software products is still lacking. Too many steps & processes. Cramer has a new macro for his program, but when he was demonstrating for us @ Austin, it glitched & hiccuped a couple times. That, unfortuneately, is my experience w/ all the software. Problematic.

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Our software works flawlessly to insert pictures into the finished report. The only downside is that they are at the end of the report. For us, it is a matter of uploading the photos, clicking a button that

1. resizes the image (both pixels and file size)

2. displays it and asks if you want it in the report (that way you don't have to review them on the camera.)

3. Inserts the photo and asks for a caption.

If you are a decent typist it takes about an additional ten seconds a photo.

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I'll throw my .02 in.

It's been my experience that including pictures in the body of the report, adjacent to the written description is the best way to get the point across. The downside is that it does take time. I also don't use any prepackage software as I have seen any that I like. I just use MS Word and convert to a .pdf file when finished. Most of my clients don't even bother with a written report. Works for me. It takes an hour (or two for the mor complicated ones) to compose everything. I use prepared statements for much of the recurring problems in the area (I don't think anyone actually reads the dishwasher requirement for a high loop or air gap) and the unique stuff requires a bit more input.

The biggest problem with the HI software appears to be the inclusion of photos and the formating. Flame away, but I don't think they are very easy to read. But, to each their own.

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Originally posted by bradfeldt

Our software works flawlessly to insert pictures into the finished report. The only downside is that they are at the end of the report. For us, it is a matter of uploading the photos, clicking a button that

1. resizes the image (both pixels and file size)

2. displays it and asks if you want it in the report (that way you don't have to review them on the camera.)

3. Inserts the photo and asks for a caption.

If you are a decent typist it takes about an additional ten seconds a photo.

When I do include photos, that's how I do it; my little database program imports, asks for captions, & then I can sort (if I want). They just end up @ the end of the report on a photo page (or pages). It's the simplest method I've found.

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Originally posted by kurt

You're talking about something that has little, if anything, to do w/home inspecting. You are discussing litigation support.

I'm talking about adding photos to a written report. I disagree that it has little to do with home inspecting.

You experience several luxuries in your task:

1) You already know where the defects are; you just have to describe them, not find them.

Sorry, wrong here. We do usually get symptoms of a problem, but our observation pretty much starts from 0 and we have to hunt the problem as well. We also are expected to consider nearly every possibility in formulating our conclusions. Failure to do so invites a nasty smack-down from opposing counsel in deposition.

We are on an hourly basis but up against a set budget (at least initially) and to state that our work does not have to be rigorously competitive is incorrect.

You imagine that the two (forensic investigation vs. home inspection) are similar, but they are not.

My father is a home inspector. I'm not imagining the simularity. The three home inspection reports that I've obtained over the last seven years have all contained pictures and they do help to illustrate the report.

I suppose for those incapable of writing a simple sentence, photos can save time. For anyone capable of describing what they see in a few simple sentences, they are unnecessary.

I don't want to argue about it, but my experience differs.

Sorry, I disagree.

A

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