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Question for the long beards

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1) manual Olivetti 'til about 1984 / snail mail

2) checklist 'til about 1986 / handed out on site

3) narrate to typist 1986-1989 snail mail again

4) Brother "word processor", a weird little electric typewriter '89-'91

5) Mac SE for about a year; took notes on site, assembled at office then faxed

6) Mac Powerbook on site(about 1991) faxed

7) laptops in general after that; started .pdf's in 1992 when I found a weird little beta test program offered in another piece of software (I think it was for my camera) that was called Adobe Acrobat.

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How the hell did you people do this job, before the internet, or before PCs?

Most of us wrote our reports with pens & paper, which was not a bad way to do it. It forced you to be succinct anyway. Some inspectors used typewriters. IBM Selectrics could correct misstrokes and had interchangable fonts; what more could you want?

Before the internet became a really useful tool, we created our own network of resources that we could call on. The most successful inspectors I knew then were people who cultivated relationships with their competitors for their mutual benefit. Unlike most of their competitors, these inspectors knew that making friends with the competition made everyone stronger, not weaker. The independent inspectors seemed to be poorly informed and a step or two behind everyone else. The internet has changed that.

BTW, I also remember bringing my Pentax Spotmatic to inspections, burning a role of film, dropping it off for double prints, and delivering one set of prints to the realtor's office to be passed on to the client. I used a lot more gas then.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Looking back, it is all kinda hard to believe...

The HomePro Book was my first reporting system, which was pretty impressive for its day, I guess. I did, however, notice when I would re-inspect homes that all that information just sat on the bookshelf collecting dust, so I decided to spare the expense.

I had one of those Brother Word Processors, Kurt. I never could get used to typing a line and then hitting return and waiting for it to print. It was pretty freaky...

Actually, I kinda miss my Kodak cameras that wrote to a 3.25 floppy disk. You could hand the photos out like candy. I had tons of boxes from past inspections stacked up. When it was finally rumored that floppy disk camaras were being discontinue, I went to two Wal*Marts and bought three of them and milked them forever. MIni CDs were too damned expensive to give out - like $10.00 a piece...

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Well, me personally, I loved me some seminars back then. I used to end up with easily two times the required annual CEUs per year just making the education circuit. As Jim illuded to, it was a great way to learn and share ideas about everything, and I suppose a whole lot more was learned on breaks, meals and the vendor's hall than during the presentations.

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I remember the thrill of trading up from an IBM Selectric to my Panasonic "Word Processing" typewriter that had 56K of internal memory!

A few years later I upgraded to a Dell computer with a 386 speed processor and paid a few hundred dollars extra so I could have 4 megs of RAM and an added math coprocessor chip.

We have come a long way.

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Don't know how acceptable it is, but I offer a walk-through/consult service for folks who have yet to contract for a property.

No pics, no written report --- just me walking with the client and pointing and talking.

They walk with me, and then make a decision whether or not to go forward on that property.

It's mostly for flippers investors, but I've had a few owners use the service to verify what they've been told by contractors, and a couple of sellers have done the walk-through to get a feel for what they were gonna be dealing with when they placed their homes on the market.

(and I really miss the Selectric --- though that was way before I ever knew there was such a thing as a home inspection.)

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Under our licensing law, what Bob describes is called a Pre-Offer Consultation. It must be done prior to mutual acceptance and does not require a written report; but it does require a written contractr between the client(s) and inspector that spells out the limitations of the inspection.



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Property investors (Landlords, flippers, etc.) are a funny bunch. I've never worked with one that would pay again and again for the cost of a whole house inspection. Like Bob, I have landed a few that call me every time they purchase, for a cursory look with a written summary with the mutual agreement that we're looking for the B I G stuff. Heck, most of the properties they buy are a cosmetic and equipment disaster anyway. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement. And, it might cause a light bulb to go on in some readers business heads - I've NEVER received a complaint from an investor - not one. They're reasonable folk that just want to be assured the building isn't going to fall down. Easy money, which they are thrilled to pay.

I have not, or will I ever, do such an inspection for a home buyer. They're expectations are too high and rightly so. Only savvy investors who already know what they're buying and simply want to make certain there isn't some huge defect or deficiency they're not recognizing can truly appreciate the cursory inspection. And, as I said, I see it as the only way to actually strike up a good working relationship with a regular property investor.

I do use a special ageement and the report is Summary only.

I've never done a verbal consultation only (no written results).

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I too have 3 or 4 regular flippers that hire me to just "walk n' talk", no report, no contract, just a handshake. It is not a Home Inspection, I'm a consultant, and I don't charge as much for this type of work. Their just interested in the big stuff, because most of the time they plan on gutting the inside anyway. It is easy work and I enjoy not having to write a report. Sometimes they call me when they are close to being done, so I swing by and appreciate all the hard work they have done.

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I understand about the report writing part. It's the access to information part that blows me away.

Oh yeah......that part......it's a miracle nowadays....websites, forums like this, online tutorials, the works.

I used to sneak into municipal code seminars, architect seminars, been asked to leave more than a couple because I didn't have ID, used to call mfg's. rep's, dig up crap at lumberyards, and find and talk to a whole big bunch of competent contractors in various locations around the country. The contractor part was most helpful, and probably explains my bent for listening to the competent folks that know how to build stuff.

Folks used to talk about "the code" like it was some sort of oral tradition passed down through the millenia as a rite of passage, and only those anointed as interpreters of the sacred manual were allowed to utter the phrases and words of the ancients.

Oh wait, that's nowadays according to some people........

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Are you saying that there is no home inspection law in IL?


No not at all. There are very specific HI law's in IL and when I perform a HI, which is just about every day, I far exceed those SOPs. What I'm saying is that on occasion, I act as a source of information regarding a house someone intends on buying and rehabbing. They do not want a full inspection or report, and what I provide comes no where close to meeting the IL or ASHI SOP. They understand that it is not a home inspection; and I do not call or advertise this consulting work as a home inspection. I have knowledge that people are willing to pay for and every time I share that knowledge, a HI does not it make.

I guess the way it started is investors would call me up and explain they were buying a flipper; once a guy paid $5,000 for the house and it looked like it. I walked away from it and said he could not pay me enough to write a report on it. I did a couple of real pieces of shit and spent hours upon hours inspecting and writing long long long reports that the customer did not care about because the house would be gutted anyway, but I had to write the report to meet the letter of the HI law. It was a waste of my time, I was not paid enough for the time it took to write the reports and the customer did not care and most of the information was not useful to them. They just want to know what needs to be done to the house (beyond all the obvious cosmetic stuff) to get it back in shape and sellable so they could turn a profit. So for a reduced fee I just walk n’ talk and tell them what they need to know verbally, they take notes and everyone is happy.

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