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I've gotten into the habit of using numbered lists in my MS Word based reports. It seems to encourage me to explain things in fewer words since numbered lists look better with smaller paragraphs. I use the numbered lists mainly when there are alot of problems in a particular section of a house.

Do any of you use numbered lists in your reports and what do you think the pros and cons are? Are there any good ways of formatting them using styles?

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My report is a list. Has been for years. I like the idea. So do my customers. No digging through reports; it's "what about #27?" when I'm talking to customers.

I've got stuff organized hierarchically with terms like "Site, Sidewalls, Roof, etc.", but all concerns are numbered.

The Descriptive stuff like materials, locations, and all that is in the back.

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I've gotten into the habit of using numbered lists in my MS Word based reports. It seems to encourage me to explain things in fewer words since numbered lists look better with smaller paragraphs. I use the numbered lists mainly when there are alot of problems in a particular section of a house.

Do any of you use numbered lists in your reports and what do you think the pros and cons are? Are there any good ways of formatting them using styles?

Sure. Every recommendation in my report has a number in front of it. This makes it easy to locate the recommendation. There are no cons to it.

I just define a style that I call Defect Recommendation and assign that style to each one. The numbering carries through the entire report. Works fine.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I actually got started editing such a report in 3d with sequentially numbered findings a few months ago but reverted back to my old style because of the editing time that it added. It's a nice way of showing the client just how many items you've noticed and also allows the implementation of an idea in reporting that I've only seen done once in 7 years: a retired engineer friend of mine draws a floor plan of the house on the first page with circled numbers placed to represent each finding. The descriptions of the numbered findings themselves begins on the next page. Very simple and effective. This engineer spends the entire day on a single home inspection job. No computer.

Marc

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Do any of you use numbered lists in your reports and what do you think the pros and cons are? Are there any good ways of formatting them using styles?

John, what are you listing exactly?

All of the report writers out there, that I'm thinking of, allow only listing an issue. This is a problem that can make lumping things together confusing. The solution is to list the recommendation a la Jim Katen, not the individual issues.

Chris, Oregon

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My report is a list. Has been for years. I like the idea. So do my customers. No digging through reports; it's "what about #27?" when I'm talking to customers.

I've got stuff organized hierarchically with terms like "Site, Sidewalls, Roof, etc.", but all concerns are numbered.

The Descriptive stuff like materials, locations, and all that is in the back.

Me too.

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A couple of you asked how I use the lists. I'll usualluy do it something like the following.

Plumbing Observations

There are a number of problems in with the plumbing of the house. Have a qualified plumber fix the following listed items.

1.

2.

3.

4.

Posted below are pictures to illustrate these problems.

(insert pics with captions)

_____________________________________________________________

I like the idea of continuing the numbers through the entire report. I have been starting with number one in each new category list.

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All my findings are numbered.

If there's one component with multiple problems it'll look like:

24. The electrical panel has numerous problems including but not necessarly limited to:

a) There's a tape measure arc-welded to the main bus

b) There's a rat carcass inside

c) There's too many wires

d) etc, etc.

If there's just way too much stuff to list, I'll say so:

24. The electrical panel has so many violations, there's too many to itemize individually. Suffice to say the panel needs major repairs or better yet replace it.

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John,

Word automatically runs consecutive numbers for you. You have to make it stop numbering. My report is divided into sections: exterior, roof, plumbing, etc. The SOP stuff is listed at the top of each section, followed by a numbered list of comments, then on to the next section. My comment numbers pick up where they left off in the previous section. If Word tries to start over with '1', I just type in the number I want to use and it takes over from there. Most of the time it is automatic, but at least once or twice per report I have to correct it. It even works when I start a report on one machine and finish it on another using a different version of Word, which I do frequently.

I do not use templates or macros. I created an outline and saved it as a master. I open it, save as a new doc and fill in the blanks. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Tom

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  • 5 weeks later...

I think numbering a report has no down side, it certainly can aid when referencing a specific item later, the presentation of a numbered report is very professional in my opinion and it does tend to stop us from "rambling" on and state what we see clearly (at least it does me).

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  • 1 month later...

I don't even do that. I have a "Concern" list, numbered 1 through whatever.

Kurt,

Do you make recommendations for each item listed? I bet your answer is no. So, you must at least make a statement as to recommendations for your listed concerns somewhere in the report.

What do you say and where do you put it?

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You lose.

I tell folks what I think the problem is. I tell them what it means. I tell them what to do about it.

Numbered 1 through whatever.

Example:

"1) There's no through wall flashing @ the floor platforms. The lack of flashing in this location means water can enter the wall, soak into the joist ends, and cause mold growth or structural damage. Taken to it's conclusion, the floor platform could fail catastrophically. I am aware of several buildings where this condition has caused major structural damage.

There is no way to retrofit flashing into a solid masonry wall without dismantling and rebuilding the masonry at the floor platforms. This is a very major expense and disruption.

Get a masonry contractor to tell you what it's going to cost to fix."

Or......

"2) The basement stairs have uneven risers; this is a trip and fall hazard. Rebuild the stairs so the riser heights are the same (within a 1/4" of each other)."

Basic and simple data points. I write my reports on the known phenomenon of folks ability to digest sound bites. I leave the tomes up to those that feel like writing a lot of words to describe simple things.

And, there's always a picture with an arrow showing what I'm talking about.

I have a simple statement in the instruction saying (essentially) "if I describe a defect in this report, that means you should have it repaired, or at minimum, have an appropriate contractor look at it for a second opinion and a cost estimate for repair."

I do that so there's not the robotic intonation for repair by competent qualified hairdressers following every comment. Folks seem to understand that.

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I have a simple statement in the instruction saying (essentially) "if I describe a defect in this report, that means you should have it repaired, or at minimum, have an appropriate contractor look at it for a second opinion and a cost estimate for repair."

Me too. It clipped pages off my report.

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I had an e-mail confab with a client about this just today. I checked out a house for her last week that had been pre-inspected by another, and found many more issues, including a damp basement that the IAQ guy who followed me said would require removal of the lower 4' of drywall within the periphery of the basement to fully assess and correct.

She sent me a copy of the other's guy report, which had been sent to her by the befuddled sellers, who claimed they had effected all necessary repairs based upon their own inspector-dude's observations. The other guy is actually quite good, and what we saw was pretty much the same except for the basement and a bunch of problems I found with the deck. His report, though, was computer-program-generated, and contained tons of extraneous boilerplate. I asked my buyer, who's getting a PhD in English, which format she preferred--the boilerplate-heavy version or my Word version which is pretty much a list with tons of photos and the descriptions that are necessary to meet the standards.

She said, and we have a good relationship because this is the fourth house I've looked at for her, that my report was much easier to assimilate and act upon because she didn't have to wade through all the boilerplate language. She further told me that the IAQ guy's report was also laden with disclaimers and boilerplate-ese, and that readers quickly pick up on that kind of thing and that it damages the verisimilitude of what's being read.

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I change it around from time to time, but it's basically the same message in different forms.

The more one ditches boilerplate and simply says what's there and what it means, in as few words as possible, the closer one gets to writing a decent report.

Pictures with a few accompanying words are very, very effective. I've gotten to including a pic with every comment. It holds the readers attention and vastly increases their interest and understanding.

It's good to have a report that is true, and also appears true to the reader.

Verisimilitude ain't as easy as it appears. (hee hee......)

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Example:

"1) There's no through wall flashing @ the floor platforms. The lack of flashing in this location means water can enter the wall, soak into the joist ends, and cause mold growth or structural damage. Taken to it's conclusion, the floor platform could fail catastrophically. I am aware of several buildings where this condition has caused major structural damage.

There is no way to retrofit flashing into a solid masonry wall without dismantling and rebuilding the masonry at the floor platforms. This is a very major expense and disruption.

Get a masonry contractor to tell you what it's going to cost to fix."

Or......

"2) The basement stairs have uneven risers; this is a trip and fall hazard. Rebuild the stairs so the riser heights are the same (within a 1/4" of each other)."

I printed out Kurt's examples on paper and studied it for a long while. I like it a lot but I'm having trouble figuring how I can do it 40 or 60 times in a typical inspection report without spending too much time typing at my computer. That's what my boilerplate is for.

Marc

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