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Report for Brand New Inspector


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Hi folks. First timing posting and I am looking for some advice. I am finishing up a home inspection course at a local college, and I am looking for a report format to use. I plan to start off with a paper checklist format, and use that during inspections to make sure I do not miss anything. I will give that to my customer, along with a summary that will be email to them the following morning, to complete the report. The reason for the summary is for me to think about that report that night, and be sure I do not miss anything. I like the checklist that the Carson Dunlop has in the home reference book, and will be looking for something along the same lines. However, I do not want to have the cost outlay of those books. Because it looks like I will join CAHPI (British Columbia), I would want to have their standards followed, and that report looks like the closest one. I plan on using software in the future, and am leaning towards the Horizon program. But I want to make sure I concentrate on doing a good job on the inspection, and not worry about trying to work with a software program right away. Any advice would be gladly taken.

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Hi folks. First timing posting and I am looking for some advice. I am finishing up a home inspection course at a local college, and I am looking for a report format to use. I plan to start off with a paper checklist format, and use that during inspections to make sure I do not miss anything. I will give that to my customer, along with a summary that will be email to them the following morning, to complete the report. The reason for the summary is for me to think about that report that night, and be sure I do not miss anything.

I think you should turn it around. Give them the paper checklist and call it a preliminary report, or field notes, or something like that. Then go home and produce a full report and email *that* to them the next day. That way, you'll get practice working with the software and become accustomed to producing full reports on the computer.

I like the checklist that the Carson Dunlop has in the home reference book, and will be looking for something along the same lines. However, I do not want to have the cost outlay of those books.

The cost outlay is good. It'll be an incentive to move forward with your real report writing system.

Because it looks like I will join CAHPI (British Columbia), I would want to have their standards followed, and that report looks like the closest one. I plan on using software in the future, and am leaning towards the Horizon program. But I want to make sure I concentrate on doing a good job on the inspection, and not worry about trying to work with a software program right away. Any advice would be gladly taken.

Home Tech makes paper forms that are (or used to be) exceedingly popular.

My advice regarding software is to first decide whether you want a database system or a word processing system. There are excellent arguments for either one. It comes down to personal preference. Some people view the inspection report in terms of boilerplate that can be inserted into fields. (Database.) Others view it as manipulating words on a page. (Word Processor.) Of course, databases allow you to manipulate content and word processors allow you to insert data into fields, but they each do so in a limited fashion.

Once you've chosen the overall software type, look at the choices within that camp and select the ones that allow the greatest degree of flexibility. I strongly advise dumping the entire boilerplate library in any software that you buy. In most cases, the boilerplate is badly written. In some cases, it's well written, but it doesn't sound like it came from you. But the worst thing about a store-bought boilerplate library is that, as a new inspector, you will tend to rely on it in place of getting yourself a good education. This invariably leads to embarassing situations where you insert a boilerplate that you don't fully understand or that's technically inaccurate.

If a software program doesn't allow you to dump the boilerplate and re-write it, don't even consider that program.

Next, look at tech support. Don't believe what the manufacturer tells you. Ask other inspectors who've used the product for many years.

Last of all, look at ease of use. Over time, you'll get used to using pretty much anything. So if a program doesn't feel intuitive at first, I'm not so sure that's really a problem. You'll grow into it.

Among the database programs, 3D & Palm Tech seem to be very popular and well-liked. Among the word processor programs, this site's sponser, InspectExpress, and Mark Cramer's Intelligent Reporter are both excellent.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Another option would be to roll your own.

I didn't like any of the checklists I looked at, so I decided to write narrative. After looking at lots of sample reports from other inspectors and from the software company websites I settled on what I wanted my report to look like and formatted a document to use as a template. The SOP stuff is fill in the blanks (I use that as my onsite checklist to prompt me through the house) followed by empty space to type my narrative and insert pictures. I use an open source photo editor called PhotoScape to add arrows and captions, and do all of my writing in Word. Once my report is complete I use PDFCreator (more open source) to generate the client copy that is sent as an email attachment.

The DIY method isn't for everyone and there are costs to it in terms of time and effort, but if you can write well it might be worth a try. It works for me.

No matter what approach you take, if you are writing a report copyright your work.

Tom

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Don, I have been using pretty much the same system that you are describing for 14 years.

I use a handwritten 2 part carbonless field report that I give to my client in a folder on site. They get a copy, I get a copy. It is a check list/narrative covering the entire inspection. It is similar to HomeTech which Jim mentioned. (only cheaper and alot better for my reporting style)

Then I go home and prepare an addendum (summary) with photos, etc. that I email to them and their attorney, etc. the next day.

My field report is a word doc. which I can change when I want and print on my laser jet for each job.

You can see what the field report looks like at my web:

http://www.inspection2020.com/

Contact me if you are interested.

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I think you should avoid giving anything in writing until you're ready to submit the final report. After thinking and researching at home, you may end up changing you position on some things. If you provide two sets of written material that have conflicting information, that could be a problem.

Instead, I suggest doing the inspection and collecting notes, pictures and such. Conduct a verbal summary to the clients at the end of the inspection by going over the pictures or notes or both. I like scrolling through the pictures and using them as prompts to do a verbal summary. Then, take your notes and pictures home to write the report and get it right the first time.

Also, if you write notes that you intend to hand over, you need to spend time making sure they are correct and legible. On the other hand, when writing notes for your own use, any kind if chicken scratch will usually do.

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I have never given a report on site. I've always emailed them the same evening or next morning. Buyers, for the most part, have had no problem with this.

Like others have said, it's best to have a little time to think about the inspection and put the final touches on the report later.

Also I like to stay focused more on the inspection while at the house instead of focused on the report.

I still take some notes and lots of pictures and only enter some of the info onto a laptop.

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Lots of good free advice here. I second the thought that you need to concentrate on the inspection itself, not completing a form. I suggest you do your own or a friend's home first and come up with a method, or order, to your inspection. Create your own note form - I use a four page document that follows the order I like to follow during an inspection - with blank lines for the problems, but a list of thgings you can cross off as you have looked at them. I make sure to take a digital photo of everything I'm going to mention in the final report, even if it's just a photo of an area. By going through the photos I still occasionally catch something I had forgotten to note in writing. Get some software and try it, many give you a free download. I have used different software, right now using HomeGuage, but I have really customized the standard comments in it to suit myself. During the inspection, you can give your client a clip board with paper and tell them to take notes too, and at the end of the inspection, per John's suggestion, go over what you saw and their notes. Then you can produce a quality report, use plenty of the photos, and e-mail, or print and deliver.

And always remember, free advice is worth what you pay for it :)

Good luck, stay safe.

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  • 2 months later...

I've been at this for 13 years and have never seen a hand written report that I liked, especially one that I would use all the time. Not while there are computer generated reports that you can add photos to, work the summary as you go, back up and edit, and so on.

I'm sure there are plenty of hand written reports out there. I had some on hand years ago for the last minute buyers that had pushed their time down to the wire. But I just hated them and quit using them. I deliver the report the same evening on email and if that's not good enough I just can't help them.

I have missed several inspections recently because I could not be to the house the same afternoon. I just don't understand some of these buyers.

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