Beyond the "Best software"

Many ask, “What is the best software” in hopes that finding the “perfect” one will help them complete reports in the fastest.
I believe there are many other factors that dictate how fast you are capable of completing your report & thought an open discussion would help add some context to “Reporting writing time” beyond just software brand.

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On a 20 yr. old, 2000sqft home I average:

•3.5 hours inspecting & client walk-through
•2 to 3 hours compiling the report off-site
•Report will average 50 seperate deficiencies (some occuring at multiple locations)
•85 pictures & graphics; each with their own caption

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More detail, more time
Here are some things that likely increase my report writing time regardless of software. I can probably cut my time by eliminating these thing but don’t to compromise the quality of information I provide. (sometimes I wonder if my client would even notice/care)

• I choose to have knowledge of & report on more things than required by my SOP minimum

• Not all, but many times I slightly edit a narrative to be more specific to the situation or home rather than use very general narratives that are less informative but can fit any situation at the touch of a button.

• I capition each picture (E.g. Living room, east corner of roof, under 2nd bathroom sink, etc.)
70 pics in report on average.

• I enter in water heater, HVAC & kitchen appliance data (ie. Make, model, serial)

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Efficiently navigating software:
I use a mobile software that is completely capable of delivering on-site reports, however, the back & forth within the software while inspecting takes way longer than if I sit down & do it afterwards.

My software’s process to fully enter an item for on-site reporting:

1)Tap appropriate section,
2) Scroll to appropriate system & tap,
3) Scroll to appropriate component & tap,
4) Take photo,
5) Scroll through 20 to 70 narrative titles
(Sometimes open narrative title to see if the whole narrative fits the defect)
6) Select appropriate narrative,
7) Edit narrative specifics if necessary
8) Draw annotation,
9) Caption the picture (E.g right side of home)

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Wow, Brandon! That is a lot of time per inspection.

When I was doing inspections, it was rare that I spent more than 3 hours and done but I did everything, except email the report to the client occasionally, on site.

Rarely did I have to add an addendum.

Edit: If I was starting out I would try Jeff Pope’s:

https://web.inspectornexus.com

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No stone left unturned!
I do get the feeling I am over delivering compared to the norm here.

…but then again, maybe I am doing something right as most of my business is from client referrals.
I’m in my 20th month of business, I avg. 8 inspections every week, don’t work weekends (watch my kids) & don’t advertise outside of my website.

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Same here, Brandon.

You’ll get there. You’re on the ball!

Great topic.

My process is very similar to yours

#5 can potentially be the most time consuming. Many of my items will have 150+ narratives (quite literally) and to scroll through those would be mind numbing. So, we created a very easy search method. By entering one or two key words, all applicable narratives filter in. The more key words, the more the search is narrowed. Once the appropriate narrative is found, it’s just a tap and if necessary, that narrative can be edited from the same screen.

Additionally, in my app, the narratives used most often will eventually appear on top, which minimizes searching altogether.

I don’t caption many photos and I try to limit annotations (circles, arrows and boxes), but this is just my preference. If I choose to do so, it’s a pretty simple process while still in the same section of the report.

So, on a water heater for instance, I have 15+/- different items that I will inspect and report on. In HVAC there are generally 20 to 25 items.

In a water heater with multiple defects, I can inspect the heater, enter all info, pictures (including any editing and or annotations) and appropriate narrative(s) within 3 or 4 minutes.

With the HVAC system, if there are no defects I might spend 5 to 7 minutes focused directly on its components. Even with multiple defects, the entire HVAC inspection rarely exceeds 3 or 4 minutes of data collection and entering pictures & narratives into the report. So the entire HVAC inspection and reporting time doesn’t generally exceed 15 minutes.

So, back to “Beyond The Software.”

Obviously, the most important thing is to provide an accurate report based on the property conditions. Having the knowledge to discover defects is critical. Having the knowledge to properly communicate conditions (whether through narratives, pictures, check lists or a combination of methods) is also critical. No software can really help with this, although some can be used as a general “guide.”

Shaving time off your process (IMHO) is highly software dependent. Not only do you need a software that is conducive to a timely completion, the inspector needs the experience to prepare an accurate assessment of the home, regardless of the reporting method.

For new inspectors, completing a report onsite may be well out of reach. But if your goal is to one day do it successfully, you should begin training yourself to produce your desired result. Once you become a “busy” inspector, it’s hard to make changes while keeping momentum.

I regularly perform 17 inspection per week (while taking Sunday off) and never have the need to finish the report at home.

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Man, Jeff, I wish I was just starting my career. Your software sounds great for my style of inspecting. :grin:

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What software do you use? I use Homeguage and my process pretty much mirrors yours. I have a very detailed inspection process and report. My inspection time is a little longer because I take elevation measurements and do thermal imaging on every inspection but I take pride in that and my level of service allows me to charge more $$. However, the detail and amount of time spent on each inspection/report will soon be a big factor in limiting my growth. I have been looking at my reports more and more lately trying to find areas to trim down to reduce the report writing time. Although I find value in all the information that goes into the report, I feel the customer could care less a majority of the time. They usually just want to know what problems were found and that’s it. I have seen several inspection reports from different local companies and I will say it astonishes me how little detail and pictures there are. Many of these are from well established Inspectors/companies that I know do a decent amount of volume. I think it’s all about finding a happy medium with reporting and not going overboard.

I would bet most, if not all, of those companies are multi-inspector firms and are beholden to realtors to stay booked. They are dependent on volume to survive.
You say you take pride in your level of service, and charge appropriately. What do you do when you make cuts, and that level of service drops (which you may not immediately see the results of) to where your future business if affected. It may not be so easy to regain your loss, if at all possible.

Me too! His software sounds well thought out and by a Professional to boot!

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Most of them are multi-inspector firms. However, there are some that have really good reputations. I absolutely do take pride in my service but I feel there may be some areas that could be trimmed and would have minimal/if any impact on the client. Mainly I am talking about reporting. Again, if the Client does not see the information as beneficial or is not utilizing the information then why provide it? That is all that I am saying. Just as the OP said, he feels like he is over delivering. I don’t think it hurts to take a look at things to improve your productivity without sacrificing your quality of work and customer satisfaction.

Do you know this for fact? How do you know? Do your clients tell you this, or are you taking the feedback from random realtors as fact???

No, I do not know this for a fact and no I have not surveyed my clients. What I am basing my assumptions on is the level of detail (again, mainly report writing) that I see many other Inspectors providing. If they are successful and respected Inspectors then by deductive reasoning I am making the assumption that their clients and realtors are happy with their level of reporting. Did you or have you ever surveyed your Clients to see what information they value in you reports? I would venture to say most never have. This would be an interesting thing to do.

I wonder too. Evidently the general consumer in my market is accepting of these bare bones inspections & reports because those guys stay busy & aren’t that much cheaper. $50? I f thats what my market want, hell, I can give it to them & take a load off.
Why don’t I? All my clients are really happy with my service & many email me back about how they really appreciate the detailed inspection & report. I don’t advertise outside of my website & get most of my inspections by past client referrals. Not bad for only having 400 past clients.

I don’t want to start cutting service to make my life easier & undermine what I feel is a strong & honest reputation that I have built.

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That is a great feature!
My stay alphabetically.

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Nice viewpoint, Brandon!

You’ll have 1,000 inspections in no time!..onward and upward. :smile:

Tomorrow morning’s inspection is a 2016, 2500sqft home that is vacant & my client will not be attending. My software & defect recognition/knowledge is capable of on-site reporting. It is just me that feels I take too long on-site & afraid I will miss something trying to do on-site reporting.

Normally, I would inspect & photograph this situation in 2.5 hours. Then I would go home & slot photos, choose narrative & annotate pictures for 2 more hours. 4.5 total.

I will give this a true effort & won’t deviate or reduce what I normally include in a report. Let’s compare how it goes.

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I don’t report on site. I feel my on site time is for inspecting and taking photos and one on one with the clients if present, plus I take between 200 - 500 photos on an average residential inspection. Then back at the office with a coffee, batch add my photos, caption what’s needed. I do my report in a condition/implication/recommendation type. I do include types/brands/locations/specifications/average lifespan/unit ages, and any other information I feel can be useful to my clients. Currently, I have my HIP template set up to use my photo captions as my conditions, and expand on them as needed. I also include general maintenance tips/recommendations and a cost estimation guide for residential renovation & improvements. I’ve received great reviews in various ways for my services and reports. I’ve also had clients who has hired me to do more than one inspection, and has seen my reports from my original old program, and now from Home Inspector Pro, and I have received some great feedback. I am always looking for more to add to the program! :slight_smile:

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