Efficient home inspections

Hey guys, I am a new home inspector around the Waynesboro PA area, I wanted to ask anyone for tips or tricks on how to make my inspections be a bit more efficient. I did an inspection the other day on a 1800 sq/ft. 3 bed 2 bath house from 1920 and it just seemed like there was one thing after another that I was finding and Ive been praised by these clients for my thoroughness but I’ve also been told it shouldn’t take 8 hrs to complete. Because of the findings, it has been sort of challenging for me to trim the time back. Plus I’m still getting familiar with the home inspector pro software. Any ideas help. Thanks.

Yeah, those older homes might be little, but they can be exhausting to document even if they seem to be in decent shape. Just so much to explain. You’re on the right track, though. Impress the hell out of your clients. You’ll get faster on-site.
A few tips that may or may not help you. Don’t fill in every field on the software while you’re at the inspection. Use the software as a guide (so you don’t forget a category) and as a place to stick actual defect notes, but rely more on your photos. Use hand signals in your photos so you know which ones you want to write about later.

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I’ll try not relying on the software as much or making sure every field is filled in and rather let the house guide me and not the software. Thanks.

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Am I correct in assuming that you are attempting to write your report on-site?
Well, if you are… STOP IT!
You need to focus on one thing only while on site… INSPECTING… especially on older (Century) homes! These are my bread-and-butter inspections. My average time for a home you described is 3.0 hours. I’ve been inspecting since 1996.
Purchase a REAL camera, (doesn’t need to be very expensive), and use your phone as a ‘backup’ not your ‘primary’! Take quality pics, and a couple of each item you deem an issue. One close in, and one overview. More if the situation dictates.
Go back to your office to do the report. You should be able to knock out a quality report within 24 hours.
Once you master that, you can then figure out how to incorporate report writing into the on-site experience!
Remember… the more experienced of an inspector you become, the more issues you will discover, so getting faster is not always a good thing… within reason.

Good luck.

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You didn’t say how much of your 8 hours was on site. I just take notes on site and write the report back in the office. I use system type reporting (not room by room) as do most seasoned inspectors. For notes I generally just take pictures of defects and locations (water and fuel valves) i want to report. Regardless of what you find in the electrical panel, take a picture of the open panel and place it in the report to show you inspected it. While I may complete the report the same day, my delivery is always the day after. Give yourself some breathing room.

Chances are your phone camera takes pictures that are too large (megapixels). An older real camera with a lower megapixel count works better. I use a Nikon Coolpix S4 with 6 megapixels and 10x optical zoom.

1920s house can be a monster!

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I fill out my software onsite as I’m doing the inspection, I also take pictures that get inserted into the line item of the defect, or for informational purposes such as data plates and pictures of major appliances. I inspected a 7K sq ft home with 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths yesterday, it took me 4 hours onsite and the report ended up being 80 pages long. I was in the attic (there were 2 attic spaces) for 45 minutes and found damaged trusses among other issues.

I’m assuming you mean 8 hours onsite, 8 hours is a considerable amount of time to inspect an 1800 sq ft house, but if that what it takes you to comfortably perform the inspection, then that what it takes.

With time, you’ll get an inspection procedure down that you’re comfortable with and you’ll learn to manipulate & maneuver your software more efficiently, then you should be able to cut that time down.

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I myself use HIP but I do not use the mobile app. I use a point and shoot camera. I start on the roof first, then exterior, except crawlspace. then inside I start in the kitchen and then bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.
Last I do the attic and then finish outside on the crawlspace.

As I go around I snap photos of defects. I am not writing my report on site, it takes too long to mess with the app going from one section to the next, that time adds up to allot of wasted time. I would take me 2 hours max to do that size of house. I do not take notes or anything, I just take photo’s as the photo is my note on a defect. Once I get back to my PC at home I upload the photos and start the report. It can take me 1 to 3 hours to do it, But usually about 1.5 hours start to finish. Longer if the house house has lots of weird defects that I have to write the narrative for that is not in my template.

But this is what works for me. I know new inspectors like to use their phone for everything these days. If you need to use your mobile app onsite, You need to work on your template in the way you Inspect, arrange the sections to the rooms you do first to last, That way you are not going to sections out of order. Did you create your own template or did you use the one that comes with HIP? the stock template is really just a base to get started, It really needs lots of work. Also depending on the type of report you are doing, I hate checklist reports, I use narrative report only. I do not need to mark everything I inspected, its just stupid and a waste of time and really makes a report look bad. As You should inspect everything, no need to report that you did. I do just defects and the required Internachi SOP items I need to report on. If you need any help with your template I can send you one of my old ones that I spent hundreds of hours creating. It would be a multi-summary report. You can edit it from there. send me a email and I’ll send it to you. Some guys out there will charge a couple hundred bucks for their report. But I’m I nice guy. also my report includes a Re-inspection section, Sewer scope section.
William@hhinspection.net

Where are you getting your narratives from?

It takes a long time to find the one that fits your defect. I used voice dictation for years. It’s even faster to type what you need than hunt for what works.

I set my template with only narratives that fit every defect of that type. What it is (based on SOP). Were it is.

Lets say you have a loose toilet:
Loose toilet.

Master Bathroom.

Does not function as intended.
Requires repair.
Requires further evaluation.

Take a picture.
Add anything to describe the issue.

I set each section by SOP. ie:

(7) Heating Systems.
(b) The home inspector shall describe:

  1. The energy source for the system; and
  2. The heating equipment and distribution type.

The stuff like:

(a) The home inspector shall inspect permanently installed heating systems including:

  1. Heating equipment;
  2. Normal operating controls;
  3. Automatic safety controls;
  4. Chimneys, flues, and vents, where readily visible;
  5. Solid fuel heating devices;
  6. Heat distribution systems including fans, pumps, ducts and piping, insulation, air
    filters, registers, radiators, fan coil units, convectors; and

Needs to be done by you, but not in the report if there is nothing wrong.
You don’t need to report what is OK, just to show you did something for your $$$. A lot of people do, and it just adds a lot of time.

Your inspection agreement states you’re doing all this stuff, so you don’t need to say it again. And, should you accidentally state it was OK, but you made a mistake and forgot, saying it was OK is worse than forgetting to do it.

Agree with not doing the entire report onsite if it’s taking too much time. On a more global level, on houses with lots of problems don’t expect you’ll find everything with a system. Thinking you are and, worse yet, leading the client to believe you are is a HUGE liability. Once things are just screwed I just give some examples and move on. Write it up as, “further evaluation of all aspects of the XXX system is recommended.” Over the years I’ve actually gotten pretty quick at writing up the dump houses. I’d slowly go more general always expect someone to complain but they never do.

A great example is heavily deferred maintenance on the exterior - Sure, I walk around the whole house looking for things but before I’m past one side I already know what I’m going to write. Grab 8 or 10 pics and put 4 or 6 of the best in the report with a recommendation for evaluation of the entire building envelope and that there may be concealed damage that can only be discovered once the damaged materials are removed for replacement.

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I just wanted to add that, like others, I mostly just take pictures onsite and do things like take a picture of the GFCI receptacle with my hand and a thumbs up to indicate that it tested fine. The only time I use the mobile software is to document something that is missing that I might forget. But, I even cheat with that too… For a bathroom missing an exhaust vent, for instance, I take a picture of the empty ceiling that reminds me there was no exhaust vent.

The reason for all of the above is speed and efficiency. I compose the report 10x faster using a computer monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

I am known for being real thorough. Even so, I am thinking I could have likely inspected your subject house in about 2.5 hours onsite and perhaps 2 more creating the report.

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Your speed will pick up. It takes time.

Now is the time to set a routine. Once you get a routine down, and follow it each time, your speed will pick up. When you arrive, do a quick walkthrough of the home to get an idea on the layout. While you’re doing this, adjust the thermostat so there is a call for cool. This way the AC is ready to be checked when you get to it. Also check to see if the utilities are on. Knowing right away that utilities are turned off allows you to make a phone call to get the water or electricity turned on. Typically, someone will show up to do this while you are inspecting the exterior, garage, & roof. I always work in a counterclockwise direction when I inspect. It may sound weird, but I work faster and see better working in this direction. The only exception to this is having the kitchen as my starting point on the interior, regardless to the layout. Because of appliances, I always start here. This way you do not have to wait for the dishwasher to finish before leaving. I also go start the washing machine before moving on to the rest of the home. Typically, by the time that I work my way back to the laundry room, the washer has gone through its cycle. Let the inspection dictate how you enter things into your software instead of your software dictating how you inspect. As an example, in grounds, don’t go look at the entire sidewalks & driveways, then all of the grading, then every tree & shrub, then the gas meter, then look for each hose bib, ETC. All of the categories will be filled out as you work your way around the home. I also do a visual & thermal scan of each room before entering it. Starting with the floor first, then walls, and finish with the ceiling. After doing this, I then check the receptacles, windows, ETC. Again, this prevents you concentrating on software and then, looking at the components.

Each home will dictate how long the inspection will take. Vacant houses go faster. Older homes go slower. I love having the buyers at the inspection. However, I have learned how to be friendly without letting them sidetrack me from my routine. The longest inspection time per sq foot I ever did was right at 2 1/2 hours per 1,000 sq feet. This happened because I allowed the buyer to continually disrupt my routine. This will never happen again. I figure an hour for each 1,000 sq feet.

As you get experience and more comfortable, you will also learn to unconsciously inspect with your other senses. You will start to notice things like short cycling furnaces. You will also learn tricks like leaving your keys at the thermostat or range, so you don’t forget to turn it back or off before you leave.

Hang in there. It gets easier.

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My on-site inspection ended up being 8 hours after all was said and done packed up and leaving. From what everyone has mentioned and what I did on-site, it’s starting to be clear that I need to focus less on the software and let the house guide me through.

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Thanks for the help, I think I just need to focus more on reporting defects and take pictures, then report later off-site the rest of the details on the home.

That’s what I do, but having a good template will really save you tons of time doing the report. You need to take advantage of the features HIP has, like captions narratives, lists, anything that make the report writing faster.

I just messaged you and attached my old template.

This right here :point_up_2:

Like others, I use HIP and have found that learning to use the mobile app on location adds a lot of time to the inspection. The mobile version is kinda clunky anyway.

Honestly, you’d be better off doing what many have already said. Take notes and pics while on site and finish the report on the PC at home. At least for now. The biggest thing about HIP that will save on time is your template. I spent countless days building all of mine. Refining them is almost a constant task, but the most important thing is to set up your template structure based on your routine. Incredible time saver. The templates that come with the software are terrible IMHO. Build your own that works for you. It will take time but it’s worth it.

Over time, you will learn what issues are most common and situate those comments at the top of the list if you want to use canned comments.

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We use HIP software too and on our own custom template. We also use a point and shoot camera and upload and slot the photos back at the office. We like to keep our devices (phone or iPad) in the kitchen and use that as our base. We stop by periodically and input the data into the template, when we leave the house we have around 90-95% of the template completed. A home this size and age would be 3 hours max, most likely around 2.5 hours on site. Then about 30-45min back at the office to add photos, clean up the verbiage and proofread a few times before it is sent to the client.

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When starting out with new software or conducting home inspections, it’s natural for the process to take longer. Over time, you’ll become more efficient, but my advice is to never compromise the thoroughness of your inspection report. Personally, I spend 3 to 4 hours or more on a home inspection, ensuring that I’m 95% done with the report before leaving. Inspectors who rush through reports in under two hours may risk missing critical details and potentially facing legal issues. :house::mag:

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Old head using HIP here. Preserver with using HIP mobile, you will get faster as you become more familiar with the software. I use the software by using a stand alone camera and uploading bulk from the sd card as some here have advised, and it works for me BUT if I had it to do over again, I would force myself to preserver and learn to use mobile. In the long run using mobile with phone camera is a much faster and efficient method. This will buy back your home life! You will go from spending hours to minutes on the desktop. I am an old dog who has a difficult time learning new tricks and have resigned myself to spending extra time at home office finishing reports as I have attempted several times to “relearn” and force myself to use mobile but have failed each time due to muscle memory reverting to inspecting with point and shoot camera. Stick with using the mobile, go through the HIP tutorials and practice, practice practice. You will be glad you did if you stick with it. Soft ware is flexible enough to let you do it either way but slow down and do it once on site, review and polish on desktop. Then go enjoy life.

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My memory isn’t that good. I fill the hard drive between my ears quickly and have to clear it. I inspect an area, go the laptop and fill in that section. I think my computer time on site averages adding about 30 minutes to my inspection time. I, too, do a lot of old homes. I’ll be at similar home 3-4 hours, but the house and questions from a client can add time. Then another 30-45 minutes at the home office finishing the report and writing any essays. I was in a 800 sq ft one hundred year old house yesterday almost four hours. Every step was a What-In-The-World moment and discussion. The client was undeterred.
I also use a real camera. Way, way better than a phone or pad camera.

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