Narrative vs Checklist reports

Originally Posted By: bsmith
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I have been inspecting for a year now and business is picking up. I have been doing a data collection list at the inspection and then writing narrative style report with digital pictures. The response has been great but the reports take far too much time to write. I need a good check list NCR report that I can augment with a narrative summary ( with pictures). Any suggestions? Amerispec uses a nice version that I like, but I don’t think it’s available to anyone outside their company. The standard ITA forms are too wordy. Any thoughts?

Thnaks, Bill Smith

Originally Posted By: kmcmahon
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Reporthost is good…takes awhile to get all set up the way you want, but should cut down on the time after it’s all set up the way you want it.

Wisconsin Home Inspection, ABC Home Inspection LLC

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Originally Posted By: rcallis
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I also use Report Host, I like it very well. You need to take time to tweek it a little on the field notes. I ordered some other report systems but I like this best so far.


Originally Posted By: tallen
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I would recommend either 3D or Inspect vue R3. R3 Just added a new alternate library of standard narratives. In total that makes around 22,000 that come with the software. It is pricey though. I would get all the demos you can. Then decide what fits your style best.

I have put the past behind me,

where , however, it now sits, making rude remarks.

30 Oct 2003-- 29 Nov2005

Originally Posted By: dharris
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I like 3D, although it may be pricy, it is still less than 3or 4 inspection to pay for it.

A common statment make by experienced inspectiors is [identifing defects is 40% and proper documenation is 60%,]

There are guys that sell the 3D program with good narritives. it sure saves a lot of time starting up, I think they are listed on the 3D site, One of the guys is from south of Tucson and I think another guy is in the mid west

I found that I spend 8-10 hrs a month updating data that I obtained from a inspecter with over 20 yrs experience

Originally Posted By: Guest
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So much of the boiler plate is written in third person…“the inspector observed” “it was apparent to the inspector.” We have to be careful to write clear concise narrative, in the first person that is easily understood by someone who knows nothing about homes.

I use Inspect Express from Dev Wave , the pre-written boiler plate is exhaustive and the editing that needs to be done normally entails just deletion of items that may be included that I don't need. Overall it's an excellent program, but even IE's boiler plate is too "fancy".

It doesn't "appear" that there's a double tap or "appear" that there's a leak beneath the toilet.

The panel is double tapped in several locations, and the toilet is leaking. Period.

With all the inherent inadequacies that I've seen (and written) in reports, I still believe that a narrative style, or semi narrative style report offers more to the client than a checklist.

Originally Posted By: dleech
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I use a check list report and leave it with the client at the site. The check list is in a binder and has the contract , all the check lists, and useful information for the client. In our area the report is usually wanted on the spot and I do not release the report without a check.

I advise the client that I will follow up in a few days with a narrative summary that I use to summerize the insection. I review the pictures and then write the report and include the advice to have a pre closing walk through.

You could argue that this is double reporting, and a waste of time, however I am a new inspector and I use the narrative to add any items that I may have missed and to re-enforce safety.

Whould you rather fly with a pilot that uses a narrative pre-flight inspection or a check list?

David Leech

Originally Posted By: rmoewe
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Spend the money and get great software that you comfortable with. Many will allow you to print a summary repot in the field and the a full report with pictures at the office. Many use a PDA, all you do is download and print. I use Porter Valley, and would not trade it. They also have a checklist version now available.

Originally Posted By: mbartels
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My advice is to just make your own.

If you like the ameri-spec report, just make your own copy. Of course you will have to change some things around as to not interfere with copyrights. This can easily be done on Word, Publisher, or I have heard of some other software but can’t remember which one.

I have mine done in Publisher, but it can be done in word also. I think that a check list can be great if laid out nice. The biggest beef I had was the lack of comment area. I combined styles from ITA’s Matrix, AHIT, Home gauge, Ameri-spec, US Inspect, and some others I had never even heard of. Go through all the reports you can find and take what you think is best from all of them. melt it all together, and come out with a great report that no one else has that works perfect with the way you inspect.

The problem with commercially available reports is that they try to please every one. If you make your own, you can make it area specific, and inspector specific.

What I believe makes my report better than the average checklist is the fact that…

It is easy for myself and my client to read.

It is a lot better than spending an extra 20-30 min typing and printing

Under every sub-title there is a comments section. (why do you need boiler plate info?)







line for write in________________________


etc. etc. etc.
All things labeled POOR or comments are transferred to summary page when I go over report with the customer.

The simple fact of adding a comment line under every thing gives me the speed of a check list with the ability to write in odd defects or anything not typed into the report. All POORs are in orange and all SAFETY HAZARDS are printed in red. This way it stands out for me and my client. Also helps me not miss anything for the summary page.
With all that said, the checklist has only one drawback I have found.
This shows up when you go into a house that is very old and has a lot of problems. Sometimes there is so much crap to report that a narrative would be a little nicer.
On the other hand I don't like doing these anyway. I feel as though I am ripping off the customer. I am very honest when people call and actually turn a lot of work away because of this. I just don't feel right charging some one over $300 bucks when we both know the place needs a full renovation.
HVAC- Recommend HVAC contractor re-evaluate boiler. (75 years old)
Electrical- Rec sparky ( Elec 60 years old )
Plumbing- Rec plumber (Pipes 60 years old, water heater 25 yrs old)
Roof- Recommend roofer (roof 30 years old and leaks like crazy)
These people don't need a home inspector, they need a licensed contractor to do a full renovation.
I'll stop now.

Originally Posted By: rray
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Hey, Chad.

When I started, I originally did as you apparently do: "The toilet is leaking." My attorneys and my E&O insurance company didn't like that. I now use "The toilet appeared to be leaking."

This is a litigious industry, and I pay my attorneys well to track court cases and keep me informed when something occurs. I also communicate often with my E&O insurance company, which I think is why my E&O premiums have fallen the past two years. They advise me, and I have to believe that I am paying them for good advice, so I follow it.

Mileage in your area, of course, might vary.

Home inspections. . . .
One home at a time.

Originally Posted By: ecrofutt
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I currently use Palm-Tech which I like alot, but am considering a switch to HomeGauge.

I checked every demo available when I started and settled on Palm-Tech. You can do checklist or narrative, whichever trips your trigger. Even comes with a Texas template for those Texas guys.

However, the report and digital photos are two separate documents and two separate programs to prepare them. I'd like to be able to have the photos next to the pertinent text.

HomeGauge lets you do that.

Erby Crofutt
B4U Close Home Inspections
Georgetown, Kentucky

Originally Posted By: bsmith
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Great advice. Thanks to all of you. After processing all the info I’ve recieved from this board, local inspectors and tghe internet I’ve decided to go with the ITA Matrix deluxe reports and supplement them with text and photos. The reports come in a binder filled with all kinds of info that people are not likely to ever look at again, but that type of report is very popular here on Long Island. I will be able to present a finished report to the client right after the inspection and then send them the additional info. Anyway, taht’s my plan at the moment. All of the above is subject to change (and what in life isn’t?).