Tennessee Home Inspection Report; please review

I have always been extremely unsettled about home inspection reports that disclaim things to protect our litigation liabilities and excessive use of “investigate further by another contractor”.

To me, inspection reports become pages and pages of what the home inspector did not do /is not required to do. I was drafted into the home inspection industry from real estate agents that also felt the same way. Their question to me was, “what do you really do”?

I have been using Dominick’s Home Inspection Pro reporting software for some time, but have been uncomfortable with its output. I’m one of those guys that is difficult to pry away from Microsoft Word templates where I can make the output what I want.

Well, yesterday I reformatted my template from Home InspectorPro and am extremely satisfied with it (personally). I can fulfill my state of inspection requirements in a matter of minutes.

Please take a look at my template and help me critique this.
This may only work for those of you that have a home inspection law, but can also be used with the NACHI standards of practice.

What I did was to cut and paste the actual home inspection law for the State of Tennessee into my inspection report software. The context of the report and blue font is the actual state law. I added one photograph and one discrepancy example. Each discrepancy will be posted under each section of the report and posted to the summary page if properly classified.

My thinking is that someone has put a lot of thought into creating home inspection procedures. Why re-create the wheel? Why do I have to tell someone that I can’t see their septic system because it’s under the ground? Why do I have to tell someone that I couldn’t inspect their HVAC system, because it’s too cold outside, or because home inspectors aren’t qualified to do this in the 1st place?!

Why do we have to reinterpret what the standards of practice are?

Actually, they’re quite clear! Why should I disclaim anything or recommend further evaluation on something that I am not required to be responsible for in accordance with standards of practice set by the state or your home inspection Association?

Why do we have to answer questions that have not been asked?

Why do we have to answer questions that a bottom feeding lawyer may ask in court? This doesn’t keep you out of court!

So, with this in mind, take a look at the basic format of my report. The state law says that you can add or go beyond the “standards” and put anything you want to “voluntarily” in any report that can be easily added.

The first thing that a lawyer representing a client is going to present in court is your home inspection report. This point is to question your business practices in Association with what is expected. What is expected by your client? Or what’s expected by the state or standards of practice of your home inspection industry?.

If the state law is right smack dab in the middle of your clients forhead in blue-and-white text, how can they dispute anything?

Maybe I’m missing something, but this seems to be totally elementary!
If you would be so kind as to review this concept (after putting aside all that you have been taught and have observed from past example) and give me your feedback. I see this concept as being a cure-all for all the legal litigation problems faced by home inspectors.

Nobody wants to make this so simple because they make money off of you!

Blow smoke up your clients butt with all this disclaimer protection stuff, they will perceive what are doing and try to sue the pants off of you!

Your home inspection report is all about credibility. It’s about client expectation. Your client sits there in court and cries how they misinterpreted what you said because you didn’t do it appropriately or use the incorrect wording. This is happening. I was sued because the lawyer could only say “I wouldn’t have phrased it a different way”.

Well guys, the SOP or your state law tells to exactly how you should phrase it. When the state says you will describe, then you simply describe it as they state it in the law. If the client misinterprets you, they are misinterpreting the law (not your problem). If their attorney cannot reinterpret the law for the client and sues you anyway then they are being negligent and probably need to be reviewed by the Bar Association!

It’s my opinion that I can advertise this reporting system to real estate agents who really don’t want their clients to be overcome with irrelevant stuff, resulting in the loss of the sale. Without becoming “a bed partner” to the real estate agent, you can perform your obligations to the client without creating undue stress, to an overstressed homebuyer resulting in a loss of real estate transaction.

We need to remain focused, and we need to meet the expectations of our clients and not produce an unnecessary burden on the real estate agent, who is not responsible for what we do.

Please review this report here:
http://www.midtninspections.com/TN_home_insp_report.htm

David that is why i like home gauge most of the thing you have sated are Already in the inspection I also give the sop to the customer . I use the kiss method (Keep it simple stupid) then 99% of of people understand it if we get to technical then they skip it or to Long . I try to go over everything that could be problems .
and give suggestions on how to keep the home (Maintenance tips and links to better the energy usage . How ever there is still that 1 % that you never keep happy. Btw I like the set up you have . I tend to load my reports with lots of pictures also

I think it is very relivant that the client reads the law “exactly” as they will see it if they get to court…

Yes, the more you say, the more chance of a screw up…

They skip 90% of your report, all of the time. The Realtor may discount 90% of the 10% left…

You get sued for the 1% to -1% (what you never said/did).

The maintenance tip is what your client remembers you by. Don’t discount them. t is 99% of what referral is about.

But, it must be controlled somehow in the report.
That is why I want my client at the inspection (or after) as much as possible.

Those 1% @ss holes is what kills us and there is NOTHING you can do about that with your report. But in this case, the law is clear and is spelled out in the report (verbatim)!

As a mimimalis report it might be Ok David. (I am not an Attorney)
I do believe you missed reporting on how you inspected the attic.

For me, I write everything in the report that I inspected. Example, the lights worked in the bedrooms, a sample of accessible bedroom windows were inspected and functional, there are no gutters on the roof…etc.

David, interesting approach there, congratulations for thinking outside the box.

When we try to explain everything it really does get too involved and will never include every angle possible.

I am always looking for ways to improve my reporting or really to speed up the process.
Since I inspect to meet four SOP’s its harder to do.

NC requires things SC does not and SC requires things NC does not.
Also include the two main association SOPs for advertising purposes since meeting NC and SC exceeds those anyway.

Great deal
I think you and i and are the same trail
Some say maintenance tips are not part of the inspection or energy tips but i add them and more positive than negative from both Realtors and customers , I have even got realtors ask if i can come do their home

Bruce, I think TN adopted your SOP.

Good catch Brian!
Without posting the report I did yesterday (1st report in this format) there are things covered below what you see here.

However, If I follow the posted state law, I only have to report what problems I found. If there is nothing, there is no need to report. This is the first reason I want the state law there. If I don’t report an issue, it’s considered “not there” under the law.

What you see here is what I MUST REPORT (as it says this in the blue test above). Means it’s been covered. If the state law says it must be reported on (regardless of issues) it’s what you see in this example.

This is NOT a short cut (unless you consider not posting 77 pages of disclaimers a shortcut, which I do!).

Everything still gets inspected…
Everything that is not a significant deficiency is not.
Yesterdays report was a house with maybe three issues. The report turned out to be 13 pages. Adding the maintenance and recommendations that I can’t seem to live without was also in there.

When I get on with this, I’ll post a real report (in time and permission).

I just want to present the “concept”.

Thanks for the input guys…!

I have a few Realtors that will not refer me to their clients. They have told me so. Price or otherwise…

But…

When it’s their kids house, who do they call?
…and there are no discounts…

For me if I do not write it, it was not inspected, old inspector technique. :smiley:

Me too!

But with things the way they are…

If the client does not show, that I will be inclined to write much more.

Yesterdays report, (first in this format) had 47 pictures and 27 narratives added.
The whole thing took me about 30 min.

The state part you see here takes 2 min!

(I also use voice dictation…)

This is just the start, not the finished report. As things get older and reports are not on the table still, I’ll post some full reports. I can’t do than till after the close of escrow!

Just looking for big foo-pas unseen by tired eyes! :slight_smile:

I emailed you my report from yesterday for grins.

Are you going to overload my email server!!! :wink:

I hope not

By the by this is from your state sop

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Is what you see in Blue in my report.

I MUST fill in the blanks (which will state why, if any of these could not be inspected).

In NC you would have to change the places that say “shall inspect” to “did inspect” to meet the NC SOP or some variance that actually says “I inspected this”.

The NC SOP was derived from some older ashi sop and then added to probably after TN adopted it.

See d.2 below, We have to move insulation to inspect behind it in certain areas on every house.

from SOP:
(d) The home inspector shall:

(1) Move insulation where readily visible evidence indicates the possibility of a problem; and
(2) Move insulation where chimneys penetrate roofs, where plumbing drain/waste pipes penetrate floors, adjacent to earth filled stoops or porches, and at exterior doors.

We also have to report the location, size and power source of the water heater:

from SOP:
(b) The home inspector shall describe:

(1) Water supply and distribution piping materials;
(2) Drain, waste, and vent piping materials;
(3) Water heating equipment, including fuel or power source, storage capacity, and location; and
(4) The location of main water supply shutoff device.

Yes David I read where you added your state’s SOP in blue throughout your report. It pretty much says what you SHALL inspect, not what you DID inspect. :wink:

Yes, the narratives will be in black for recommendations - red for significant issues below, along with pictures etc.

I only have done one report with this an it has not closed escrow so I will not post it.

You’ll just have to use your imagination! :slight_smile:

“A representative number of interior doors were operated”.

Sorry but that just doesn’t make for good customer service. In order to perform even a bare minimal inspection, you would have to enter a room. You have to pass through or at least operate each and every interior door. Why wouldn’t you test every one of them and state that? And if it was blocked open by personal effects, locked shut or didn’t operate properly, that too would be specifically stated.

All interior doors and hardware were operated and functioned satisfactorily at time of inspection.

OR if there are defects on one or more doors:

All interior doors and hardware were operated and functioned satisfactorily at time of inspection except those noted specifically below.

Doors are unique, unlike windows or electrical receptacles where you may only test a representative sample. But doors that you have to walk through in order to perform your inspection?

If you are going to build a template, you might as well add any options / language that you have used before. The initial build takes longer but once it is done and your own wording is incorporated, you only add new items that you run into.

JMHO. Best to you.

I don’t know about you all but i check all windows and doors and outlets in every room, Just for my peace of mind.

\This is about report writing, not inspecting.

You want to change the state law…

I want to get away from all this made up crap floating around in this industry.
You change the wording to the law here and where will this take you later.

This is exactly my point about all of this!
It doesn’t matter what you like or dislike. The law is the law.

Yes, I check every door. The law says you can exceed the rules. But, what if I get sued for a door? (slight chance) but it could be something else… I am required only to report what the law requires. If I happen to check every door, I’d say it covers the representative number required. There are a lot of doors with those damn over the door hangers that damage the door, and prevent closing them without removing all the clothes. If I don’t move personal property (which is also not required) and the door fails, I get sued… I’m not liable because I am not required to inspect all doors. Those hangers are responsible for most door damage. So there are two reasons not to have to inspect the door.

By the way, do you remove every child protection plug in wall outlets to test every receptacle? #1 you only have to test a representative number of outlets, #2 you don’t have to move personal property, #3 most of this child proofing is just inspector proofing! It may take 8hrs to inspect some of these houses. #4 do you move furniture to get at the child proof outlets?

Again, some of this disclaimer stuff is starting to show through, Home Inspectors are making up Standards of Practice as they go along. You can inspect more than what is required but when your report starts to look like 99 pages of “disclaimers” on things you are not required to inspect in the first place, I think it is a bigger disservice to your client and to the industry.

How many of you that have been sued were sued because your service was compared to what other HI’s elected to exceed in the SOP? The law suit becomes an interpretation of what is commonly done, rather than what is required by the standing SOP. This report format spells out what the law states. I can report anything I want to below these letters of blue. But the Standards are clear. And when you do go one step further for your client, it is more obvious that you did.

Been sued for an HVAC problem?
There is only about 1% of HVAC that you are responsible for in TN under the SOP.
This goes on in court because of implied interpretations of observations within our industry. Take a look at a dozen or so HI web sites and see what is said about HVAC. There are some, but not many HVAC guys doing HI. If you got in trouble over HVAC, it is likely you were trying to keep up with Joe Home Inspector or were assumed to be required to fully inspect this equipment.