I’m Joseph Chavarria, starting my business here in Southern California.
I’m new to home inspecting but have spent most of my career in construction. My question is “How much information is enough.” For example, one will definitely report any deficiencies observed. However is it suffice to only comment on major deficiencies and just check off boxes or check mark as completed, depending on software used. I don’t have software purchased yet and would like to know what is enough? Do we just checkmark as observed without commenting.
What are the expectations of clients i.e. homeowners, sellers, agents etc. Could anyone elaborate any experiences or stories.
Your feedback is much appreciated!
Thank you Joseph Chavarria J&M Home inspections L.L.C
Is your state or munincipality licensed? I don’t believe California is. If it is they will have requirements for your reports (state SOP). Either way you want to find the names of some local inspectors. Go to their websites and look at a sample report. Pay note to what they are reporting (state requirements and extra). Try to determine the software they use (often noted on the edges of the sample pages). Download free trial software from those vendors whose reports that attracted you.
If you’re going to be a home inspector you need to research the competition. They may or may not be on this forum.
@rkenney is correct about licensing but there are requirements for CA.
Scroll down to the California Legislation Information in this link HERE there is a PDF file you can download and read that has those requirements.
Sound advice right there. Most report software companies have free trial versions. What works for others may not work for you. Play with some of them and buy what you can afford to start. If business takes off for you then you can afford to upgrade to more expensive software.
Get your hands on as many of your competition’s reports as you can to get an idea of how others in your area (or wherever) report. This question is a good one but realize it’s a bit like asking what shade of blue the sky is. I’m 22+ years in and wonder from day to day if I’m giving too much or too little.
I’ve got to give credit to Mike Crow on this one (Million Dollar Inspector Program). He used to say in his presentations (I sense he abandoned it because these days it may be non-PC) that a report should be like a woman’s skirt - “short enough to keep the reader’s attention but long enough to cover the subject matter”
As others have indicated, try several reporting software’s. Typically free to try for a month. Reach out to an inspector and ask them to help you use it, as much as you can.
Download mock inspection reports from home inspectors websites. That will help you understand of narratives flow.
I use Carson Dunlop-Horizon. It is a business and home inspection report. You fill in observation narratives.
You SoP identifies what structure, systems and components you report on.
The reporting narrative follows a pattern.
IE: Observation: Roofing: Observation: Sloped roof. Shingles. Damages, missing shingles. Damaged Drip-Edge flashing.
Recommendation: Recommend a licensed roofing contractor: 1: Repair any areas on the roof with missing or damaged shingles. 2: Replace damaged drip-edge flashing.
Limitation: Inspected from the grounds and attic space.
I tend to be shorter than most (usually around 25-30 pages), but I certainly provide all the relevant information. I will usually mention the defect and the consequences/importance of fixing it. I did browse the few local inspectors who put sample reports and, even as a home inspector I find them to be WAYYY too long. The client sees us as being the professional and they don’t want or need detailed explanations, just a quick run-through of what we found and what steps to take.
I have recently started offering a basic one page “checklist” inspection for warranty/maintenance inspections with most of the explanations done verbally and when given the choice, clients have taken the cheaper (and easier for me) option.
In 15 years and thousands of reports it’s doubtful that 10% my reports ran more than 20 pages.
Of course the the majority of homes inspected were constructed post hurricane Andrew, single story masonry, slab on grade with a shingle roof. Still, no one is reading 25 to 30 page reports.
I should have clarified: when I say 25-30 pages, that includes plenty of large format pictures, lots of blank space (to make it easier to separate by system), and some generic information (asbestos, radon, lead, etc) that takes up 2-3 pages.
Before I launched, I did some “second” inspections, where I went in for free and did the same inspection an established inspector already performed and compared the two reports. In one case, we found literally the exact same issues and mine was 32 pages and his was an incredible 88 pages, with all the legal disclaimers taking up 10 pages alone. As you said, NOBODY is going to read a long report and I got the impression the inspector was more concerned about not being sued than actually providing concise, practical information.
I’m probably 20-25 pages and that includes lots of pictures and some blank spots to separate things. I’d say I average 15-20 pictures but sometimes have as many as 75 on a really bad place and the report could stretch to 30 or 35 pages.
I’m not sure what’s propagating it but there are a lot of newer inspectors in my area putting out 100+ page reports with hundreds of pictures, most of them just meaningless informational pics - “side of house”, “back of house”, “den”, etc. - almost like listing pics.
I think the whole huge report thing could be an attempt to skirt liability (albeit a poor one). They just fill the report with ever conceivable thing that could be wrong with a house and every disclaimer ever written.
As others have said, if your state requires a certain report format, start there. Next, look at your state SOP (or InterNACHI if your state doesn’t have one). Your SOP will dictate that you describe certain things, even if it’s not a defect, so include those items. After that, it’s up to you how you want to craft your final product (report). Do market research. Ask buyers and agents (the good ones that you trust) what they do and don’t like about reports they’ve seen. Most like brevity with descriptive pictures.
Here’s what I try to do: Keep the boilerplate liability stuff in your pre-inspection agreement. It clutters up the report. Each narrative should have what’s wrong, what happens if it’s not corrected, and what they should do about it (without telling them specifically how to repair it). Make it clear where the defect is located, and its scope. Include a close up (for detail) and far away picture (for context). Keep in mind that they’ve already seen the house at the showing. They’re not hiring you to tell them if the counter top is laminate or granite, or if the floor is carpet or linoleum. They’ve seen the house. They hired you to tell them if there’s anything with the house that can cost them money or hurt their family. Now if they’re out of state, you can be more accommodating and descriptive about the house as you feel is appropriate.
Just keep in mind that being overly descriptive with items that aren’t a defect will just add a lot of extra text to the report, encourage them to skim the report instead of reading it, and ultimately makes the really important information hard to stand out.
The report isn’t there to show how thorough you were or how knowledgeable you are. In other words, an overly technical report may stroke our ego, but it’s not valuable to the client.
Kyle I like your response, it correlates with some of the other response given. I’ll keep everything in mind like the legalities in the Pre-inspection agreement. I appreciate everyones responses as well. In summary, enough pictures yet don’t bombard them with trivial irrelevant too much detailed information.
Hello Mr. Kenny,
I appreciate your response. I haven’t researched yet for California SOP. However, this is sound advice and something I will definitely do to get a better understanding. Understanding your competitors will surely have a positive impact in my business. I really appreciate your words on researching their software. good advice!