Should inspectors write their report observations in the past tense?
I say, “Yes.” It may help reduce your liability.
Isn’t the report a document stating the condition of the property at the time of the inspection? Yes. Then why use the present tense?
At the time you are writing your inspection report, you have already completed your inspection, so you should use past tense in your report to record what you did, what you saw, and what you recommend based upon the inspection performed in the past.
When explaining what you did in your inspection, use past tense. Whatever you did, opened, turned on, checked, saw, observed, found, discovered, though, deduced, guessed, recommended - ALL happened at some specific, definite time in the past and is not still being done.
I walked upon the slow-sloped roof and saw a large standing puddle. It was more than 48 since the last rain storm.
There were no indications of moisture intrusion as I performed my visual observation of the 2nd floor bedroom ceiling.
Your inspection results were relevant only in the past or to a particular time and should not be accepted as a present observation, present condition, or present truth.
PRESENT TENSE: The heating system is turning on, is functional and is responding to normal operating controls.
PAST TENSE: The heating system turned on, appeared functional, and responded to normal operating controls at the time of the inspection.
Are there times when an inspector use the present tense?
You should write your report in the present tense when you want to express something that will continue to be true.
**PRESENT TENSE: **InterNACHI is the world’s largest trade association of residential and commercial building inspectors.
Use present tense to express general truths or facts or conclusions supported by your inspection results that are unlikely to change – in other words, something that is believed to be always true.
PRESENT TENSE: The garage door is one of the largest moving objects in a home. Improperly installed “safety eyes” of the garage door is a main cause of property damage or bodily injury. Testing and monitoring the garage door operating is an important task related home maintenance.
You might use PRESENT TENSE to report your final conclusions. You might use present tense to discuss your observations and their implications.
The roof covering material was in poor, deteriorated condition at the time of the inspection. Roof covering in poor condition will likely present a water intrusion problem in the future. Water intrusion and hidden moisture damage is a major concern when the roof system is in poor condition. The roof system requires further evaluation and major repair by a professional.
Consider writing your reports observations in the PAST tense.
It may help reduce your liability.