Archive for the ‘The home inspection industry’ Category

Key elements of a report

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

The Standards give us a start. I’m going to build on their guidelines and tell you what we put in reports. I’ll list them first, then provide a comment on each.

  • Contract/inspection agreement
  • Executive summary
  • Descriptions
  • Limitations
  • Recommendations
    • Component
    • Condition
    • Implication
    • Location
    • Task
    • Time
    • Reference material

What clients want and what we want

Friday, August 15th, 2008

They want it to be clear, and they want it to be simple. What does the perfect report look like from the client’s perspective? “This is a good house; buy it.” Or “This is a bad house; don’t buy it.” At least, that’s all they’re interested in at the time of the inspection. Once they move in, it’s a different story.

What is the perfect report from our perspective? What I would like to say to clients is, “Just remember everything I told you as we went through the house. For all the things I said might be problems, get a specialist in to check it.”

We are not prepared to tell them what they want and they aren’t going to be happy with what we want, so we have to compromise. Let’s try this: “We’ll tell you, based on what we can see in a couple of hours, what’s broken or is about to break.” We might be able to work with this. Let’s look at what we should include in the report.

General writing goals

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Here’s what I think we are trying to accomplish when we write a report.

a. To help clients make their buying decision.
b. After they get settled in, we want to help them manage the home.
c. We want to minimize our liability and, if all goes well, do some marketing for ourselves.
d. We need to meet the Standards.

Why I Dont like Writing Reports

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Why I don’t like writing reports: Inspecting homes is fun and most clients are pleasant to deal with. Writing reports on the other hand is never fun. Why is that? There are a few reasons, at least for me.

  • We are trained as home inspectors, we are not trained as technical writers. We don’t have the skills we need out of the gate – at least I didn’t.
  • Through the course of our life, we talk more than we write, so it makes sense that talking is more natural. We are better at it.
  • Talking is multidimensional, while writing is one-dimensional. When writing, I don’t get a chance to use body language, tone of voice and there is certainly no feedback from my listener.
  • There are no do-overs in report writing: When I am talking to someone I can repeat things a different way if it’s clear the listener is struggling to understand. When I am writing, I only get one chance to get it right. It’s hard to know exactly what to include, because the audience is invisible and passive.
  • English is a very difficult language. It’s hard to speak well, and almost impossible to write perfectly.

If it’s worth writing reports…… it’s worth writing them well. We may as well do a good job because it will make clients happy and that should help our business grow. Equally important, if we do it badly, we might get complaints and our business may go away.

Definition of home inspection

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Here’s our slightly tongue-in-cheek definition of the home inspection profession. “A business with a logically high liability, slim profit margins and limited economies of scale. An incredibly diverse, multi-disciplined consulting service, delivered under difficult in-field circumstances, before a hostile audience in an impossibly short time frame, requiring the production of an extraordinarily detailed technical report, almost instantly, without benefit of research facilities or resources.”