Posts Tagged ‘Guidelines are not rules’

Guidelines are not rules

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Based on recent conversations with some inspectors, I fear there is a problem that may be hurting your business by creating unhappy customers, while increasing your liability.

Virtually all report writing systems have a bunch of standard items. They are easy to use. Most inspectors have some guidelines for report writing – e.g. I report defective electrical outlets as being in various locations, rather than naming two locations and missing several I did not test. These guidelines are often not written down; it’s just what you do every time you see a situation. It’s why you get more comfortable with experience: you have seen it before and thought through how to handle it already.

Here is what I believe:

  1. You are not constrained by the items in your report writing tool.
  2. You are not bound by any guideline you follow, whether written down or not.
  3. You are bound by good professional judgement. Change, remove or replace an item if does not fit the situation. If there is nothing in your database that describes the situation adequately, add something.
  4. I am seeing inspectors who are unwilling to customize reports to describe what is there. Is it fear of making a mistake? Is it laziness? I don’t know. But I believe it is hurting those who do it.
  5. Deviate when common sense dictates – e.g. if you are in a large home with a large fee and there is very little wrong, and the client asks you to record where you found the electrical outlet problems, by all means do it, even if you have to add something to your report. Also, report that there may be others since you could not test them all. Good customer service – no liability increase. Win-win.

There are lots of guidelines to help you follow the only rule – “Do the right thing – for your customer and for you.” It may take a little longer, but it will help you and your business.”