Sometimes there is nothing broken, but we think there’s a problem about to happen. A badly worn roof, a 35-year-old forced air furnace, a lot that directs all the surface water toward the house, or a corroded pipe are all examples of things that I think we should write up even if they’re still working. Where we think failure is imminent, we include it in our reports. If you were a lay person buying the house, wouldn’t you want to know?
Posts Tagged ‘Home Inspection’
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.
- I want to communicate clearly with clients, so that they understand and feel the same way about the house that I do.
- I want to be consistent throughout each report and from one report to the next.
- For every defect I want to provide the same type and depth of information.
- I want to make the same recommendations and observations for the same condition every time.
- I want to reduce errors.
- I want spell check to help me.
- I want a tool to make sure I’ve included everything I need.
- I want to keep report writing time to a minimum.
- I want templates that let me make lots of entries with a single click.
- I want extras like photos, illustrations and reference material to appear without a lot of work.
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.
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.”