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  1. #1
    John Steinke's Avatar
    John Steinke Guest

    Default Inspection Report Format

    Before getting into the specifics, I'd like to make a few general observations.

    The first is that, by definition, an inspection report is an opinion. Your opinion. No one else's. I don't care if you're repeating what someone else said - it has your name on it.

    What's a opinion? After all, it's been said that opinions are like fingers .... most folks have a handfull or two. So what makes your opinion stand out?

    One of the early chief engineers at Ford said it first: When everyone has an opinion, the opinion that's accompanied by data stands out.

    Now ... as to report format ....

    The most obvious part of a report is the title. This should instantly make clear, even at a casual glance, just what property is addressed by the report. Next declare when and for whom the inspection was done. Full disclosure.

    If the report is based, in part, on other inspections of the same property, this should also be declared.

    The 'meat' of the report is simply your conclusions / opinions. Like a school paper, this is a good time to use footnotes. The body of the report is not the place to cite code, discuss history, etc.

    Along with your conclusion, the body is also where you might find it appropriate to suggest a fix. If you do suggest a fix, be concrete and positive; don't just say "fix it." If you doubt a fix is practible, say so. If you're not qualified to suggest a method, declare your limitations.

    After the body of the report is the place for two other sections:

    The first, as mentioned, are the footnotes. Here is where you can elaborate- perhaps offering your opinions as well as to what would be better (perhaps because of more recent code changes). In the footnotes you have the opportunity to explain some of the factors that led to your opinion. For example, in a studio apartment you might want to explain how you determined where the 'kitchen' ended and the 'bedroom' began.

    The other is where you can discuss history, and other background information, that may be relevant to the property. For example, if you KNOW the place was under water in the 90's, or you KNOW the place was once considered as the site of the new bus terminal.

    Remember, the report is supposed to be read - so make it readable. If you spend all day with your nose buried in a code book, your writing is apt to adopt that style - a real put-off.

    Writing also tends to reveal your attitudes. If you think you're smarter than everyone else, that's sure to come through .... and not likely to win repeat customers.

    While you need to be clear, it is also necessary to avoid layers of qualifying statements - especially when facts are discoverable. "The house was built in 1966" sounds a lot better than "The house appears to be a mid-60's style ..."

    Finally, be very, very clear as to what you know is a fact, and what you think / conclude / believe / were told.

    As a closing statement, you might want to include an 'advert.' This is where you can list what sets you apart from the other guy


    Those are my thoughts. What are yours?.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Chicago, IL
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    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    Since I've stopped providing anything but printed reports, and I print them in disappearing ink, I no longer give a damn what's in there.

    Next, I'm switching to a checklist format, and faster-disappearing ink.

    My ultimate goal, however, is complete liability control: a report that fits on the back of my business card, written in invisible ink - the only way to make it legible is to burn the card.

    Don't laugh.

    I've already got one of the big associations interested.

    They are going to use the format for their Standards of Practice.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-14-2010 at 04:49 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  3. #3
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    Mar 2007
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    Connecticut
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    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    My thoughts are if that is your report writing style your customer will be pulling their hair out trying to figure out what the f you are talking about.
    That being said and knowing for a FACT that I am not the brightest bulb on the tree,
    Just be HONEST, Report what you see, Cut out all the CRAP, and Treat your client like family, THE GOOD SIDE,


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    1,078

    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    I don't have to worry much because my state SOP spells out specifically what they want to see in a report. I can add more if I choose but I gotta include their favorite things.

    I am a member of my associations Peer Report Review committee. I get to look at other inspectors reports. Whew! Inspectors voluntarily submit reports to be reviewed. Presumably they are sending what they think to be their best or a good representation of their reporting style.

    Most of the reports are just garbage. Misspelled words, improper grammar, lack of information, misinformation, fuzzy photos from too far away, contradicting statements, lousy formatting, endless disclaimers, rambling paragraphs, etc.

    Trim out all the fat. Cover page with address, client name, inspection company, inspector name and contact information. State requires inspector signature on cover page.

    Next comes a bullet list of basic conditions, temp, weather, sq ft. age, address, people present.

    Then jump into the report. 10 sections, Structural, Exterior, Roofing, Plumbing, Electrical, Heating, Cooling, Insulation & Ventilation, Interiors, Built-in Kitchen appliances. Each section has a statement listing the items the state requires to be inspected along with the word inspected. Then there are bullet items the state requires to be described. Supply materials: PEX, Waste Materials: PVC Then a defect statement sandwiching photos. One statement, 2 photos another statement. Top statement refers to the left photo while the bottom statement refers to the right photo. Another defect statement, 2 more photos, and and defect statement. Double space and on to the next section.

    State requires a summary page with a required disclaimer. So Summary heading, disclaimer and then a listing of all the defect statements.

    Other than the state required disclaimers, no other stuff. Nothing about how to fix, no links to useless DIY sites, no nuttin else. Email the PDF to the customer with a warm felt Thank You!

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    My take in a nutshell.... Most of us spend way too much time trying to disclaim and write our way out of lawsuits. Realistically, if you're going to get stung, you're going to get stung. No amount of typing, disclaimers and double talk prevent someone from sueing you.

    IMO, all the disclaimers in reports make you more likely to be found negligent because you hide the actual findings and recommendations in a bunch of fineprint. Become as educated as possible, do your best on each inspection and try your hardest to really connect with and help your clients and you'll avoid as many problems as possible.


  6. #6
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    Washington State
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    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    What was the question?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Inspection Report Format

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    Most of the reports are just garbage. Misspelled words, improper grammar, lack of information, misinformation, fuzzy photos from too far away, contradicting statements, lousy formatting, endless disclaimers, rambling paragraphs, etc. (underline mine MDT)

    I disclaim - clearly I hope - anything and everything that I would have been able to observe and fully evaluate at an "ideal" inspection, but that I could not at a given property - that might be twenty or thirty (or more) instances at a typical report, and there are usually at least a half dozen pictures in a given report to illustrate what I can't see, and way I can't see it.

    The goal is not to protect me if I get to court, the goal is staying out of court.

    It's part of a strategy that starts with the material I send to clients along with their inspection confirmation, continues during my pre-inspection presentation (which is also proved in written form), continues with verbal comments during the inspection, is reinforced by the disclaimers in the report, and is one of the possible problems I'm looking for in the follow-up call I make the day after the report is sent - no matter how busy I am with other things.

    I think many inspector are *way* to reluctant to disclaim - it's an important part of setting client expectations, and if done properly IMO can make you look more, not less, competent and concerned with your clients welfare.

    Now, how you disclaim, that's also important...

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 07-14-2010 at 05:22 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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