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  1. #1
    daniel nantell's Avatar
    daniel nantell Guest

    Default home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    New at the Home Inspection business and tried using a voice activated recorder and head set and it worked pretty well, saves time while walking and trying to write ,and gives you time for sit down when you start putting info. in computer, any other newbees tried this approch.

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    OREP Home Inspector E&O Insurance

  2. #2
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    I've used a standard mini-tape recorder since day 1. I tried a digital for a few days but it just took too long to start recording each comment. I've been told there are better digital recorders out there but I'm happy with my 'antique'

    Since I started doing digital pics a few years ago I rely much less on the recorder but it's almost like a security blanket..... and I still do catch a few things off of the tape in most cases.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    For me the problem with a voice activated recorder is that it will also record comments to clients, and when reviewing my voice notes I want them as succinct as possible.

    This is the one I use, you can buy them for much less than retail refurbished:

    Panasonic Digital Voice Recorder PCERRUS006

    the cradle's speaker and dedicated, human-finger-sized FWD<-->REV controls make it MUCH easier to transcribe notes while working at a keyboard.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  4. #4
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    I've used digital recorders for 10 years. The first ones available were little flat cheap Chinese things with about 15 minutes total capacity. Had to talk real fast and the playback was almost undecipherable.

    They've come a very long way now and nearly anything that's on sale at Sam's, et al. will do. I opt for those without the voice activation because I prefer not to waste memory space and editing time on my nearly constant stream of expletives.

    Mine cannot record comments to clients as I never make comments to clients until the inspection is finished. No client ever has or ever will accompany me on some reality-TV-walking-tutorial-poor-GD-excuse-for-a-real-home-inspection.

    Having said that, I sometimes leave it on during my client chats, if I need a record of what the client/agent/seller/builder says. Then it's helpful if you have a recorder that you can download onto your computer as .mp3 and save it along with the report for future reference.

    I have been known to email builder comments to their corporate office with grand results.

    Aaron


  5. #5
    Tim Connors's Avatar
    Tim Connors Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    I do not know about other states but in Illinois you are required to retain all reports, notes and pictures used in the inspection process for 5 years. My understanding if you do not have these items you are subject to fine, if audited.


  6. #6
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Connors View Post
    I do not know about other states but in Illinois you are required to retain all reports, notes and pictures used in the inspection process for 5 years. My understanding if you do not have these items you are subject to fine, if audited.
    In Texas it is a bit more ambiguous. Written reports are required to be retained for 5 years. And, even that is not written in stone anywhere that I can lay hands on it. I currently, unless needed for clandestine recording, utilize only a flash memory recorder the information on which is not download-able and therefore not practicably retain-able, as it is erased after each inspection in order to use it on the next one.

    Besides that, how can someone prove that I made field notes, took pictures, made sound recordings, and if I did, how many did I make and what was the content thereof? I did whatever I say I did.

    Aaron


  7. #7
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    I've never owned a voice recording device for HI use. For years I just noted every thing down on a cheat sheet that had the TREC report layout.

    Then when I bought a digital camera I now rely only on it. I've developed my own hand signals over the years that I will hold up in front of something I'm taking a picture of. At 52, I still have a great memory and can come back to the office and type up a report and not have to look at even my pictures much to do so. Towards the end of the report, I will scan through the pics to see if something is there I might have missed. Rarely so.

    As they say, a picture says a thousand words.

    rick


  8. #8
    Ron Dawes's Avatar
    Ron Dawes Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    My digital camera (a 2 year old Nikon 4800) allows voice annotations for each picture. I just shoot something of interest and record a comment about the location, what the problem is, etc. The .wav files are numbered the same as the picture .jpg. When reviewing the photos with the client, I can play it back thru the camera if need be and I have the voice files as reference when writing the report. By having the recorder in the camera, it's one less gizmo to keep up with during the inspeciton. I'll never get another camera without that feature.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    When I first started inspecting I used one for crawlspaces and attics. Got tired of hearing my grunting as I was crawling thru those tight SoCa homes. Found instead to rely on my memory and maybe notes made on a little tablet kept in my pocket.

    Thread drift......
    Talking with a client the other day about the evolution of reports (mine at least) and how I took photos. Polaroid at first, had to take 2 for eveything, and they cost about a buck each.

    Then 35mm and try to find a 1hour photo. High prices for the 1 hour, but could get double prints. Also used to use seattle Photo and could get both slides and prints from the same film. I built up a huge library of slides for presentations (also a lost technology).

    Then digital photo and used the Sony mavica that shot on 3.5" disks. Could print from computer after I gpot back to the office.

    Then digital camera with memory card and a photo printer. I could now print photos to attach to my 4 part paper reports and hand write anotations to each photo. Big hit with clients and realtors.

    Then switched to computer system and I could input photos directly to report and add notes as I wanted.

    Sorry for the drift...now, back to your regular scheduled programing...

    Anyway, I don't use the voice recorders. I use small spiral notepads that fit in my shirt pocket and an excellent memory, augmented by photos I take. But mostly memory.
    JF


  10. #10
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    No client ever has or ever will accompany me on some reality-TV-walking-tutorial-poor-GD-excuse-for-a-real-home-inspection.

    Being a mere mortal, I have discovered that from time to time clients will point out something significant I would have missed otherwise.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    On larger project I use a Olympus VH-4100PC digital recorder. I then download the voice file to my computer and use as needed. I simply hang it around my neck on a lanyard. I seldom use the VOX feature, I like to push the button to record. I like the Olympus because it has just about an unlimited number of files. I use a file for each section of the house or building.

    I keep the recordings short and to the point.

    I have found that on smaller or normal size homes, the recorder tends to just take more time and is more of a hassle as I can recall most everything I need to with the number of digital photos I take.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    I must say, I am impressed:

    "AHI requires inspectors to have performed 1000 inspections within a 36-month period prior to working without direct supervision."


    that's around 330 inspections per year, or more than one a day, every day, if you are working 50 6-day weeks a year.

    It must take a really formidable marketing machine to reliably provide that volume of work for multiple inspectors in a highly competitive market.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  13. #13
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Michael:

    This has been a slow year for me. I have done 348 so far and have 4 more booked. I have done as many as 500.

    Aaron


  14. #14
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    As I said, very impressive.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Connors View Post
    I do not know about other states but in Illinois you are required to retain all reports, notes and pictures used in the inspection process for 5 years. My understanding if you do not have these items you are subject to fine, if audited.
    That might be true, but who knows what you have? Electronic records can become corrupted very easy!

    As a former home inspector regulator I can tell your firsthand that you need to screw-up and have a compliant filed against you to be audited, in every situation I have seen.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    "AHI requires inspectors to have performed 1000 inspections within a 36-month period prior to working without direct supervision."
    Michael,

    Where did you get "AHI" and what is it?

    Years ago I would do that many inspections in a year, but then I started working toward fewer inspections per year at higher fee per inspection, eventually ending at about 50-75 inspections per year the last couple of years, ... and ... making more money than I had ever made previously at higher volume.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    That's Aaron's company:

    Dallas Home Inspections Dallas Texas Home Inspections Dallas TX Home Inspections

    As I said, to me anyway 400+ inspections a year is very impressive from both the marketing and technical standpoint - even if my marketing was good enough to provide it I would not be able to sustain that volume, it would burn me out. Scheduling would also be a problem, some of these big older homes around here I'm in there for 4+ hours, and I never know going in how long it will take. I know other people do them faster, but the more I know the longer it takes, and that's NOT because I'm looking at more and more minor stuff. OTOH, if you are doing a lot of condos, or newer tract housing, I could see safely scheduling two a day regularly.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    We schedule inspections at 9 and 1:30 M-F for the most part. Obviously, bigger homes take more time, and some jobs take all day. There are always a few Saturdays each year that someone talks me into working.

    Did one Sunday in 2007, but usually will get talked into 2 or 3/year. Has to be after church, with full approval by "the boss", and had better have a really good reason, or better sob story to even consider it. AND they pay a premium.

    I average over 400/year without working myself to death.

    I tried taking off Fridays, and had some luck at it, but still have to work some. This year I've had more Fridays off than I really wanted.
    JF


  19. #19
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    As I said, very impressive.
    Michael:

    What should r-e-a-l-l-y impress you is not that some of us work 12-hour days week in and week out, but rather that some of us, like East Coast Jerry, only do about 50-75 inspection per year and can still afford to bring home the bacon.

    In my market, about $0.15 per s.f. is the max one can charge for an inspection and still be competitive. at roughly 350 per year I am making 140K gross. Assuming that ECJ makes roughly the same amount of money or more then these are the things to be impressed with:

    (1) He's charging between $1800 and $2800 per inspection?

    (2) So then, the average square footage of the homes he is inspecting is between 12,000 and 18,600 s.f.?

    I don't know much about any other market than my own, but if we are to believe ECJ, perhaps we should all be following the other nuts that roll downhill to Flahdah.

    Aaron


  20. #20
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: home inspection with voice activated recorder with headset.

    Michael:

    Sorry, forgot one thing in my rush out the door to number 1:

    In Texas the option period for the real estate transaction runs between 5-10 days. We cannot spend a week in sellers' houses like ECJ claims to. If you were to even suggest such a thing you would be carted off to the butterfly farm post haste.

    And, ECJ must be one tough conch to stay in attics in Flahdah weather for 4 or 5 hours.

    What a guy that Oracle is,

    Aaron


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