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Thread: report software

  1. #1
    sam sanders's Avatar
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: report software

    Yep... have for 10+ years. There's a pretty steep learning curve (as there is with any software) but my template works pretty flawlessly for me now.

    I create the report, convert it to a pdf and email of off. An average report is less than .5mb once converted so they travel and store nicely.


  3. #3
    sam sanders's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    Matt,
    I'm in the process of making my own template and learning about Word. I like Word as opposed to the pre-packaged programs in that the report is always right in front of you and, since I do a lot of old ass houses, I end up writing specialized narratives most of the time, anyway. So, hunting and selecting pre-written narratives and then modifying them doesn't save me time. Of course, Word was not designed with home inspections in mind and there are some things that I'm having trouble with. For example, when I import the pictures into the report, they come in huge and I have to shrink each one (to save some on ink and paper and to make the report more manageable in length). Is there any way to change settings so the pictures come into the report in a smaller size automatically, or do you just shrink each one as you bring them in?


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    Default Re: report software

    I always have and still use Word for my reports. I've developed many templates for various types of inspections. All follow the basic format but differ in categories/content depending on the type of inspection; HI, commercial, litigation, Code, etc.
    Works out really well. You can add, alter whenever you want. When I've gotten a "New" type of inspection and make a report specifically for it, I then save a copy as a template. Next time that type of inspection comes up, I'm not re-inventing the wheel.
    I tried Homegauge once, for one report. Never used it again. I know, I know a lot of guys use it, that's fine. Just not for me.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by sam sanders View Post
    Matt,
    I'm in the process of making my own template and learning about Word. I like Word as opposed to the pre-packaged programs in that the report is always right in front of you and, since I do a lot of old ass houses, I end up writing specialized narratives most of the time, anyway. So, hunting and selecting pre-written narratives and then modifying them doesn't save me time. Of course, Word was not designed with home inspections in mind and there are some things that I'm having trouble with. For example, when I import the pictures into the report, they come in huge and I have to shrink each one (to save some on ink and paper and to make the report more manageable in length). Is there any way to change settings so the pictures come into the report in a smaller size automatically, or do you just shrink each one as you bring them in?
    I use MS Office picture manager and resize the entire file of photos all at once using the pre-defined size "640x480" which fits nicely side by side on a page.

    Then copy and paste all the photos that I want for the section rather than using the "insert" function in MS Word.

    Since I have a wide format monitor, I can keep both the photos and the report open side by side to make copy and paste easier.

    I don't take written notes, just photos and write the report back at the office desktop.

    I can simply scan through the photos as I write my report and plug in the photos that I want as I go.

    I take lots of photos but only use maybe 5-10% in the report itself.

    Resizing all of the photos also reduces the storage size for back up purposes.

    One thing try to do is keep the original file on the SD camera card for a few days so I have redundancy and the camera card photos can be used to zoom in say for a roof shot that gets grainy if I use the re-sized photo from my hard drive.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  6. #6
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by sam sanders View Post
    Matt,
    I'm in the process of making my own template and learning about Word. I like Word as opposed to the pre-packaged programs in that the report is always right in front of you and, since I do a lot of old ass houses, I end up writing specialized narratives most of the time, anyway. So, hunting and selecting pre-written narratives and then modifying them doesn't save me time. Of course, Word was not designed with home inspections in mind and there are some things that I'm having trouble with. For example, when I import the pictures into the report, they come in huge and I have to shrink each one (to save some on ink and paper and to make the report more manageable in length). Is there any way to change settings so the pictures come into the report in a smaller size automatically, or do you just shrink each one as you bring them in?

    I use word and also find it easier and much better to type 95 percent of the issues as opposed to canned statements.

    I use MS office picture manager to select and change the size of all pictures all at once. Then I drag them over to the report.

    Word has drop down form fields and auto text that make reports quicker for those that enter lots of data and explanations.

    Reports with the typical 40 issues take about 1- 1.5 hours instead of the 3 hours it took before I developed the system. It has taken 6 years to get my report templates to this point but I'm glad I stuck with it as opposed to jumping around with the off the shelf packages looking for the perfect system.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    I use Whisper for the report software. You can create a particular template to look like anything you want with about zero learning curve. All check list, if that is what you want but I do not see why, some checks and the rest narrative or simply all narrative.

    Pictures that you pick to put in your report are already sized after clicking on them to fit a couple pictures side by side and it also incorporates Whisper image editor to add arrows or comment in the pictures.

    When you are done with the report just click save, click print, click create PDF and it can be saved anywhere you want it named what you want it to. GO to you email program, type what ever message to the client, insert the PDF, click send.

    You just cannot get any simpler than that. Add all tha canned comments you want or type in all out as I do most of the time. No matter what anyone says there is no perfect canned comment that goes along with every home. You always have to name a location and the particular situation for that room/home etc so the canned comments always have to be edited or added to or it looks liked a canned comment which is very unprofessional looking and sounding.

    Cost? It is very inexpensive even for the Higher end version and no recurring monthly fees and such and you can always down load updates.

    Windows has a big learning curve if you are not use to working with it. For 300 to 500 or so you already have a report format created for you that is as easy to change a template than it is to type this out.

    Home


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    Default Re: report software

    I'm still using Word 2003 and am learning something here. I wasn't aware there was a way to resize all the pics at once. I've found that Cannon cameras are the only ones that have a default size when they import that works. Teh 640/480 low res setting brings them into my template at a width of 3.56 - I've just always done it that way. If/when you bring them in larger, you just double click and resize to what you want (usually 3 or so to fit two side by side).

    You also have to choose the way the text "plays" with the picture.. some settings it doesn't play well... others are okay. I it's the "layout" tab once you double click the picture and I think it's "square" or something like that. I do know the text and pictures can jump around a bit and it still gives me problems from time to time. I do lot of ctrl+Z to backup and start over.

    My template works for me very well but it does have a couple quirks.... I've learned to deal with them and really have no complaints.

    As for canned comments and such I just have a separate report template with the common comments under each section (plumbing, electrical, etc.). I just copy/paste and make any necessary changes. There may be quicker ways (autotext, etc.) but I've just gotten comfortable with the way I do it. From reading the recent thread about report writing time I'm definitely on the short end so I'm fairly confident my setup is pretty efficient. I routinely get great comments and land new agents after they see my report because they like the format.

    I find most of the mainstream formats that I've seen are just to confusing and hard to understand. An MS Word report that you build yourself can be as basic or complex as you want it to be.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: report software

    Hello, My name is Bruce and I use MS Word to write my reports...

    I have a boilerplate document about 50 pages. I make a copy and delete all the canned statement defects the inspected house does not have. Then I drop in all my pics in the corresponding sections. Then I shuffle the canned statements around to be near the pics. Then I write any new statements. Then I build my state required summary section.

    Spent last week revamping boilerplate, again. Joined one the associations and had to add some new/revised boilerplate to meet their SOP.

    I shoot all my pics at low resolution so don't have to resize when dropping in. I put two pictures side by side. The statement above the pics is for the left pic and the statement below the pics is for the right pic. Add arrows, circles, boxes to highlight the defect in the pic. I can get 6 pics on page including defect statements.

    I am looking to shorten my reporting time and I am hoping that a purchased software package can reduce my overall reporting time. I downloaded a few free trials and will likely move to Homegauge soon with the expectation my inital reports will take longer but should shorten once I am better aquainted with the package.

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

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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I'm still using Word 2003 and am learning something here. I wasn't aware there was a way to resize all the pics at once. I've found that Cannon cameras are the only ones that have a default size when they import that works. Teh 640/480 low res setting brings them into my template at a width of 3.56 - I've just always done it that way. If/when you bring them in larger, you just double click and resize to what you want (usually 3 or so to fit two side by side).

    You also have to choose the way the text "plays" with the picture.. some settings it doesn't play well... others are okay. I it's the "layout" tab once you double click the picture and I think it's "square" or something like that. I do know the text and pictures can jump around a bit and it still gives me problems from time to time. I do lot of ctrl+Z to backup and start over.

    My template works for me very well but it does have a couple quirks.... I've learned to deal with them and really have no complaints.

    As for canned comments and such I just have a separate report template with the common comments under each section (plumbing, electrical, etc.). I just copy/paste and make any necessary changes. There may be quicker ways (autotext, etc.) but I've just gotten comfortable with the way I do it. From reading the recent thread about report writing time I'm definitely on the short end so I'm fairly confident my setup is pretty efficient. I routinely get great comments and land new agents after they see my report because they like the format.

    I find most of the mainstream formats that I've seen are just to confusing and hard to understand. An MS Word report that you build yourself can be as basic or complex as you want it to be.
    STAY WITH Office 2003 unless you are a masochist and want to learn how to use MSWord all over again. The UI for Word 2007 and 2010 was completely changed. You know how long it took you to know where various operations were in the menu system for Word? Well bud, that's all gone. To me, the new interface is totally illogical and a bear to flush all your old experience and start over. A lot of lost productivity. Must be a BOON for all the Instruction schools though. Just think how many corporate users are going to be sending their people to classes. I may just go back and save all documents in the 1997-2003 format and do a special installation of Word 2003

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    STAY WITH Office 2003 unless you are a masochist and want to learn how to use MSWord all over again. The UI for Word 2007 and 2010 was completely changed. You know how long it took you to know where various operations were in the menu system for Word? Well bud, that's all gone. To me, the new interface is totally illogical and a bear to flush all your old experience and start over. A lot of lost productivity. Must be a BOON for all the Instruction schools though. Just think how many corporate users are going to be sending their people to classes. I may just go back and save all documents in the 1997-2003 format and do a special installation of Word 2003
    I've poked around the trial version of it on a newer computer I have and I was afraid of that. It looked totally different and like a royal PITA.... you've now confirmed it. I'm hoping I can hold out for awhile....


  12. #12
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    Default Re: report software

    Thanks everyone, for the word on Word. I really appreciate it. I'm sure to have other issues, but feel I have a good support group here.

    Ted, I'll look into Whisper. You said it was much more user friendly, but I've never heard of it.


  13. #13
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by sam sanders View Post
    Thanks everyone, for the word on Word. I really appreciate it. I'm sure to have other issues, but feel I have a good support group here.

    Ted, I'll look into Whisper. You said it was much more user friendly, but I've never heard of it.
    The looks and ease of use is great and you can change the looks and content in minutes and saved as a master template


  14. #14
    Jeff Knight's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by sam sanders View Post
    Thanks everyone, for the word on Word. I really appreciate it. I'm sure to have other issues, but feel I have a good support group here.

    Ted, I'll look into Whisper. You said it was much more user friendly, but I've never heard of it.
    Whisper is well known in Texas because that is where there software started with their mandated TREC form.

    The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to use software to create the report or software that helps you do your inspection. There is a big difference. One is geared towards helping you at the office and sitting down and crunching away in creating a report...the other is used AS you are doing your inspection and then creates the report for you based on the collected data (it avoids a lot of the reentering of data back at the office.)


  15. #15
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Knight View Post
    Whisper is well known in Texas because that is where there software started with their mandated TREC form.

    The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to use software to create the report or software that helps you do your inspection. There is a big difference. One is geared towards helping you at the office and sitting down and crunching away in creating a report...the other is used AS you are doing your inspection and then creates the report for you based on the collected data (it avoids a lot of the reentering of data back at the office.)


    There is no re-entering data once you get home. You are doing the report at home or for that matter for those who wish they can do the report on site.

    The walking around and clicking away as I have said in another thread just does not work for me. You still have to down load it into your computer when you get home and add pictures and clean it up etc.

    Also as I said in the other thread, the only thing you are doing on the inspection is inspecting the home and equipment and taking pictures. Some, as I do on occasion< add some info into the report at the inspection. I always bring my laptop to at least dump the pictures from my camera and if the client is late getting there then I add some items to the report.

    Also Whisper ius far from being just for Texas. It is for anyone anywhere. There are templates made up already and they can be changed in minutes per page, if that. As far as adding pictures there is no resizing. You have the software set up (already set up this way) to add pictures so 2 pictures side by side will be instantaneously re-sized for you and fit next to each other. Some folks like really big pics so you can, in about 30 seconds, change what size you want them entered into your report.

    And

    In short you can download it, contact the owners, they will get on the computer with you and guide you around (on your computer over the internet) and about have all your questions answered in a very short time. I think I was on the computer with them maybe 30 minutes, if that, and have never had to call them back or ask anymore questions about anything.

    Now. Can anyone say that about any report software. I might be pretty smart but there are certainly a lot brighter bulbs out there.

    As that Chinese Chef used to say "If Yan (I think that was his name) can cook, so can you"

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 03-30-2011 at 04:04 PM.

  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Knight View Post
    Whisper is well known in Texas because that is where there software started with their mandated TREC form.

    The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to use software to create the report or software that helps you do your inspection. There is a big difference. One is geared towards helping you at the office and sitting down and crunching away in creating a report...the other is used AS you are doing your inspection and then creates the report for you based on the collected data (it avoids a lot of the reentering of data back at the office.)


    There is no re-entering data once you get home. You are doing the report at home or for that matter for those who wish they can do the report on site.

    The walking around and clicking away as I have said in another thread just does not work for me. You still have to down load it into your computer when you get home and add pictures and clean it up etc.

    Also as I said in the other thread, the only thing you are doing on the inspection is inspecting the home and equipment and taking pictures. Some, as I do on occassion< add some info into the report at the inspection. I always bring my laptop to at least dump the pictures from my camera and if the client is late getting there then I add some items to the report. As far as turning it into a PDF you just click print and there is a button you hit for "Create PDF" and done is about a few seconds. Then just email away.

    Learning curve? What learning curve?


  17. #17
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    Default Re: report software

    Do you want to be a home inspector or a computer programmer.

    I was going to play around with Word (which I'm VERY familiar with) for a template and decided I didn't want to spend time programming. For those of you who use Word, remember the Keyboard Shortcuts. They still work in the newer versions of Word and they're a lot faster than taking your hand off the keyboard to do mouse clicks.

    Now, I'm on HomeGauge. It does the programming for the changes in appearance etc that I want to make. I do the report writing and inspecting.

    I'm happier.

    Kinda like I take my car to the mechanic. Sure, I can change the brakes, but I don't do it often enough to be good and fast at it. I'd rather spend that time doing something I enjoy, like making money, and let the mechanic whose good at it and has all the tools and supplies right there take care of changing the brakes.

    It's kind of a time versus money thing. Word is cheaper (How much does Office cost nowdays). But takes a lot of programming time to make it do it like you want.

    Two notes:
    Try using pre-formatted Text Boxes to insert your pictures in. The picture will resize automatically to fit the text box. (Though, the picture file size is still huge and makes your document huge.) Write a short macro to insert that pre-formatted text box where you want it when you want it. Then either copy and paste or insert picture into the text box.

    Learn how to use "FastStone Photo Resizer" ( a free download) to do a batch resize, rename, add watermark (purple box at bottom left of photo below), etc to all photos for that inspection in just a few clicks of the mouse. That can drastically reduce the photo file size and thus your final document size.

    Choose how you want to spend your time. Choose wisely. I chose HomeGauge.



    Last edited by Erby Crofutt; 03-30-2011 at 05:46 PM.
    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  18. #18
    Russel Ray's Avatar
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    Default Re: report software

    Back when I started inspecting, inspectors here were still using carbon copy checklist reports so I created my own report in Word. Been using it ever since, and although I have both Word 2003 and Word 2007, Word 2007 doesn't like to play well with all my Word 2003 documents. I'm always busy so finding time to redo all my templates and other documents in Word 2007 (and now Word 2010) just isn't going to happen anytime soon. I have three computers here in the office, one for doing home inspection reports on (it has Office 2003), one for all my music and photos, and one for doing everything (it has Office 2007 on it).

    If you use Word, learn how to set up your own keyboard shortcuts; it makes life really easy. Also learn how to set up your own autocorrect and learn both the outline function and hidden text functions.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: report software

    Ten years ago I thought about using Word with its templates and macros but once I saw the database driven software such as 3D or HomeGuage I decided that was the direction to go. In my experience Word doesn't handle pictures very well. 3D would take any size picture and drop in the designated spot.

    I second Erby's comment on supporting the software. Face it - software on PC's is built to fail. If its not Windows BSOD on you, its your Virus Checker puking or your Firewall deciding it doesn't like your WiFi. Its nice to contact Tech support and tell them that the report is not printing out the way you like it and have them tell you how to fix it.

    Last week I had a 12 building Condo Complex to inspect. With 3D I spent two hours customizing my forms just for the complex and then was able to input all the data in about three hours including pictures. Huge time saver! The reports looked great.

    //Rick

    Rick Bunzel
    WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
    360-588-6956

  20. #20
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    Default Re: report software

    Quote Originally Posted by Erby Crofutt View Post
    Try using pre-formatted Text Boxes to insert your pictures in. The picture will resize automatically to fit the text box.
    I tried this years ago but just couldn't get the picture (and box) to play nice with the text. For some reason, once that text box is there it just doesn't allow text to be near it.... jumps all around. Like I said, this was years ago, and maybe I wasn't doing something right. I just moved on and have it figured out just inserting the pictures.

    One thing critical is finding a camera that imports pictures in the size needed (and not just resolution but also size.... as in 3.56" wide). Cannon is the only brand I've found that consistenly does it. If every picture needs to be resized I agree, MS Word is a total pain to write a report in. Every pictures takes numerous key/mouse strokes.


  21. #21
    kevin hergert's Avatar
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    Smile Re: report software

    I use Microsoft Word with a series of macros that make creating a custom report per home very easy. A click of a button to add a crawl-space, garage, rooms.....


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