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  1. #1
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    Default categorizing items in report

    I like many of you are inspecting items from different systems while in one area of the inspection. For instance, during the exterior inspection we are not only looking at exterior items like siding and trims, but we're also looking at electrical and plumbing items during the exterior inspection. The same holds true for other parts of the inspection.

    I'm wondering what different preferences you have for how you categorize information in the report. I'm asking because some software programs are prompting for various systems information within a specific category during the inspection.

    Do you let the software report on electrical, plumbing issues in the exterior section of the report? For instance, a bad hose bib or a clogged bulkhead drain are recognized in the exterior inspection. Those are actually plumbing items. For those of you who use software, do you edit to move all plumbing items to the plumbing section or do you let the software drop them in the exterior section since that's where the prompt was during the data collection?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Not sure what software you are using but there should be an ability on any of the main Generally accepted software report systems to create your own template or use boiler plates of different types including room by room or system by system.

    Long ago I settled on a Hybrid using Bathroom and kitchen as separate systems but plumbing is plumbing and belongs there otherwise in my opinion.

    You are writing for the client but you are also writing for Lawyers and Agents if you like it or not.

    You want items grouped by the trades that need to make corrections as much as possible if you wish a superior report.

    Putting plumbing items in the exterior section would be a little too unorthodox for most anyone.

    P.S just guessing but you must be doing room by room which can be confusing for most even if it feels easy to you on the recording end.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    I don't necessarily do room by room but I do look at various systems when in a single area sometimes.

    My reports are categorized by system. If I change to using software, I want it to stay that way.

    Creating a custom template seems like the best way I suppose.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    I don't necessarily do room by room but I do look at various systems when in a single area sometimes.

    My reports are categorized by system. If I change to using software, I want it to stay that way.

    Creating a custom template seems like the best way I suppose.
    Yes ,I think so.
    Often tempted to go straight system by system but the kitchen for instance has many items to look at and deserves to be separate as they all relate to each other.

    Room by room reports drive me crazy because of the repetition and redundancy of reporting walls are plaster 10 times in a row.

    Used to try my own systems but these software guys have it down to a science and my time is valuable.

    Can not leave without saying I use HIP however ...sorry but I support Dom for life .


  5. #5
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    I do my own with MS Word but long ago I was told by software guys that I respect that there is a difference between inspecting and reporting. And don't try to write the report with inspection software nor inspect with report writing software. Let the software do the transition work for you.
    In Tx we must follow the mandated template so all reports are by system and it makes sense (to me) that way.
    Now I never could break myself of my method of inspecting and documenting with my camera even though I tried many times to use various software solutions. I get "in the zone" of inspecting and forget to stop and record information on the inspection software. I know I am slow about report writing but it works for me.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  6. #6
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I do my own with MS Word but long ago I was told by software guys that I respect that there is a difference between inspecting and reporting. And don't try to write the report with inspection software nor inspect with report writing software. Let the software do the transition work for you.
    In Tx we must follow the mandated template so all reports are by system and it makes sense (to me) that way.
    Now I never could break myself of my method of inspecting and documenting with my camera even though I tried many times to use various software solutions. I get "in the zone" of inspecting and forget to stop and record information on the inspection software. I know I am slow about report writing but it works for me.
    Sounds vendor like here but HIP does have a Texas template and pretty sure others do as well.
    Trec is different for sure.
    They want nothing different.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    The point is you would drive yourself crazy trying to inspect by the report organization.
    Use the report (not inspection) software to place the the item in the appropriate location in the report.
    For me all plumbing goes in the plumbing section, easy. But gathering the plumbing information comes from all over the interior and exterior of the house. I inspect room by room but report by system. There is software available that will do this for you automatically.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  8. #8
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    300 inspectors probably have 300 different approaches to an inspection. You have to figure out what works for your style and disposition. What works for one inspector may be difficult for another one. After 15 years, I still tweak my style.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    I collect information room by room but report by system. Tried helping a multi-inspector firm that reported the data based on where it was observed.

    So the AC compressor is in the exterior section but the AC coil was reported in the attic, crawlspace, mechanical room or wherever it was located. Thermostat was reported in the heating section. Utility meters were reported in the exterior section but the shutoffs were reported where ever they were located. There were lots of additional quirky placements from my viewpoint.

    They entered data into the software onsite. So they expected you to inspect all the bathrooms and enter all the data and then inspect another system and enter the data, etc. Lots of running back and forth between the computer in the kitchen and areas of the house. They inspected based on their reporting system. Drove me crazy.

    My style is all plumbing in the plumbing section regardless of where it is located in the home. So hose bibs, kitchen sinks, and toilets are all in the same section. My report is laid out in the same order as the ASHI SOP and items are reported in the same location and order.

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

  10. #10
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Sounds vendor like here but HIP does have a Texas template and pretty sure others do as well.
    Trec is different for sure.
    They want nothing different.
    Actually I think it is the only ay to go and I have inspected in Three states.

    Electrical in the electric section . Plumbing in the plumbing section etc etc etc. Where else would it go. List all deficiencies under the section they all belong in.

    How could one get any rhyme or reason reporting any other way. An electrician following up with pricing repairs has to go all over the report to see what is going on with electrical.

    The HVAC folks have to check whats going on outside and then check in the attic section for the rest and the interior section for a bad thermostat????

    Just wondering just how everyone else reports where the findings make any sense.

    Just to add another note. I take no notes. Just the report form being set up by system brings everything right back to memory. Of course the camera is also my memory. I look, I find, I take a picture. Just the idea that the picture was taken cements that defect into memory. No picture and it does not tell the mind to remember. I don't have to look at my pictures to remember. I know the picture I took and do a quick scan of the pictures I took and it is there. You also now almost exactly in the pictures that particular picture will be.

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 01-26-2013 at 09:42 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    I'm looking at various software that I hope can efficiently collect data and photos on handheld device while inspecting.

    Then, I get back to the office and plug in to the laptop and rearrange things to report by category.

    So I'm just looking for a more efficient way of inspecting by area and report by category.

    I totally agree that its silly to have electrical or plumbing issues spread out all over the report.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Ditto what Bruce and Ted and others say - Inspect the whole room and everything in it. Then report by system. I don't report each bedroom. There's not much to say unless there is a leak or a hole in the wall. So I use 'Interior" for all, "The NE bedroom has a hole in the wall" goes into the Interior section. A faulty baseboard heater goes into the Heating section. A bad light switch goes into the Electrical. I just type in where they are located.
    Kitchen and Bathrooms I repeat myself, because I will report electrical faults in the kitchen, but refer to them again in the Electrical section. I want all Electrical repairs to be in that one section, or they could be overlooked. Ditto for Bathroom or Basement Plumbing. The defects often get mentioned in the location, but in the plumbing section as well. Then the majors are in the summary as well. I don't care if it gets a little boring.

    The common defects are easy enough to tap in. Details will then go into the system section - "Have a qualified and experienced plumber install a proper trap" goes into the Plumbing section.

    I also use Home Inspection Pro, but an associate of mine uses HomeGauge and it is also easy to customize. I customized one of the precustomized templates that suits my methods.

    You take used reports and turn them into templates. Empty the comment boxes, Delete the pics. Bingo, you've got a 50's house template.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    I'm looking at various software that I hope can efficiently collect data and photos on handheld device while inspecting.

    Then, I get back to the office and plug in to the laptop and rearrange things to report by category.

    So I'm just looking for a more efficient way of inspecting by area and report by category.

    I totally agree that its silly to have electrical or plumbing issues spread out all over the report.
    Posted this on a separate thread here yesterday but this is a new alternative .

    Android Camera review - YouTube

    Did my best but it at least gives you a good idea.Skip first part if you wish as I was video experimenting.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'm working with a particular software now to see if I want to use it or not. I have a 30 guaranty enabling money back if I wind up not liking it. Since I'm still in the trial mode I won't bother mentioning the brand.

    It does have a phone app that works in conjunction with the full PC program. I'm adjusting a template to my preferences and fiddling around buy mocking data gathering, transfer to PC and finalizing reports. I don't see this as saving much time at the inspection. I do see this cutting my report writing time in the office at least in half.

    Since we were discussing inspecting by area and reporting by category, the setup I'm working with easily allows it. From the phone app I can easily access different categories of the template to insert different categorical info when inspecting multiple items from a single location. The built in phone cam inserts pics in the template where they belong in the final report and voice to text feature of the smart phone makes adding notes easy. Back at the office, all thats needed is to finalize narrative comments.

    It's looking like it will work for me.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    That sounds pretty cool. I use an actual camera rather than my phone camera. I guess I am old fashioned. My wife, just confirmed that I AM old fashioned.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Posted this on a separate thread here yesterday but this is a new alternative .

    Android Camera review - YouTube

    Did my best but it at least gives you a good idea.Skip first part if you wish as I was video experimenting.
    Any issues with the lens hanging resulting in a "lens error" after inspecting the attic, crawl or other dusty area? This has been a big problem with cameras that I have used, Nikon, Canon and Fuji, that have the lens that extend and retract. The Nikon has been the worst about the lens hanging, the Fuji the most forgiving but all have had issues. I have finally gone to one of the "waterproof" cameras from Nikon where the lens does not extend out from the camera but is sealed. I have had to give up zoom range on the camera, only so much can be done with a lens that cannot extend from the camera.
    Sorry for the thread hi-jack, the camera looks great, I like the idea of combining the features of the phone with a camera with zoom and flash. I would have to cut back on the number of photos taken at an inspection though, or I would need to carry a couple of extra batteries.

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Alton Darty View Post
    Any issues with the lens hanging resulting in a "lens error" after inspecting the attic, crawl or other dusty area? This has been a big problem with cameras that I have used, Nikon, Canon and Fuji, that have the lens that extend and retract. The Nikon has been the worst about the lens hanging, the Fuji the most forgiving but all have had issues. I have finally gone to one of the "waterproof" cameras from Nikon where the lens does not extend out from the camera but is sealed. I have had to give up zoom range on the camera, only so much can be done with a lens that cannot extend from the camera.
    Sorry for the thread hi-jack, the camera looks great, I like the idea of combining the features of the phone with a camera with zoom and flash. I would have to cut back on the number of photos taken at an inspection though, or I would need to carry a couple of extra batteries.
    The camera if purchased through AT@T includes a free spare battery which is plenty.

    No retract issues as of yet.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    John - I have some categories that include a line on some part of another system in the report generation. For example: Heat pump Electical. If there is a problem there, I note the subject as "inspected" and a comment to see "XXXX" section for note on deficiency and call for repair. I report by system. I started off room-by-room but quickly ran into the problem of, "is this room a den, a study, office, library, What?" Then I realized that summaries were best by system.

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

  19. #19
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    John, one thing to keep in mind is that the picture of nothing wrong is the picture that might keep you out of trouble. If you are limited in the number of pictures you take you may be giving up some protection.

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    John, one thing to keep in mind is that the picture of nothing wrong is the picture that might keep you out of trouble. If you are limited in the number of pictures you take you may be giving up some protection.
    That's a good point and I'll be keeping my regular digital camera on my hip for lots of reference photos. Also, any of those can be dragged into the template when the report is being finished back at the office. My Panasonic Lumix has great optical zoom and macro so it will always be utilized when special shots are needed.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Heiler View Post
    John, one thing to keep in mind is that the picture of nothing wrong is the picture that might keep you out of trouble. If you are limited in the number of pictures you take you may be giving up some protection.
    That is also the photo which might come back to haunt you as there *may* actually be something wrong in that photo and you just missed seeing it ... others might not miss it ... careful of those photos.

    I took as many photos as I could ... and included *ALL* photos in my reports ... and then I went back through the photos and typed comments below each photo stating what was in the photo ...

    The report was identified as being not complete without the photos and the photos were identified as being not complete without the report - just in case an agent decided to send the report and not the photos with it.

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

  22. #22
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Off all the photos I take, about 1/3 make it to the report. I always keep all for my reference. I keep them backed up on at least two separate drives.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    As others have said - inspect by area, report by system. The place I sometimes run into trouble is with kitchen/bathroom vs. plumbing. I generally call anything up to the permanent pluming at the wall kitchen/bathroom. So, a leak at the drain stem to P-Trap under the bathroom sink goes in bathroom as I consider that part of the faucet assembly but it's really up for debate I suppose.

    I've sometimes included things like damaged heating ducts in a crawl space under the crawl space section if there's bunch of other stuff to fix in the crawl. My fear is they just give the crawl space page to the repair guy and he doesn't fix the ducts. In those cases I'll often put a "See Crawl Space Section" note in the HVAC section.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    I totally agree that its silly to have electrical or plumbing issues spread out all over the report.
    Gee John, I must be doing it wrong for 16 years now.
    I have an "Electrical' section that tells the major components of the electrical system; but in each section ie Kitchen, Bathrooms, Bedrooms etc, is where I report on loose receptacles, or reversed polarity or a noisy, un-balanced ceiling fans.
    Hose-bibs are in the exterior section (contrary to Bob's point of view), whirlpool type tubs are reported in the bathroom which they are located.

    Check out my example report to see how I've been doing it wrong...

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  25. #25
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Darren, your Summary pulls all the defects together. If there was no summary, I would have to read the whole report and make my own list.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  26. #26
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I would have to read the whole report and make my own list.
    Having your client read the WHOLE report is not such a bad thing, is it?

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  27. #27
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    Default Re: categorizing items in report

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Miller View Post
    Gee John, I must be doing it wrong for 16 years now.
    I have an "Electrical' section that tells the major components of the electrical system; but in each section ie Kitchen, Bathrooms, Bedrooms etc, is where I report on loose receptacles, or reversed polarity or a noisy, un-balanced ceiling fans.
    Hose-bibs are in the exterior section (contrary to Bob's point of view), whirlpool type tubs are reported in the bathroom which they are located.

    Check out my example report to see how I've been doing it wrong...
    Darren,

    It sounds like I may have offended you and therefore maybe I offended others as well. So if I did, I'm sorry.

    I'll rephrase - I prefer to have items in each specific category consolidated in the report. I prefer it as the report author and I'm pretty sure I'd prefer it as the recipient.

    So, my choice of words could have been better but nowhere did I say that you've been doing it wrong. Nonetheless, thanks for pointing out my questionable choice of words.


  28. #28
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    Smile Re: categorizing items in report

    John,

    I've 'known' you for years now. You are the guy who keeps asking questions, wanting to learn as much as you can. I give you all the credit in the world for your approach to this business.

    No, you didn't offend me. I just like to bust b-lls once in a while. And it wasn't yours I was busting.

    I've had my reporting system since I've been in business and I really, really like my lay-out. To each his own; as long as they are comfortable in the final product they produce.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

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