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  1. #1
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    Default Narrative reports

    How many of you guys and gals use full or partial narrative reporting for standard home inspections? I've don't like check lists. I don't really like any of the software I bought or tried. It's taking too long to generate a report. I very seldom find the phrasing in computer generators to be sufficient. When you start adding your own comments, suddenly you have really long pick lists from which to choose. If a lot of the entries start the same, it can take a while to locate the most proper phrasing and either use it as is or modify it for a specific report. And instead of click-click-click - done!, the process is click, edit, click, ADD, click, add/edit,... until way-too-much-time-later, it's kind of done, maybe, if the print preview looks OK (Yes, I'm picky over what it looks like).

    I think I can set up a MS Word template and generate a report faster. Including pictures and markups on them. I realize that some consider narratives a liability risk. I would appreciate any comments or insight.

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

  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    We have to use narrative reports in Texas. I practically never us the drop down list except for the very basics. I deleted all the others long ago. By the time I found them and edited them to suit the needs of the home I was inspecting I could have typed it out.

    I dislike a lot of the software I down loaded samples of because there are to many different screens and drop downs and all had to be edited anyway. Even if I add my own it never quite suited the next home even with almost identical concerns. I still edited them.

    My suggestion would be to get a 2 to 300 dollar basic software that you can add pictures to. Keep the basic drop down notes, delete the rest and type out the report.

    I can due most reports in under an hour. Really messed up houses an hour and a half. I do my inspection and report at the same time and when I am done, I am done with it all. Hit the print button for a copy to the buyer when they show up in the end. Print the report to a PDF first so when I print it I am also ready to email the report off to the Agent later in the day. Right click on the report, email to, hit send I am done in about a minute.

    so 3 to 4 hours for the inspection and report and a minute later to email the copy to the Realtor, Money in the pocket, off to the next one.

    Of course I don't live in the land of basements and 80 year old homes either so my reports in general are not going to be as lengthy as yours but again I don't get as much for an inspection as you folks up North.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Thanks Ted. I have Palm-Tech, until they provide a decent editor I've stopped using it. And, it has a bug - if you add pictures and do a "print preview", it adds about half the pictures to the main library. After a while te library gets so big (10 MB) that the whole program crawls like molasses. They can strip out the picture files if you send them the library. But they don't provide/sell/or share the fix-it tool and they aren't open at night or weekends. The program is very modifiable with the "Designer" but, everything is changed one line at a time and the line editor, in MY OPINION, lacks a lot (being nice). I also have InspectExpress - generates a MS Word doc, which I like. It is pretty versatile and modifiable but it has a pretty steep learning curve.

    I do like a number of people have commented here. I look, take pictures to record what I looked at as well as record problems, maybe a write down a note or two if needed. I'm not coordinated enough to walk, climb, look, talk, and do the report as I go.

    A lot of inspectors in this general area use check-lists only and can do 3-4 inspections a day. I didn't say good inspections, just inspections. I'm pressed to do two and get the reports out within 24 hours.

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

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Stuart, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking and find it very good for adding the detail you are talking about. It trained very quickly for me and works well. I use Homegauge , drop downs are good as you can edit any and everything, but still prefer Dragon as every problem has it's own differences. It seems the longer you do home inspections, the longer your reports take. Is it knowledge or fear, don't know
    Wayne


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    Stuart, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking and find it very good for adding the detail you are talking about. It trained very quickly for me and works well. I use Homegauge , drop downs are good as you can edit any and everything, but still prefer Dragon as every problem has it's own differences. It seems the longer you do home inspections, the longer your reports take. Is it knowledge or fear, don't know
    Wayne
    Has to be both. Knowledge - you see things others might not and topical knowledge makes/lets you see the variations required to describe, accurately, the observations, ramifications, and recommendations.

    Fear - all the sue-happy horror stories.

    I think I feel most uneasy when I find out the client is an lawyer. It's too easy for them to file a suit whether it has any bearing or not.

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

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I too find that the pre programmed comments rarely fit exactly what is needed for your purpose. So often times you end up having edit each one to suit your needs because each house a bit different.

    I like homegauge software the best and find they have a ton of default comments that can be edited to suit your needs or you can add as many new ones that you like but in the end, I feel its just easier to type your own comments as you do the report. I have found its much faster that way but Im new to this biz so a I get better with the software, maybe I will be able to point and click for alot of it. Takes me 2 or more hours to write the report after the inspection so I definitely have to get faster at that.


  7. #7
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Has to be both. Knowledge - you see things others might not and topical knowledge makes/lets you see the variations required to describe, accurately, the observations, ramifications, and recommendations.

    Fear - all the sue-happy horror stories.

    I think I feel most uneasy when I find out the client is an lawyer. It's too easy for them to file a suit whether it has any bearing or not.
    Stuart

    Do yourself a favor and down load one of the basic soft wares with the ability to incorporate pics into it. It sounds like you are doing the report 2 to three time. Taking notes, taking pictures and recording.

    When I say doing the report at the same time I mean mostly after a good portion of the inspection is done. I put a lot into the computer then head into the attic and pic up anythings unsure of and take an extra picture or 2. Put the rest in to the computer and then print it to PDF, print the client a copy and pack up. When I get home I take a minute and email the Realtor a copy.

    I tried all the note taking, recording and such but it slows you down and like I say it is like doing the report a few times.

    I have tried many trials of inspection software and clicking back and forth to add this and go to that page to select that and etc etc Is way to much of a headache. I went back to the basic software and no longer deal with all that and has cut my reporting in half and enables me to do the inspection on site, with an adamant request to the clients that they do not show up till the end.

    A few folks I know put all the toys and recorder and palm puters and to involved software away and tried it like I do and they have cut their inspection time by a third and do the report on site and actually get a night to themselves. Full narrative and 2 inspections and in by 5 or so and the night is yours again. Well, slabs, newer homes.

    Throw away the ball and chains. Live life again


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I think that ANY software you use, be it specialized inspection software or something you make up from MS Word or Excel or something else, wil require considerable tweaking tomake it your own.

    There is NOTHING that will suit everyone just out of the box. Even if you design your own and get it exactly like you want it, you will still be changing it withing a year, even if it's just adding a thing or two.

    Software, or any inspection reporting system is only as good as you are in conveying your findings to your client in a manner they understand what you are talking about, while protecting you from liability as best you can.

    Face it, there is not free ride or easy street. Any one system will require a lot of work to get it to fit your style and needs.

    I keep a little note pad in my shirt pocket, and jot down notes several times a week about things I want to add or change in my library. Each year (or more often) I do a big change and use that library until I get enough things to change.

    Once in a while something comes up that I change my library right then, kinda of like when I took the phrase "by the close of escrow" out of my reports.

    If you have any friends that use different software, sit down with them and try theirs out for a test drive. They may even share their library with you. I started out with the library that my good friend in Phoenix had spent months working on - I was very lucky.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    ...I have Palm-Tech, until they provide a decent editor I've stopped using it. And, it has a bug - if you add pictures and do a "print preview", it adds about half the pictures to the main library. After a while te library gets so big (10 MB) that the whole program crawls like molasses....
    I use Palm-Tech, and while I'm not crazy about it, I sure don't have the problem described above. I'm not even sure what you mean. I put in tons of pictures, and use "print preview" of course, but have never noticed a slow-down of any kind. Are you using the latest version?
    Oh, it just occurred to me - I don't use the hand-held. Only the desktop. Maybe that's the difference?


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I have looked at several other computer based inspection reports and I am giving serious consideration to going with Horizon.

    http://about.discoverhorizon.com/abo...ng_horizon.htm


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I have looked at several other computer based inspection reports and I am giving serious consideration to going with Horizon.

    http://about.discoverhorizon.com/abo...ng_horizon.htm
    I constantly look at inspection software. Don't really know why but I find it interesting and always open to new or different ways of doing things.

    I just don't like the idea that as long as I own the software I have to pay some one every single month.

    I have never seen the need to upload my report to an Internet site when I can send it directly to my client if needed. Usually my client gets it on site and I email the realtor later in the day. It seems to me that you are paying someone 80.00 a month for what. Sending your report to them so you don't have to send it to your client. All that information (absolute minimal) could have been on 6, 8 maybe 10 pages instead of a 36 page report. My report is the summary. They can read the whole report or just scan thru the highlighted concerns. But They have to go thru the report. They can never say that they just read the summary.

    To me a one time I bought it I own it transaction when buying anything is always a better policy. You use this software for 5 years and 80.00 a month equals is pushing 5000.00 over that time.

    You can buy a lot of inspection software straight out for 200 to a 1000 dollars. Why would anyone want to pay anybody 5000 for report software???????

    Just my opinion.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Ted

    It costs me about $13 per report currently. I figure that using Horizon it will cost $7.90 per 100 reports. The more reports I do the less the cost for Horizon overall. The cost would be a tax right off, and it tracks, stores, invoices, et cetera. When you look at the cost that way it seems inexpensive to me.

    Since 1991 I have been using Carson Dunlop report using the matrix report only compiled in my own three ring binder with a 140 pages of text and diagrams. Occasionally I provide a narrative report compiled back at office which I charge more for using Inspection Report software.

    Cheers,


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Ted

    It costs me about $13 per report currently. I figure that using Horizon it will cost $7.90 per 100 reports. The more reports I do the less the cost for Horizon overall. The cost would be a tax right off, and it tracks, stores, invoices, et cetera. When you look at the cost that way it seems inexpensive to me.

    Since 1991 I have been using Carson Dunlop report using the matrix report only compiled in my own three ring binder with a 140 pages of text and diagrams. Occasionally I provide a narrative report compiled back at office which I charge more for using Inspection Report software.

    Cheers,
    So, as I understand it you are using a check list now. I have always since, well, forever a narrative report and only a narrative report.

    I have never used a binder. I never give a book to my clients. I have never wanted them to have to actually read a report that they had to scan thru 36 pages to do so. I understand the more inspections the lower the cost per inspection but the fact is no matter how you look at it it comes to close to 5,000.00 over 5 years. I also it is a tax right off but that does not mean you are getting it for free. You just are not paying taxes on that 5,000.00

    Just think of what you could do with that grand a year. Pay for a chunk of a short vacation. pay for a chunk of your insurance. By your wife a wonderful present. pay for 1000 in gas.

    As far as saving you reports. When you are done with an inspection put it on the disk with the rest of the reports for September. The disk will cost you pennies and all you have to do is open a drawer and pull out the disk for the month and year the inspection was done.

    Just my opinion. All must do what they feel best. I guess I am just a tight wad that does not like paying money out to anyone when it has no convenience to me but a profit to some one else.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I am cheap too, and I am not even a Scot!

    Either way you slice it nothing is free, it costs money to make money. My current system has served me well and has help with my image as a good thorough inspector. The Horizon program is great because it compiles all photos and resizes them and compress size to fit in the report and all line diagrams are automatically linked.

    If you looked at the Horizon site, there is a free 30 day trail which I plan on utilizing to see if I actually like it.

    later,


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I use Palm-Tech, and while I'm not crazy about it, I sure don't have the problem described above. I'm not even sure what you mean. I put in tons of pictures, and use "print preview" of course, but have never noticed a slow-down of any kind. Are you using the latest version?
    Oh, it just occurred to me - I don't use the hand-held. Only the desktop. Maybe that's the difference?
    Using desktop only, Version 5.16h (latest as of 4/1/08)
    It sticks in about 300KB worth of picture file data per report. How do I know this? Long story but I have the software tools that allow me to look at raw data and my last career included Computer Scientist so I have the background to recognize data patterns, especially when it includes the full path and file name of the picture file. The library grew in size to over 10MB slowing down over time until this summer everytime I changed categories, it would take 15-20-30 seconds to move. Have you ever looked at the size of your main library file? The standard file is default.ptlib. They cleaned the library file (well most of it), but it started all over again. I just started tracking what I was doing and at every step saved backup copies of the library and checked for an abnormal increase in file size. I asked them to clean it again but have heard nothing back. The utility to clean the file is built into Inspector Designer but it's hidden from the user (as per PT).

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

  16. #16
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    Cool Re: Narrative reports

    Ah, inspection reporting systems, the bane of the real estate inspection world. I began my HI life with a narratively written report format and as Jack said tweaked it at least once a week. I also agree with Jack that all reports are a work in progress. I’ve always been a great believer in should you find something better than what your using, steal it. Seriously, we have always “borrowed” from each other just as any profession, trade or manufacturer does. The road to litigation hell is littered with “check-list” type reports and as a report reviewer for my association I reject that type as unacceptable at best and merde at worst.

    As a long time code instructor whenever I got home inspectors in my classes, which was every semester (beginners usually) their first question was invariably “what do you charge for an inspection?” and the second was, “what type of inspection report should I use?” For some strange reason that was generally the extent of their questions in that they truly believed they where going to get rich and the report itself would be a self sustaining, check-the-box and I be done deal.

    The inspection report lives long after you have left the crime scene and if not accurate and thorough regarding any and all visually accessible defects you are chumming the waters for fin-backed folks with Esquire after their names. I could make this post a novel, but for the time being will let it goes as a quick reply to a very significant subject.


    PS: FWIW, of all the various reports I reviewed I thought 3-D with modifications was one of the best.


    Jerry McCarthy
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    three ring binder with a 140 pages of text and diagrams. Occasionally I provide a narrative report compiled back at office which I charge more for using Inspection Report software.
    140 pages!!! Are you providing an inspection report or a How To DIY Manual?

    How much of that 140 pages is specific to the house you inspected and how much is boilerplate gobblegook nonsense? Why diagrams? I use 4 sentences and a photo. The broken thing is located here. This is how it is broken. This is the consequence of it being broken. Hire this kind of guy to fix it. Insert pic with arrows or circle around broken thing.

    I usually take 100-150 photos and no written notes. The photos are my notes. I have a boilerplate report that is about 35 pages long of all the standard stuff the state requires I describe along with a bunch of statements I wrote for problems from previous inspections. I make a copy of my boilerplate to a new file, delete all the problems that do not exist, drop in the 20 or so photos of defects, and write a few more statements regarding the photos. Typical report is 15-20 pages in length. MSWord. Email to client with 24 hours.

    All the photos are so I have references if needed when back at the office writing the report. 8 shots of the house: front, back, both sides, all four corners. Shots of the plumbing under sinks, shots of the electrical panel open, closed, cover off, top, bottom, sides, pictures of all the model/serial numbers for HVAC, H2O heater, etc. Down load the photos off the camera, delete them off the memory card and ready to go to the next. 2 gig memory card I can take roughly 400 photos at 640x480. No resizing needed to add to the report. Photos are taken as close up as possible so whatever is in the picture is the problem. Almost never had a wide angle shot in the report unless it is from the street and is of the entire house.

    $149 once to Microsoft for Word. Monthly internet charge $40. Email report to customer and agent no direct identifiable cost.

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

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I do the same that Bruce does; take lots of pics, lots of establishing shots for reference just in case, very few handwritten notes etc.

    I wrote my own report writer in word. I spent enough time doing so probably to buy every report writer out there.

    I did design my report writer to read the leader of a finding and automatically load any broilerplate. There's no searching for the right piece of broilerplate, it's done automatically.

    But mind you, I don't have that much broiler plate.

    The secret really is to learn to type really, really fast.

    Chris, Oregon


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bernhardt View Post
    ...
    The secret really is to learn to type really, really fast.

    Chris, Oregon
    I agree. But I have this stupid key board that keeps putting in the wrong characters! I need a smart keyboard that can read my thoughts and fix what I'm thinking automatically.

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

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    The 140 pages of text is crossed referenced to the report. It is generic and not in depth. I do not take pictures to include them in the report. Another reason I do not include photos is that I always have my client present. If the client is not present I will do a narrative and may or may not include photos and always charge more if the client is not present.Of the 140 pages only 10 pages are relevant to the inspection.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    The 140 pages of text is crossed referenced to the report. It is generic and not in depth. I do not take pictures to include them in the report. Another reason I do not include photos is that I always have my client present. If the client is not present I will do a narrative and may or may not include photos and always charge more if the client is not present.Of the 140 pages only 10 pages are relevant to the inspection.

    You do not take pictures and include them in your report???????

    Of the home you are inspecting for your clients????????????????

    Isn't that like the golden rule of modern day inspecting is to present pictures of the defects at the time of the inspection of the home you are inspecting????

    Just curious. Never heard of such a thing.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I don't know why you would find it strange Ted, I know lots of inspectors who do not include photos. I also know many who do include photos and some who only take photos for personal use to serve as a record with the report.

    Last time I was privy to a home inspection report from Florida by an ASHI inspector his report did not have any photos either, and I others had no problem comprehending the report without the aid of pictures fwiw.

    Cheers,


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I don't know why you would find it strange Ted, I know lots of inspectors who do not include photos. I also know many who do include photos and some who only take photos for personal use to serve as a record with the report.

    Last time I was privy to a home inspection report from Florida by an ASHI inspector his report did not have any photos either, and I others had no problem comprehending the report without the aid of pictures fwiw.

    Cheers,
    Just thought it was the thing to do. I have taken pictures all my life in both inspecting, jobs done and estimates given for remodelling. Until now have not met a home inspector in years that does not take and include pics with their report.

    Outa touch with other areas of the country I guess. Oh Waite. You are from another country


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Ted

    I guess people have to go with what they are comfortable with and what works for them.
    You will be happy to know that I am presently looking for a PDA with the ability to take photos so that I may incorporate them into reports such as Horizon and Inspect It.

    Cheers,


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Please remember that including photos in one's inspection reports is a double edged sword. I've had more than one case where the inspector's reported defect exhibited in a photo in his written report showed an additional defect that was not addressed.

    I always took photos (in the old days we used actual film cameras) but kept them with my field notes for future defense. They came in handy more than once when some morons complained I should have noted some defect in a vacant home I had inspected and after I sent then a copy of my photos showing a packed garage or fully furnished room the resulting silence was deafening.


    Jerry McCarthy
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Ted,
    All of your inspection life? Well, I guess it matters when you started inspecting.

    Jerry is right about photos being a double edged sword. I have looked at hundreds of reports, both being a report verifier for ASHI, and as an expert witness.

    There have been many times I determined the inspector messed up by something that was in a photo. But, it was almost always in the background of a photo used for something else.

    If you are going to use photos, a good hint is to make sure the subject takes up most of the space in the frame, and ALWAYS be aware of what is in the background when you include the photos in your report.

    For years I used the ITA paper reports. I also included a hand written summary (called it "Report Overview"). I used Polaroids, but at a buck apiece, there were not many. I used words to describe what I found.

    I still am probably low as far as photo count compared to many here. I probably average 25 - 35 photos per house.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Ted,
    All of your inspection life? Well, I guess it matters when you started inspecting.

    Jerry is right about photos being a double edged sword. I have looked at hundreds of reports, both being a report verifier for ASHI, and as an expert witness.

    There have been many times I determined the inspector messed up by something that was in a photo. But, it was almost always in the background of a photo used for something else.

    If you are going to use photos, a good hint is to make sure the subject takes up most of the space in the frame, and ALWAYS be aware of what is in the background when you include the photos in your report.

    For years I used the ITA paper reports. I also included a hand written summary (called it "Report Overview"). I used Polaroids, but at a buck apiece, there were not many. I used words to describe what I found.

    I still am probably low as far as photo count compared to many here. I probably average 25 - 35 photos per house.
    I only take pictures of concerns in the homes so of course it varies. I am probably the ten to 30 picture guy. Well, I lied, I take pics of the electric panel HVAC system tags, water heater and general pics of the attic. I probably average some where between 20 to 25 pics. I keep the general pics for myself and include the concerns with the report.

    As far as how long I have been inspecting it has been about 10 to 11 years full time and another 20 years mostly part time. When times were slow in construction it was more full time. My earlier inspections were more property evals. Of course when ever estimating a rehab it was a full inspection of the entire home to give a proper proposal. Its funny, even back then I did not do work on a home or business if I actually did an inspection on it. Who new that it was to be the way in the future. Never really thought about it. I did refer people for repairs back then. Never got any money for it. Huh, who knew that it was to be the way in the future. Didn't I just say that?


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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    If you were including photos 20 years ago, you were way ahead of the rest of us, since you were either using Polaroids or 35mm.


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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    My first 35mm camera (film of course) was a used Nikon bought in 1952 when my first born arrived. I used this camera for years then retired it for a big Topcon with 180mm lens and extras followed by a SRL Nikon 2.8 lens + 200 telephoto. However, when I started inspecting I brought my old small Nikon out of retirement and used it for all my inspections.
    When I swung full time into being a Construction Consultant in 1998 I bought my first digital camera, a Nikon of course. Today I use a Nikon D80 for my EW work and back it up with guess what? Yep.. another Nikon Coolpix S210.


    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    My first camera for inspections was a Polaroid, B&W, then moved up to a color one, then moved up to a better one (I liked to be able to show the photos then and there), then I went to a 35 mm film cheap Nikon with 90 mm zoom - I think it was a Nikon, maybe not - (because the Polaroid film cost was getting high) and started taking fewer photos because no one saw them until the report anyway.

    My first digital was one of the Sony 3.5" floppy ones with 10x optical zoom - I had 2 or 3 of these. Then to a Sony CDR one (which used those small CD disks) with a 10x optical zoom. Then to a couple of Olympus cameras, the last one of which I still have and use, but it is getting old, maybe 5-6 years now, so I may need to replace it.

    I like a 10x optical zoom, and the Sony IR focus beam for dark areas (which I no longer had with the Olympus cameras, but I do still have 10x optical zoom).

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

  31. #31
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    Talking Re: Narrative reports

    I googled the word "Bloated" and got this: Bloated; an inspection report containing 140 pages of information that could have been easily stated in 4.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    The report is not bloated, perhaps the reference text might be bloated.

    Bloating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    But I like this:

    Gastric dumping syndrome or rapid gastric emptying


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    I googled the word "Bloated" and got this: Bloated; an inspection report containing 140 pages of information that could have been easily stated in 4.
    By that definition, then, *all* home inspection reports are "bloated" as *all* home inspection reports could simply state, in one sentence, taking up less than one page, "House has problems."

    Anything more and the report is "bloated".

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

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    To continue, and to create a new definition for the word, the "bloat" (new definition: the which makes something "bloated") is what provides information as to *what* "has" *problems*, breaking "house" down into smaller and smaller components.

    I.e., "House has problems." is now restated to reflect that the "roof of the house" has problems, and "the furnace of the house" has problems, and "the electrical of the house" has problems, etc.

    This bloat can now be further explained into smaller components, such as "The composition shingle roof" "of the house" has problems. That bloat can be broken down even further into "what problems".

    As show above, "bloat" can be anywhere. (including above)

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

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I was going to write a bloated reply, but after reading Jerry's bloated retort, I am stuck for a bloated reply.


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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I bought an inspection company last year from a gentlemen that was retiring. He had the company for 22 years. His reporting was narrative which I still do but he did not include or take pictures. I take pictures now and save them to a disk and give it to my customer or send them a file with pictures. I cannot fiqure out how to incorporate the pictures in the report. I have been looking at software for the reason of adding pictures but really do not want to get involved with someone for all of the reasons above.

    Maybe someone can help me with the picture insertion.

    Thanks,

    Jim Murphy


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    I bought an inspection company ...
    Maybe someone can help me with the picture insertion.

    Thanks,
    Jim Murphy
    Jim what are you using to write a report?

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

  38. #38
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    I bought an inspection company last year from a gentlemen that was retiring. He had the company for 22 years. His reporting was narrative which I still do but he did not include or take pictures. I take pictures now and save them to a disk and give it to my customer or send them a file with pictures. I cannot fiqure out how to incorporate the pictures in the report. I have been looking at software for the reason of adding pictures but really do not want to get involved with someone for all of the reasons above.

    Maybe someone can help me with the picture insertion.

    Thanks,

    Jim Murphy
    It all depends on what type of software you have. Just post the software type and those that use is can explain how.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Jim,

    If your report ends up in, or is written in, Word or WordPerfect, you can insert the photos directly into the report. If you are using an inspection program, you may or may not need to wait until the report has been completed to insert the photos (depends on the report), as long as you are working on an underlying word processing program (Word or WordPerfect).

    Some reporting software systems do not work on word processing programs, instead producing a .pdf file when printing, those should have a means with which you can insert the photos while making the report. If not, you could always get a pdf converter to converted the final pdf report to Word or WordPerfect, then insert the photos.

    I.e., even if your software is not compatible for allowing inserting photos, with the pdf converters available today, you can convert your report output into a word processing file, with which you can now do anything else with and to it.

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

  40. #40
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    I am using Microsoft Word.


    Jim Murphy


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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    I am using Microsoft Word.
    Then it is easy.

    Go to wherever you want a photo in your document, click there, then go to the top menu to "Insert", go down to "Picture", go over and down to "From file", select the picture file you want to use (if the "Insert Picture" does not default open to where you photos are, click the down arrow 'V' at the right side of "Look in:" and go to you photo files), click on the photo file you want, then click "Insert".

    The photo is now in your report.

    Now, click the photo (in your report) to select it, right click and go down to "Format Picture", now click the "Size" tab, now adjust the height or the width so the photo fits where you want it.

    When done, click off the photo into the report.

    There is your photo in your report. It may take a few attempts to get the right size, but then you will know what size to make all of your photos.

    Or, you can make a photo listing at the end of your report, making a caption under each photo.

    The best way to do that is to make a table, 2 columns, by 10 rows, insert a photo in the left side of the top row, and a photo into the right side of the top row, then type your caption in the left side of the second row for the photo above it, and in the right side of the second row for the photo above it.

    Repeat with each two rows, adding rows as necessary.

    Depending on the size you make the photos, you will get 4 or 6 photos per page, plus your comments (captions) under each photo).

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

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Thanks a lot Jerry. That is exactly what I was looking for. I will let you know how it works or if I have problems.

    Jim Murphy


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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    Thanks a lot Jerry. That is exactly what I was looking for. I will let you know how it works or if I have problems.

    Jim Murphy
    You might want to consider setting your digital camera to VGA resolution (640 x 480). The megapixel camera settings are for big enlargements. The VGA resolution is still pretty big for an inspection but has enough resolution to show a lot of detail. You can resize the picture down to what you want.

    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: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    You might want to consider setting your digital camera to VGA resolution (640 x 480).
    That size (640 x 480) is all that is needed for HI work, but, there is nothing wrong with leaving the size (resolution) higher either. The photo can be resized (physical size) into the report regardless what resolution size it is.

    However, ... the higher the resolution of the photos, the larger the memory size the report file will be.

    When I replaced my older Sony with my Olympus, I took the photos with the default setting of 2045 x 1536 (the camera did not allow be to set the default size to 640 x 480) so I just used that size. Each photo increased in size from 40-80 Kb to 600-750 Kb, so my WordPerfect file size went up and my pdf file size went up. Especially if you insert a lot of photos, as I did.

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

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by JIM MURPHY View Post
    Thanks a lot Jerry. That is exactly what I was looking for. I will let you know how it works or if I have problems.
    r.
    Jim Murphy
    What kind of camera do you have. If it is any of the newer cameras it will have a vga/email setting. This is where you should be taking your pictures for reports.

    If you are turning your reports into pdfs before you email them you will want to optimize your pdf before sending. Then no matter what size the pics are it will compact them before you send them out and the file will be much smaller


  46. #46
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    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Then no matter what size the pics are it will compact them before you send them out and the file will be much smaller

    "the file will be much smaller"

    "Smaller" being a relative term.

    My reports in WordPerfect were quite large, therefore, "smaller" in pdf meant 20-30 Mb.

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

  47. #47
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    Cool Re: Narrative reports

    Please understand that when I said an inspection report that ran 140 pages was bloated I was basically referring to the average 1,400 to 1,600 sq. ft. ranch style single family dwelling with attached garage. Yes, I’ve seen and reviewed “bloated” reports that had huge page margins along with a relatively small amount of reporting data on each page. Many inspection schools touted the idea that lots of verbiage with lots of photos encased in a book cover format represented credibility rather than what was actually found and reported. In other words; “quantity over quality.”

    The disclaimers ran longer than the actual reported conditions and the end of the report was filed with crowing about how wonderful and thorough the inspector was, in other words a small novel. I mean, does anyone really think the average client is going to read all that? Nah, and that’s basically why the agents began demanding a summary page because they didn’t want to read a novelette either.

    Hey, there’s certainly big reports when needed because there are lots of big properties and lots of stuff to be covered and I’ve done more than my share of lengthy reports, but again please understand I’m referring to the average middle class residential dwelling, not the McMansions with all sorts of goodies.

    While I’m at it I’ll also share that I don’t like “summaries” in an inspection report because that’s all most folks will ever read. I discovered many years ago that a surprisingly high percentage of clients didn’t read my report, but rather depended on their agents to explain what they said and where only concerned if the agent brought up something negative. In other words, “is everything all right?” “Yes dear, no worries so go ahead and sign the release.”


    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  48. #48

    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Sturart,

    I have never posted here but thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth. You might want to look at TWI's software. You can just click in pictures to the software’s finding statements, use your own comments or comments that you have saved, click in the location of the finding including "global locations" useful when doing duplexes etc., of the finding, add codes for the finding statement if needed and then just use their directive statements and your done. They use 13 directive statements from "appearance to system failure" plus "note and positive" statements that can be used referenced to letter codes or just put the directive statement in with the finding statement. You can also use as many pictures as you want with one finding statement or use stock photos or diagrams to show the correct application of a finding statement that is wrong. You can also edit the photos including adding arrows, circles, blowing up pictures, etc. without leaving the finding statement page which is very useful. The program also spell checks for you at about 10 different locations. When all that is done you have about a 30 to 50 page report depending on how many pictures you include and how many finding statements you use. This is then put into their folder called the "Uniform Inspection Manual" which is about 250 pages that further explains the finding statements and defines components and systems that you have checked off on the components page for each section of the house that the home has. You can reach them at The Home of TWI Affiliates, LLC. Products and Services - Welcome. The only thing that they ask is that you include this book ($25.00) with all inspections otherwise the software is yours once you initially pay for it. I normally take about 250 pictures of a house and use them as my notes. You can always just delete the unwanted photos.
    I too have looked at other free trial versions of software and look at other inspectors sample reports and nothing in my opinion comes close this software although some inspectors can make anything look good. One example: A leading home inspection software company has a finding statement that reads something like this and this is not a quote but just from what I remember. "One or more GFCI outlets inoperative or does not function as designed. Refer to licensed electrician for repair, replacement etc." What does this statement tell anybody? What does it tell the electrician? The electrician is going to have to check every GFCI in the home to find out what this statement is referring to all because the inspector or the software he or she is using didn't add a location statement. If I remember right, even a checklist report will do that.
    Good luck with whatever you choose.


  49. #49
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Please understand that when I said an inspection report that ran 140 pages was bloated I was basically referring to the average 1,400 to 1,600 sq. ft. ranch style single family dwelling with attached garage. Yes, I’ve seen and reviewed “bloated” reports that had huge page margins along with a relatively small amount of reporting data on each page. Many inspection schools touted the idea that lots of verbiage with lots of photos encased in a book cover format represented credibility rather than what was actually found and reported. In other words; “quantity over quality.”

    The disclaimers ran longer than the actual reported conditions and the end of the report was filed with crowing about how wonderful and thorough the inspector was, in other words a small novel. I mean, does anyone really think the average client is going to read all that? Nah, and that’s basically why the agents began demanding a summary page because they didn’t want to read a novelette either.

    Hey, there’s certainly big reports when needed because there are lots of big properties and lots of stuff to be covered and I’ve done more than my share of lengthy reports, but again please understand I’m referring to the average middle class residential dwelling, not the McMansions with all sorts of goodies.

    While I’m at it I’ll also share that I don’t like “summaries” in an inspection report because that’s all most folks will ever read. I discovered many years ago that a surprisingly high percentage of clients didn’t read my report, but rather depended on their agents to explain what they said and where only concerned if the agent brought up something negative. In other words, “is everything all right?” “Yes dear, no worries so go ahead and sign the release.”
    Hallelujah Jerry

    I have not put a summary page (s) in my reports for years. If you are going to put a summary in a report about just the concerns then you might as well just do an inspection with a Word list and end it there. On a rare occasion I get a Realtor calling me and asking to summarize the report so they can send it off to the listing agent. I explained to them that I already did. They will say that they do not see it. I will ask them if they read the report. They say yes and I tell them they read the summary.


  50. #50
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Narrative reports

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Ashby View Post
    Sturart,

    I have never posted here but thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth. You might want to look at TWI's software. You can just click in pictures to the software’s finding statements, use your own comments or comments that you have saved, click in the location of the finding including "global locations" useful when doing duplexes etc., of the finding, add codes for the finding statement if needed and then just use their directive statements and your done. They use 13 directive statements from "appearance to system failure" plus "note and positive" statements that can be used referenced to letter codes or just put the directive statement in with the finding statement. You can also use as many pictures as you want with one finding statement or use stock photos or diagrams to show the correct application of a finding statement that is wrong. You can also edit the photos including adding arrows, circles, blowing up pictures, etc. without leaving the finding statement page which is very useful. The program also spell checks for you at about 10 different locations. When all that is done you have about a 30 to 50 page report depending on how many pictures you include and how many finding statements you use. This is then put into their folder called the "Uniform Inspection Manual" which is about 250 pages that further explains the finding statements and defines components and systems that you have checked off on the components page for each section of the house that the home has. You can reach them at The Home of TWI Affiliates, LLC. Products and Services - Welcome. The only thing that they ask is that you include this book ($25.00) with all inspections otherwise the software is yours once you initially pay for it. I normally take about 250 pictures of a house and use them as my notes. You can always just delete the unwanted photos.
    I too have looked at other free trial versions of software and look at other inspectors sample reports and nothing in my opinion comes close this software although some inspectors can make anything look good. One example: A leading home inspection software company has a finding statement that reads something like this and this is not a quote but just from what I remember. "One or more GFCI outlets inoperative or does not function as designed. Refer to licensed electrician for repair, replacement etc." What does this statement tell anybody? What does it tell the electrician? The electrician is going to have to check every GFCI in the home to find out what this statement is referring to all because the inspector or the software he or she is using didn't add a location statement. If I remember right, even a checklist report will do that.
    Good luck with whatever you choose.
    30 to 50 pages and a book to boot.

    Short sweet and to the point with out all the hype and fluff and books. This is what people want. More than a dozen pages in the report and you lose them. Pictures of the concerns only. Location of the concern. Brief but understandable explanation of the concerns. That is what they are paying you for.

    Beating around the bush with bloated reports and attached into a binder with another 250 pages in it and pictures that mean nothing to them. I get my work because I explain exactly what the client is going to get at the end of the inspection.

    "Gees, my last inspector had about 40 pages, had me sign all kinds of paper work, put it in a book to reference every concern to. All I want is to know what is going on with the home I am about to buy. When can you do the inspection?"

    Just what I hear from every client. Others opinions may vary.


  51. #51
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    Smile Re: Narrative reports


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