Joined: 04/03/2018 11:51 AM EDT
Location: American Fork, UT
Hi Home Inspection Forum Readers!
One of the most common topics we're asked to address in our articles, presentations, and one-on-one conversations is report writing. How can home inspectors do it well? To answer this question, we went to several experience home inspectors and asked them for their tips. See what they recommend in the article, excerpted below.
Inspection Report Writing: 8 Best Practices
For inspection clients and home inspectors alike, inspection reports are worth their weight in gold. Many inspection clients?often home buyers?rely on the findings inspectors detail in their reports to make important purchasing decisions.
"[The inspection report is] basically a giant list of everything that is wrong with your (potential) home," explained Kristin Wong in her article "How to Read (and React to!) a Home Inspection Report" for the Architectural Digest. "And while not every issue is a big deal, some are significant enough to have you rethinking your offer, or at least renegotiating with the seller."
Likewise, the home inspectors themselves find value in the reports they generate. For many inspectors, well-written inspection reports symbolize a level of maturity and expertise in the industry. Furthermore, many state licensing boards, associations, and franchises review inspector-members' reports annually as a way of measuring the quality of the inspectors' work.
"There's almost nothing more important to your reputation and success as a professional home inspector than the quality of the report your client receives after you've finished inspecting a home," argues Inspection Certification Associates (ICA).
As important as inspection reports are to the industry, there's a wide array of opinions regarding exactly how to write a good report. Sometimes, it feels as though there are just as many ways to generate a report as there are home inspectors.
As a home inspection insurance provider, we're interested in what techniques home inspectors can employ to create quality reports. So, we interviewed several seasoned inspectors to learn what strategies they suggest other inspectors use to achieve report writing success. We've compiled their tips into eight inspection report writing best practices below.
1. Don't rush it.
Of the home inspectors we interviewed, all of them have completed reports onsite, but none of them still do. Our interviewees argue that finishing reports offsite makes for better final products.
"I wouldn't put my John Hancock on any report that was completed and generated onsite," said Mark S. Lodner of LBI Home & Building Inspection in Virginia. "It's just asking for trouble."
What exactly did our interviewees find concerning about onsite reports?
After reviewing some of their own onsite inspection reports, our inspectors realized that writing reports in one go made it more likely that they make mistakes?often, minimal misspellings, but sometimes, complete oversights. Thus, our home inspectors believe it's important to take the time to review reports with fresh eyes before sending them to clients. For many of them, taking a few hours or an evening to complete a report still allows them to deliver reports in a timely manner, thus respecting their clients' time and deadlines.
"[By writing reports offsite,] I don't have anybody looking over while I'm typing, rushing me, which can result in sloppy sentence structure, making mistakes, and leaving things out," said Miki Mertz of Complete Home Inspection in Kansas.
Randy Sipe of Family Home Inspection Services in Kansas and the Board for the National Home Inspector Examination (NHIE) agrees?not just from his own report writing experience, but from reviewing other inspectors' reports. Additionally, Sipe finds that he's better able to contextualize defects when he reviews all the inspection photos later on. It also helps him determine the seriousness of the issues when considered as one piece of a larger puzzle.
Mike Burroughs of QED Service in Louisiana, too, has discovered ways to improve his reports post-inspection. In fact, reviewing his reports offsite has helped Burroughs catch significant property defects he would have otherwise missed.
"There have been a number of times [when] I've come home, blew up photos, [and] started looking to make sure I put all the right markings on them, indicating what the problems were. And lo and behold, I've found another issue that I didn't notice while I was onsite," Burroughs said.
In addition to defending the inspection information's integrity, completing reports offsite can also help with inspectors' appearances. As a former member of the Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors, Burroughs has heard clients complain about home inspectors who spend their inspections buried in their phones and tablets. According to Burroughs, these clients wonder if their inspectors are paying more attention to their devices than the inspections themselves.
"As an inspector, you have to remember what the public sees you do and what their opinion of what you do is," Burroughs said.