I do not go through your potential home with a punchlist designed and marketed to the mass home inspection industry. It’s a little known fact that most home inspection reports are not written by your home inspector. Virtually everyone in this business uses off-the-shelf report writing software.
My friend Walter Jowers, a home inspector and newspaper columnist in Nashville, TN, suggested in a recent column that before you hire a home inspector, ask him directly: “Do you write the report yourself, or do you fill in the blanks using a software program?”
Walter goes on to explain: “You want a home inspector who understands what he sees and can create a clear written record of what he saw. Today many, if not most, home inspectors use generic point-and-click “comment libraries”” to fill in the blanks in their reports. If your home inspector uses off-the-shelf reporting software, words that end up in your report will have come from somebody who never saw the house you’re about to buy. If your inspector makes one wrong click, your report could suggest that you install snow dogs on your roof, even if you live in Key West.”
I designed my report system around the materials and conditions we find in our City. The report is written with complete sentences, not checkboxes. I explain what I see, I use lots of photos to illustrate the concerns, and most importantly, I describe what it means to you in language that is impossible to misunderstand.
The report is organized so the most critical concerns are presented first. The items are numbered, so when you are discussing the report with your attorney or other party, you can refer to the item and everyone will know what you are talking about. I use a lot of digital photographs so you can understand specifically what I’m talking about. I use arrows and circles to point out items in case you are not familiar with terminology.
The condominium and home owners association reports are organized into a narrative and a Photolog Summary. Association members can read through the Photo Summary and understand much better the items that need to be addressed, even if they do not understand building terminology and components.
Given the critically short time frames that are provided to make an informed decision about your house, it is imperative that the information be accurate, concise, and organized so you can review it efficiently. That’s how my home inspection reports are written.