February 12, 2015 in Report Writing

5 Common Report Writing Mistakes Most Home Inspectors Make: Part Two

This is Part Two of a two-part post. If you missed Part One, you can view that here.

In Part One, we looked at how being specific and concise can make your reports better right away. If you have trouble with this, we recommend using home inspection software. This will provide you with the tools you need to say only what you need to say, be specific, and save time.

Let’s continue looking at the top 5 mistakes.

  1. Getting out of scope.

Home inspectors have a tendency to be the knight in shining armour. If you see something you know a little bit about, you may feel compelled to share it with your clients. If it’s not part of the home inspection, keep it to yourself, unless it’s an immediate life-threatening situation. Your knowledge about how to improve cable television reception is not why you are in the home.

The further afield you go from your scope of work, the more liability you take on. The more time you spend on issues outside of scope, the more likely you are to miss the core issues within your scope.

  1. Going into too much depth with too much jargon.

Like many other home inspectors, you may have come to the profession with a significant amount of knowledge about a single home system. Electricians tend to go into more detail about the electrical system. Plumbers like to talk about plumbing. This creates an inconsistency in reports and a liability for inspectors. If you go into more depth in one area, clients may later ask why you did not go into similar depth on all areas.

Don’t write to impress, write to communicate. Where you have to use technical jargon make sure you explain it, preferably right there, rather than in a glossary at the end of the report. Nobody likes having to flip pages to understand the message.

  1. Mixing apples with oranges.

Many home inspection reports are poorly written. A single paragraph often combines a significant expense with a disclaimer limiting liability and a general maintenance recommendation that applies to every house. Clients are not capable of sorting through this and identifying what’s important and what’s not. A good report does not ask the client to make these judgments. Clear organization, good headings and subheadings, and a well-organized presentation provide much better value for clients and lower liability for inspectors.

Next time you sit down to write a report, refer to these five mistakes. Ask yourself: am I being specific and concise? Am I using the right language or am I confusing my client? You’ll be writing better reports in no time.