How Mobile Devices are Taking Over Report Writing—Part One
It wasn’t so long ago that all home inspection reports were handwritten. Today, less than 10% are handwritten. Computers and home inspection software have become more powerful, more reliable, simpler, and less expensive. It turns out that computers and the internet are not a fad.
In the past, photographs and links to additional information were rarely found in home inspection reports. Today, they appear in most reports. Often, you can see a diagram, a photograph of the actual home, and a link to a description of the issue all conveniently on each page of the report.
Home Inspection Hasn’t Changed
The home inspection process has not changed much. Home inspection is a unique consulting profession. It’s extremely visual, in that we examine hundreds of different components during every home inspection. It’s incredibly diverse, with no two homes being exactly the same. While it’s not heavy physical labor, home inspection requires movement and flexibility, whether it’s getting into crawlspaces or climbing up ladders to get onto roofs or into attics.
Technology Has Changed
Inspectors have traditionally taken notes to record their findings as they move through the home. Computers have replaced clipboards and checklists. Home inspections have changed slightly as taking photos has become part of the inspection process. Early generation laptops were bulky, heavy, and had short battery lives. It was not easy for inspectors to carry them around the house. In addition to the tools that home inspectors carry, computers and cameras have been added to the load.
Technology Keeps Changing
Laptops have become lighter, more flexible, more powerful, and have longer battery lives. Tablets with touch screens are typically smaller and lighter than laptops, although the lines between the two are starting to blur. These changes have helped inspectors, but the reality is that carrying something while on an inspection makes it harder to operate and test things, use electrical testers, moisture meters and other tools.
Some inspectors leave a laptop in a central location, often the kitchen table, and go back to it from time to time. That is not particularly discrete, and it can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
The Magic of Smart Phones
Telephones have evolved as well, starting with early-generation clunky cell phones, all the way to the current generation of smart phones that border on being mini-computers. Smart phones can access the internet and can store and move massive amounts of data quickly and inexpensively. The concept of downloadable applications (Apps) has made software easy and inexpensive to add to smart phones. The quality of cameras on smart phones rivals the quality of many standalone cameras. Smart phones have become powerful mobile devices.
In part two of this post, we look at what the magic of smart phones means for home inspectors, how to use them during inspections, and how using report writing software can save time and make your life easier. See you at part two!