You might be the most thorough and observant home inspector the world has ever known. Still, if you’re not communicating your home inspection report findings in an easily digestible way, you’re not giving your clients the best service. The great news is that with some easy adjustments, you can bump the quality of your reports, resulting in your clients getting even more value from their home inspections.
Five tips for home inspection report writing
We’ve compiled a list of 5 easy tips you can use to create better home inspection reports, convey your findings, and overall improve your inspection report writing. Follow along.
Tip #1: Include a short summary of your findings
Part of what makes a good home inspection report is thoroughness and details, but at the same time, it can be challenging for clients to wade through all the details and distill what’s important and what needs to be fixed right away. Putting together a short summary with the highlights of your report is a great way to point your clients toward your most important findings and prevent them from being overwhelmed by information.
It can be tough to balance what to put in your summary because you took the time to comb through their potential new home to give them the most detailed report. To keep things easy, you can include the top three or top five most important things you want to highlight, and be sure to emphasize that these aren’t the only things to pay attention to, but they’re the ones that stand out the most in your opinion.
Tip #2: Explain why issues found may be important to address
One of the biggest home inspector pitfalls is forgetting that their clients don’t have the same depth of knowledge about what their findings mean. It’s one thing for a client to read that the roof leaks — it seems straightforward, right? What they may not know is that left for too long, the leak can cause thousands of dollars of damage to their walls, siding, and insulation.
Likewise, for things like an improperly sealed toilet. They might look at the toilet in question and think the leak is insignificant because they can’t see any water on the floor. They’re relying on you to tell them that it’s important because the water could leak under their flooring and into the sub-floor, meaning that if it’s not fixed soon, they could be looking at a much larger bill.
It’s (seemingly) small things like providing context and insight that will boost your value in the eyes of your clients. It can take extra time, and you’ll probably have to repeat yourself to different clients repeatedly. Still, small things make the difference between a great experience and review from a client and a mediocre experience.
Tip #3: Include photos of any problem areas
A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. If you’re not already taking photos of the trouble areas in your client’s potential new homes, definitely get in the habit of including those in your report. A quick arrow on the image to highlight the issue is even better. Keep in mind that just because you think you’ve been clear doesn’t mean your clients have the experience to know exactly what you’re talking about. You don’t want your clients to disregard an issue because they don’t know what it is, and including pictures is a perfect way to give them more information.
Another helpful thing to have is pictures of the back of all appliances in the home and a reminder to the buyer to keep those photos in case they need the serial numbers in the future. Again — it’s the little things!
Tip #4: Include information about the types of professionals needed to address issues
When you know that your client will need the expertise of a carpenter, electrician, plumber, or another trade, whether or not you make a personal recommendation is up to you and your confidence in who you’re referring. It can be a double-edged sword as it can be seen that you, as the home inspector, could be exaggerating issues to create business for colleagues. Or, it can cause trouble with the homeowner if the work your referral does is sub-par or the homeowner feels it is.
That said, referring tradespeople you know are reliable and do great work is an excellent opportunity to pass along work to friends — and have them give it back. If you have tradespeople that you’re confident in, it could be a great option to set up a referral agreement with them to get a percentage of the jobs you send their way. Easy money for you, more business for them — it’s a win-win. It all comes down to your comfort level.
If you’re on the fence, you can make a list of trades your clients will need without making any personal recommendations. If the homeowner asks if you have anyone they should work with and you’re not comfortable giving them a name, a casual “I don’t have anyone in particular that I refer to.” is always a diplomatic option that gives you a professional way out.
Tip #5: Use home inspection report writing software
If you’re newer to the home inspection business, chances are you’re familiar with the various available software, like ISN’s platform for home inspectors. These tools were specifically created to be tailored to the workflow of home inspectors and their clients, making it an easy, streamlined process to record, store, and share information. If you’re just starting, it’s the perfect time to get your best practices in place right away — your future self will thank you, trust us!
If you’ve been in the biz for a while, you might not have made the foray into the world of home inspection-specific software, but don’t worry. These platforms are easy, intuitive, and will help you cut down on the amount of administrative work you need to do daily. From storing customer contact information to invoicing, they make the whole process quick and integrated. There is an initial time commitment to input your data and routine, but in the long run, it’s well worth it, given the amount of time you’ll save and the improved experience your clients will get.
Upping your home inspection report writing game will benefit you as well as your clients. With better service comes more referrals and reviews, helping you to grow your business while your clients leave feeling like they got great value for their money. With some minor changes to your daily routine, you can implement new processes that are easy to follow and will no doubt have a positive impact on your business as it grows and moves forward.