Home inspectors have to collect a lot of information as they go through a house. To meet the Maryland Standards of Practice, we are required to identify just about every component and system in a house, and include this information in the report for our client. Yet we don’t carry paper and pencil around with us to take notes; typically, we don’t do anything written while we are on site. That all happens when we get back to the office and write the report.
Clients have often asked, how can you keep track of everything if you’re not writing anything down?
The answer: Pictures. Lots of pictures.
When we first started doing inspections, we used a reporting system with carbonless forms that we filled out as we went along, and the client received the report in its binder at the end of the inspection. We carried a little portable photo printer and would print out a “beauty shot” for the binder cover, and maybe 6-8 pictures of the most important conditions found during the inspection. During a typical inspection, we would take between 20-30 pictures.
Now that our reports are digital, we aren’t writing the information down on forms. Instead, we use the camera to document things like the age of an appliance or what type of framing is in the attic. Since going to computerized reports, we now take an average of 300 photos during a single home inspection. Since they are all taken with a digital camera, we have all of them on our local network storage.
What kinds of pictures do we take?
Of course we take pictures of defects and other problems, but there’s a lot more we need to document. We start out with the front “Beauty Shot” and pictures of each elevation. This helps us note the position of things like decks, air conditioners, chimneys, and other elements.
Inside, we take a picture of the kitchen, laundry area, electrical panel, heating and cooling equipment, and each bathroom. We photograph each appliance to document what was there during the inspection,
How many pictures?!?
Rather than give away the fun, we’ve decided to make this a contest! There are two ways to win: Guess how many pictures we have taken since we opened our doors in 2003, and how much space those pictures take up on our storage drive. Drop your guesses in the comments here, or on the contest posts on our Facebook and Instagram pages, by the end of the day on Friday, September 18; winners will be announced on Saturday morning. We will pick a winner for each category; the guesses that come closest to the actual number without going over will be the winners! Prizes will be $50 gift cards to Lowes Hardware, which will be mailed to the winners. One entry per person; must be 18 years or older to win.