10 Habits to Improve the Productivity of Your Inspections
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.”
-Paul J. Meyer, Founder of Personal Development Industry
At Horizon, we understand that many inspectors struggle with finding ways to improve the productivity of their inspections – be it onsite with the amount of time spent documenting their findings or afterward when writing the report. These struggles typically come from inefficient processes, a lack of utilizing the best tools for the job or even just general inexperience – all which Horizon can help with.
If you are looking to maximize your productivity be sure to consider these 10 habits that have helped fellow Horizon inspectors achieve a new level of speed, efficiency and quality with their inspections.
Habit 1: Research the Property Online
By the time most individuals are getting a home inspection the property is already listed online for sale and with a bit of research you can:
- Examine photos and virtual tour to get a look at the home’s condition
- Identify any areas of interest or potential limitations, such as a wood-burning fireplace or if the roof is too steep
- Enter basic system information in report, like asphalt as the sloped roofing material or brick and vinyl siding for exterior wall construction
- Better estimate the time you’ll spend onsite so you can be more efficient scheduling multiple same day inspections
- Use www.realtor.com (USA) and realtor.ca (CANADA)
Going a step further:
- Check out agent photos. Review the website of the agent representing your client and the listing agent for a photo, this way you’ll recognize them both onsite. You know what they say about first impressions.
Habit 2: Arrive Early and Review the Work Order
Plan to arrive 15 minutes early for your inspections and with this time you should:
- Walk around the perimeter to get a sense of the home’s condition
- Open the report in Horizon Mobile, get your toolbelt ready and setup a ladder if walking the roof
- Review the work order in preparation for the client’s arrival
The work order contains information that every inspector should review before beginning an inspection:
- Who is attending and their names for proper introductions
- Any notes recorded when the inspection was booked
- What level of service was purchased
Habit 3: Develop a Process for Performing Your Inspections
The most efficient inspectors are the ones who follow a process onsite and repeat it for each inspection. If you are new to the industry or are struggling with how to perform an inspection consider developing a process that you follow and repeat on each inspection.
As a courtesy Carson Dunlop has provided an excerpt from its Communication and Professional Practice course that outlines an inspection process that can help you:
- Examine every system during an inspection
- Reduce time spent onsite
- Adhere to your Standards of Practice
- Improve your professionalism and efficiency
- Evaluate your current processes for potential areas of improvement
Habit 4: Take Advantage of Search on Horizon Mobile
When onsite the most efficient method of documenting an inspection is with Search on Horizon Mobile. You can search and enter the findings of your inspections as encountered in under two minutes apiece – including taking photos.
Take advantage of Search and you can:
- Save time by stopping the back-and-forth of navigating between systems
- Eliminate the need to memorize where every item is in the database
- Find any item, including Custom Items, in the database
- Take photos that are in right spot in the report, so no time wasted uploading and sorting through photos post inspection
Habit 5: Create and Apply Templates
Templates are a fantastic solution for entering multiple individual items to a report with a single click. Multiple templates can be applied to a single report to further improve the simplicity and speed of documenting an inspection. Templates can help reduce the number of topics remaining for Speed Write and are easily applied to a report onsite using Horizon Mobile.
Templates are typically used for:
- Common system arrangements
- Frequently encountered deficiencies
- Limitations and items excluded from an inspection
Habit 6: Complete Inspection Essentials with Speed Write
When it comes to entering a report’s inspection essentials (a.k.a. Required Items) nothing does it faster than Speed Write.
With Speed Write you can:
- Answer all a report’s Required Items in just minutes
- Complete onsite to help prevent you from overlooking important items
- Use as reminder or checklist of what needs inspected
- Maintain adherence to your Standards of Practice
- Customize to your own preferences
Habit 7: Customize Database with Custom Items
At times, your own wording is needed describe a situation and Custom Items help serve that purpose. With Custom Items, you can create anything – Descriptions, Limitations or Recommendations – giving you ultimate control over the content of your reports.
Custom Items are typically created for:
- Recurrent comments for ease-of-use and to maintain consistency across reports
- Custom deficiencies where you can take advantage of the 1700 illustrations to further explain an issue or recommendation
- Unique inspection methods and limitations
Habit 8: Carry a Copy of the Technical Reference Guide
At Carson Dunlop, all our inspectors are required to carry a copy of the Technical Reference Guide on their inspections and suggest you do too.
The Technical Reference Guide or “TRG” for short is a pocket-sized guide that can help you:
- Quickly identify the age and capacity of different home and commercial heating and cooling systems
- Determine outdoor air requirements for ventilation
- Conversion factors and formulas for thermal resistance, heating, water and electrical units
- Available for purchase at our online store
Habit 9: Use Insight for Second Opinions
With the collective experience of all veteran Horizon users, you can now rely on more than just your gut feeling to determine an issue.
When you need a second opinion use the Insight app on your phone or tablet and with it you can:
- Confirm difficult-to-determine deficiencies
- Review the recommendations other Horizon inspectors have made on an issue to help with your own diagnoses
- Explore and learn about thousands (12,000) of documented deficiencies with illustrations, photos and recommendations
- Free to Horizon users
- Register for an account
- Download from the app store
Habit 10: Reduce Photo Clutter
Photos are an excellent addition to any report. They can help explain an issue better than with just plain text and in my opinion, are superior to video for reporting purposes. With a simple point, focus and click they help capture any issue or item during an inspection.
To make the most out of each photo I suggest that you:
- Be selective with the photos you take, photos are only worth a thousand words when appropriately used
- In order of importance photos should be used to document deficiencies, then any limitations and lastly the description
- Take all photos in landscape to have the optimal appearance in the report and reduce the amount of excess white space
- Take photos of limitations but don’t include them in the report. These don’t help your client. They are stored in the Image Gallery if you need them later