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Checklist Charlie v. The Narrative Guy- Understanding Home Inspection Reports

Written By Tom

Published on 06/09/2016 9:00 AM


check boxCheck yes or no!

He: Do you like me? Yes or no.
She: Yes

He: Do you like me-like me? Yes or no
She: No

He: So you don’t not like me? Yes or no
She: Yes

He: But you just don’t like me-like me? Yes or no
She: No

Me: I’m confused.

Checkbox2Sometimes that’s what it feels like when I read a checklist-style inspection report. Or what I refer to as a Checklist Charlie report. This is a home inspection report where the information is passed on through a series of inspection categories regarding different components of a house, followed by a handful of check boxes off to the side, such as SATISFACTORY, MARGINAL, NOT INSPECTED, and so on. Some include hand written check marks on NCR paper (1980 called…they want their report back) and some have software-driven check marks (1990 called…). The results are the same. Maybe it’s my ADD, but I find these reports disturbingly difficult to understand. And I’m a working home inspector who has been in this field for close to 2 decades! Especially if I have to “SEE NOTE 1,a. BELOW” or move to another page to see where the * is sending me. Those of you who have experienced this type of report know exactly what I’m referring to. Those who haven't, you'll have to trust me, the amount of useful information on this style of report is pitiful. I can’t imagine your average home buyer, who sees these reports a couple times in their lives, finds them any clearer than I. As I’ve said many times before, people who engage home inspectors do so on such a rare basis that whatever they are handed at the end of the inspection becomes the standard. (If the inspector hands them a grocery list, that must be what a home inspection report looks like!) This is especially true for a first time buyer who is in the midst of a completely foreign experience and already stressed to the gills, juggling 50 other things at the same time!


Let’s take the same scenario from a narrative perspective.

He: Do you like me? Yes or no
She: Yes, Brad, of course I like you

heartHe: But do you like me-like me?
She: As a friend, I really like you, but only as a friend. Nothing more. I’m really into Steve.

He: Oh…
She: Do you have Steve’s number?

Me: OK, I get it! Crystal clear! Sorry Brad! Tough luck, pal!

See for yourself! Here is a copy of a CHECK LIST REPORT

Compare it here with a narrative report NARRATIVE REPORT

Which one would you rather rely on to make a decision on the largest single investment of your life? The choice is yours! Clarity or a grocery list!

That’s all for now! Stay safe!

Tom Sherman