We participate in a lot of online discussions amongst home inspectors over how home inspection reports should be written. We are pretty opinionated about this stuff, and so is everyone else at Arch Inspections. We’ve put together a report-writing style guide, which is something we use to help make sure our reports are consistent and easy to read.
In keeping with our core belief of educating everyone, here is our internal Home Inspection Report Writing Style Guide. Enjoy, and please share your thoughts, whether you agree or not. Thanks!
Arch Inspections Report Writing Style Guide
Always use complete sentences.
Recommend replacement of the garage service door.
We recommend replacement of the garage service door.
Avoid the use of “I recommend”; everything in the report is a recommendation, so beginning every other sentence with this phrase makes for a very repetitive-sounding report. The same advice can be given with fewer words and less repetition.
I recommend replacement of the garage service door.
Replace the garage service door.
Use past tense to describe conditions. This helps to create a more consistent report and implies that conditions may change.
The garage door is rotted.
The garage door was rotted.
Avoid the word “you”.
You do not always know who your audience is.
The identity of the audience is not always known.
Avoid the word “I”. The report isn’t about you.
I found mouse droppings on the floor throughout the basement.
There were mouse droppings on the floor throughout the basement.
Avoid the word “appeared”. This is weak language that gives the appearance of uncertainty.
The garage door appeared to be rotted.
The garage door was rotted.
Avoid the word “evaluate.” We’re inspectors. Use the word “inspect”.
The driveway could not be evaluated because of heavy snow cover.
The driveway could not be inspected because of heavy snow cover.
When describing the condition of components, make the component the subject of the sentence.
Rot was noted at the garage door. The subject of this sentence is “rot”.
The garage door was rotted. The subject of this sentence is the garage door.
Avoid the use of absolutes while giving recommendations.
Install a handrail to prevent accidental falls. A handrail will not prevent accidental falls. It can help to prevent accidental falls.
Install a handrail to help prevent accidental falls. – or – Install a handrail for safety.
Use less words when possible.
The range was not equipped with an anti-tip bracket.
The range lacked an anti-tip bracket.
Recommendations should be based on health, safety, and building performance. Not codes.
Minnesota requires CO alarms to be installed within 10’ of every sleeping room.
CO alarms should be installed within 10’ of every sleeping room for safety.
Side note: don’t mention smoke detectors or CO detectors when you surely mean smoke alarms or CO alarms. They’re not the same thing.
That concludes our style guide. It’s not super-long, and it’s not supposed to be.