Whether or not to attach photos to a property inspection report is very much a personal preference: some property inspectors prefer to create a simple text report, while others like to let pictures do the talking. While it is possible to do a thorough, professional report with or without pictures, there are some elements that make including pictures with an inspection report worth considering.
- Photos provide context to the report. Especially if your client is a first-time homebuyer, or not a professional property manager, it’s safe to assume that they are not particularly familiar with the details of a property inspection report. While describing the state of a fixture or structural element may make perfect sense to you, to a client it can be hard to visualize what that description actually means. Including a photo of the relevant part of the property helps put your descriptions into context, and allow the client to connect what you have written with what they themselves are able to see.
- Photos can clarify confusing details. With so many elements to consider in a property inspection, it is frequently the case that some of the details are difficult to describe without causing confusion. For example, even a detailed description of a rusted faucet can leave it unclear how extensive the damage is and whether the faucet should be repaired or replaced. A photograph of the area being described can help a client to unravel confusing or extremely technical descriptions by providing a visual frame of reference, which can help prevent them from making poor repair decisions.
- Photos help make a report more readable. While it is important for a client to read a property inspection report thoroughly, the unfortunate fact is that inspection reports can be very long, dry, and hard to understand. Photographs help break up the report and provide visual anchors for the information, making it much more likely that the client will be able to read and comprehend the entire report. Often clients find it useful to read through the report while doing their own walk through of the property: including photos in the report makes it easy for the client to find the relevant areas of the property, and allows them a visual reference if they don’t have access to the property itself.
- Photos are a useful memory aid. In the interest of being as efficient as possible during the property inspection itself, it is often a good idea to take notes during the actual inspection and fill out the full report later, which saves the client’s time. Unfortunately, doing things this way opens up the possibility of forgetting important details between the inspection and the office, which can lead to an incomplete inspection report and an unhappy client. By taking photographs as you go, you can jog your memory of the property details once you get back to the office, making it much more likely that your report will be full and accurate. This technique is especially useful if you use a property inspection app that allows you to integrate photos directly into the report during the inspection, as every photo will be right where you need it to jog your memory and help you turn your notes into a full report.