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Home inspection report summary: yes or no?

I'm blown away by the number of home inspectors who don't believe in a report summary. I've always provided a summary at the beginning of my inspection reports, and I probably always will. I'm not stuck in my ways; my methods may change someday, but for now, I'm a firm believer in a report summary. Maybe this blog post will change all of that.

What's a report summary?

If a home inspector includes a summary with their inspection report, what goes into the summary should be explained. For my company's home inspection reports, we include this text at the beginning of our summary: "This Summary Report includes the items that were, in my opinion, the most important items to bring to your attention. This is not by any means a substitute for the full report. Please read the entire report."

We hand-craft our summaries with every report. What goes into one summary report might not make it into another. I've explained the summary report to everyone on my team like this: you've just finished the home inspection for a close family member who wasn't at the inspection. You have 30-seconds to tell your family member what you found during the home inspection. What are you going to say? That's what goes into the report summary.

While life-safety devices like smoke alarms and GFCI devices may be important, they shouldn't make the summary. I think of the summary as the stuff that would be most likely to affect someone's decision to purchase a property. We don't define the summary that way because we have no way of knowing what is the most important to our client, but we certainly try to learn what's most important.

How long is a summary?

The length of a home inspection report summary will vary dramatically from company to company. For my company, I recently reviewed twenty random home inspection reports from my team and counted the number of summary items. The average was six items per report summary, with the shortest summary containing two items and the longest containing twenty (oof). Of course, I feel that this is the perfect way to write a summary, but I'm biased.

Many years ago, our report summaries contained all of the "action items" in our reports. If we made a recommendation to do something, that went into the summary. This made for some extremely long summary reports that were tough to digest. If I were buying a home and I were handed a summary like that, I would have a difficult time distinguishing the big stuff from the little stuff. That's what made us change our report summaries to be more of the hand-crafted type.

Many home inspectors include all of the action items into their report summaries. I'm not saying this is wrong... but I sure don't think that this method is nearly as helpful to a new home buyer.

Arguments against a report summary

I hear the same arguments against report summaries all the time. The most common argument against a summary is that if a summary is provided, that's all the client will read. To that, I say too bad. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Removing a report summary to force your client to read the entire report is like dunking the horse's head under water.

I believe that my clients appreciate report summaries, and I know that I would appreciate this if I were buying a home. If I'm paying a professional for their opinion, I want to know what they thought was the most important.

The other argument that I hear against report summaries is that it's only there for the real estate agent. Again, I believe that my clients appreciate report summaries, but even if this was true, so what? Would it be so wrong to provide this requested service? All of the best agents that I know read the entire report no matter what, but I believe most of them appreciate report summaries.

What say you?

While I firmly believe that my clients appreciate report summaries, my evidence is purely anecdotal. I've never conducted a survey, so here goes. I posted a survey on my website at the bottom of this same post, here: Home Inspection Report Summary?

The results of this survey might change how we do business. Please vote. You can see the results of the survey after you've voted. Thank you!

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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Flashlight review: Fenix TK72R

The Fenix TK72R is the most powerful flashlight I've ever tested, and it gives off way more light than anyone could ever need. Before I get into the specifics of this flashlight, however, I must share the manufacturer's warning with you, because it's the best.

I'm not going to lie, I was sold on this flashlight after reading the warning. Not only that, but the warning sheet that comes with the flashlight is even more specific and... awesomer?

TK72R warning sheet

Of course, I only had one question after reading the warning: will it really start paper on fire? That's the first thing I tried. No luck. I'm sure it would work under the right conditions, but I didn't try too hard. I simply held the flashlight against a piece of paper until the flashlight was too hot to hold.

TK72R infrared image

What's surprising about this flashlight is how fast it gets hot; at the full 9000-lumen brightness, you can feel the head getting hot quite quickly. Uncomfortably hot. It won't stay at full brightness for very long, however. The graph below shows how the brightness drops off fairly quickly, leveling off at 2500 lumens after only a few minutes.

Size and Shape

This flashlight is a tank.

TK72R in hand

I think the "TK" in the model number probably has something to do with "tactical", but in this case, I'll assume it means tank. This definitely isn't the type of flashlight that you slip into your pocket. It's too big and too heavy. The good news is that it comes with a nice heavy-duty carrying case, and it slips in and out of the case quite easily. The case also has a velcro strap to keep the flashlight from falling out. Good stuff.

Controls

I had to read over the control instructions a couple of times to get it. There are tons of settings, and you can read about them if you want to, but it's not necessary. I gave the flashlight to my 7-year-old daughter and told her to make it bright. She figured it out in about 3 seconds. The short version is that you can hold down the plus and minus buttons to increase or decrease the brightness in 1,000-lumen increments or quickly touch them for 100-lumen increments.

Power and display

The TK72R comes with a gigantic 7,000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

TK72R battery

The digital display shows the percentage of battery charge left, the brightness setting, and how much longer the flashlight will run at the current light setting. It's perfect. No more guessing how much battery time is left. In the image below, you can see that the flashlight is at 96% battery life, 100 lumens, and will run for 48 hours straight at this setting.

TK72R display

This flashlight has a built-in micro-USB charging port, as well as a full-sized USB port that can be used to charge other devices. Cool stuff. It's a power bank.

TK72R charging port

Light output

I've taken some photos of the front of my garage with various other flashlights, so I'm keeping with that theme. For comparison, here's the old Fenix TK35 that I was really excited about many years ago.

TK35 against garage

Here's a newer TK35UE at the full 3,200-lumen setting.

TK35UE against garage

Impressive, right? Not compared to the TK72R at the 9,000-lumen setting. The image says it all.

TK72R light output

Conclusion

Does anybody need this flashlight? Heck no. This is more flashlight than anyone needs, but sometimes you just want to treat yourself. Also, Father's Day is coming up very soon. If you have a father who would love a crazy-powerful flashlight that might double as a fire-starter, look no further. This is it. The TK72R currently retails for $329.95 at https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-tk72r-rechargeable-led-flashlight-9000-lumens-1/.

If you're looking for a flashlight under $100, I also posted a short review of the Fenix UC35v2.0 last week.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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