This article will explore the different components of the Desktop Report Writer. Each area has a role in helping your report writing and providing clarity as to the best way to interact with the software.
Desktop Report Writer Interface
The Desktop Report Writer interface can be broken down into the following sections:
- Red - System Menu Bar
- Orange - Standard Toolbar
- Yellow - Template Toolbar
- Green - Sections Panel
- Blue - Main Section/Report Editor
- Violet - Picture Panel/Auxiliary Panel
System Menu Bar
This section contains options such as File, Edit, and View familiar to other software programs you may have interacted with. It also includes a significant option called HG Services. Any time you would like to interact with the HomeGauge cloud, such as when you need to upload or download templates and appointments, select this option.
The Standard Toolbar contains options to interact with your report. You can open a new report, save a currently open one, navigate through unanswered items and preview or publish to the Dashboard.
The template toolbar contains everything related to editing your template. Add, edit, and remove template items using the Add T, Edit T, and Delete T buttons. You can also cut, copy and paste template items using the appropriate buttons.
When you make a template change, the Save T button will look like the image below. When you see this, it's essential to save your template.
It's possible that your display doesn't accommodate the entire width of the toolbar. If this is the case, an arrow button will show the toolbar buttons that do not fit.
The section panel will be how you navigate through your report's different parts.
- Customer: Customer name, email, address, and contact information.
- Report Info: Date, time, and address of the inspection. You can also add real estate agents here.
- Misc: Report attachments, forms, invoices, radon tests, and notes for the inspector.
- General Info: Add information about the type of building, who was present during the inspection, weather, soil conditions, etc. The cover page photo is added here. It is also here where your comment key and definitions for the report may be edited.
- Components: Click the components button to get a complete list of your component items to view or edit them. Additionally, you may click on one of the inspection items to look at a component's inspection items.
- Optional: This section works similarly to the Components Section but separates components used less frequently.
- Summary: View items that have been sent to the summary. Also, it is here where you can add, edit, or remove summaries if you like.
Main Section/Report Editor
All editing of the report takes place inside the main panel. The top part lists the component section's inspection items. Each inspection item contains a set of column headers. Use your mouse cursor to place an x under the appropriate column header to display the condition or inspection status of the item. The key for the column headers will be listed above them for reference.
The column header marked with an X is designated to exclude the item. An excluded item will not show up in the final report.
Below the inspection items is the comment box. This full-featured comment editor has tools to adjust text and layout. Type in your comments about the particular item or leave it black if no comment is necessary.
Photos can be added, by dragging and dropping, to the grey area directly to the right of the comment box. When an image is added, the photo editor will come up.
Use the various tools to change the size of the image, and add text and other features to highlight the pertinent items in the photo.
Inspection Items, Styles & Materials, and Overview
At the top of the component are tabs for the inspection items, styles & materials, and overview. Click on each to access and edit different information for that component.
Styles & Materials
The Styles & Materials section allows you to check options for further details about an item. This section isn't meant to highlight deficiencies but to have an easy way to list types, brands, materials, number of things, etc.
The section displays two separate columns.
First, highlight one of the names on the left-side panel. A new list of options available will be shown on the right. Use your mouse cursor to highlight items from the right-side panel. You can select multiple options if the situation permits.
If you need additional notes about a particular option, you can just type them in the Extra Info field below the right-side panel.
The overview section contains a component section's header and footer. These two sections are generally reserved for disclaimer text informing the recipient of the report, your responsibilities as the home inspector, and any or all items you will not observe during the home inspection.
The Overview section also contains an area for section pictures. This area could be used for more general shots of the property if you want to show a larger view of what you are inspecting, but it's entirely up to you what you decide to put here.
Picture Panel/Auxiliary Panel
The auxiliary panel is mainly used to view photos to add the report. However, there are other tools here that help report writing. Click the tabs at the panel's top to access Drawings, Contacts, and CYA.
- Pictures: These show the photos to be added to the report. Click the Select Folder button (symbolized by the open Manila folder) and locate a folder on your computer containing images.
- Drawings: The Drawings Panel is similar to the Pictures Panel and should be interacted with similarly. Drawings can be used to incorporate diagrams into the report, illustrating things like properly functioning water heaters or HVAC units.
- Contacts: The Contacts Panel lists customers and real estate agents. You can add, edit, and remove contacts here if you like. The list of contacts shown in this panel is local to your computer and does not automatically sync with the HomeGauge database.
- CYA: This stands for "Check Your Answers." This panel will show everyday things to inspect for on the inspection item that you have highlighted. The CYA Panel is a valuable tool for new inspectors still training.
The best way to become familiar with a new piece of software is to use it. Conducting sample inspections of your home while using HomeGauge is a fantastic low-pressure way to learn everything you can do with it and become used to a workflow that feels comfortable to you.
Here is a list of keyboard commands for the HomeGauge Software:
|ALT+LEFT ARROW||Prev Report Part|
|ALT+RIGHT ARROW||Next Report Part|
|F3||Find Next Unanswered|
|CONTROL+F||Find First Unanswered|