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Best Method For Field Notes And Sketches

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WestMichiganCG

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Michigan
I'm considering upgrading my Disto. I've researched the S910 Pro Pack from Leica and am considering pairing it with an Ipad mainly because I can get an Otterbox cover to keep it protected in the rain. I do have a Surface Pro but I have not found a waterproof solution for it and I'm afraid of dropping it. My current frustrations stem from not being able to measure on sunny days with my current DISTO special, the measuring tape slips off corners, my notes get rained on and it takes longer to measure angles that aren't 45 or 90 degrees. I would love a solution where I could transfer my measurements to a sketch on my Ipad where I could also take notes and pictures. Has anyone successfully used a DISTO, IPAD and TOTAL Sketch or other sketching program in the field and found it saved time? I'm also using TOTAL primarily to sketch buildings and for mapping and invoicing. My reports are typically done in Word. I know this is a common forum topic but I have not been able to find another appraiser who has been able to apply technology in such a way that it works in the field and is not overly cumbersome. Note that I'm considering a high power laser based no some of the large industrial, over 10 acre, buildings that I've appraised.
 

Artemis Fowl

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Michigan
My company has experimented some with going all digital inspection (we do many thousands of inspections every year). We still use camera, paper, pencil, disto, tape, miter and likely will continue to do so.
 
Joined
Jun 2, 2007
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
I envy residential appraisers - so efficient and it's always best to get everything into your software fresh on-site, isn't it? Efficiencies don't seem worth it in commercial, with the added risk of dropping your technology. The most progressive I've become includes six-sided stiff legal folders (with inserts for when somebody hands me something during an inspection), a self-made "cheat-sheet" inspection diagram/form, and pens that write on wet paper. We don't really "sketch" like you do in residential so I don't carry graph-paper (350-foot linear walls don't scale well anyway).
 

Valueseeker

Junior Member
Joined
May 19, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Massachusetts
I just picked up a disto D810. Measure in picture feature solves the sunny day issue. It pairs with total on perfect. The insane ways to measure is proving a time save for my inspections so far.

Regarding mobile: The rain is a killer

My solution so far:

Clipboard with a clear cover on top of your paper in the rain/snow

And mobile any other day

Nothing beats sketching right there in the field. I finally figured out how to set the auto-round from my disto which was a reason I wasn't pairing Bluetooth. I would go with a case that has a hand loop in the back. I just think you'll drop it less than with an otterbox case. Ipad2s are cheap enough on eBay

Field notes in mobile can be voice recordings, handwritten, typed so it's there! File sizes were an initial hurdle but you can adjust 'some' of those concerns in the settings.

What's also nice is having the whole workfile inside. If you have time to print the field card, MLS data, deed etc then you have the time to just dump it all into your mobile file. This way you have it for your report later on and it's easy to reference when your on site
 
Last edited:

WestMichiganCG

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Michigan
I just picked up a disto D810. Measure in picture feature solves the sunny day issue. It pairs with total on perfect. The insane ways to measure is proving a time save for my inspections so far.

Regarding mobile: The rain is a killer

My solution so far:

Clipboard with a clear cover on top of your paper in the rain/snow

And mobile any other day

Nothing beats sketching right there in the field. I finally figured out how to set the auto-round from my disto which was a reason I wasn't pairing Bluetooth. I would go with a case that has a hand loop in the back. I just think you'll drop it less than with an otterbox case. Ipad2s are cheap enough on eBay

Field notes in mobile can be voice recordings, handwritten, typed so it's there! File sizes were an initial hurdle but you can adjust 'some' of those concerns in the settings.

What's also nice is having the whole workfile inside. If you have time to print the field card, MLS data, deed etc then you have the time to just dump it all into your mobile file. This way you have it for your report later on and it's easy to reference when your on site

What sketch program are you using?
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
The most progressive I've become includes six-sided stiff legal folders (with inserts for when somebody hands me something during an inspection), a self-made "cheat-sheet" inspection diagram/form, and pens that write on wet paper
I carried an aluminum clipboard with a "pocket" under the clipboard for storing extra copies, 6" triangular ruler, Fisher Space pens and Rite-in-the-rain graph paper. I now refuse to inspect in the rain...I got old. I have a plastic grid that you place under a blank piece of paper and it lets you use the sheet over the grid. I copy and paste the assessor sketch into my inspection sheet, print it off and use that as a guide to measuring. I use a pocket legal folder to stuff extra pages in - they serve as the file folder as well, which are labeled with a stick on tab by number and name like 7099_smith and that goes in file after the report is done.
 

Valueseeker

Junior Member
Joined
May 19, 2016
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Massachusetts
What sketch program are you using?
Total. Although you can just use the disto app thats on the app store (not a fan of it). Total app is good. especially if you are going to get a BT laser. You can set the measurement rounding to what you want as its imported to the app. Also, take all the photos and just stick them in the report in the field. It makes them allocated to the correct address faster I think than doing them at home one by one (unless you drag&Drop).



I carried an aluminum clipboard with a "pocket" under the clipboard for storing extra copies, 6" triangular ruler, Fisher Space pens and Rite-in-the-rain graph paper. I now refuse to inspect in the rain...I got old. I have a plastic grid that you place under a blank piece of paper and it lets you use the sheet over the grid. I copy and paste the assessor sketch into my inspection sheet, print it off and use that as a guide to measuring. I use a pocket legal folder to stuff extra pages in - they serve as the file folder as well, which are labeled with a stick on tab by number and name like 7099_smith and that goes in file after the report is done.

I learned from a supervisor to use grid paper where each box was a foot. Helpful! I like the grid behind it instead. I print out blank grid paper from a google search and use this on the clipboard days
 

Charles West

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
As I am re-entering the field after a couple of years hiatus I decided to go full bore with tech and ordered a Xplore Xslate D10 tablet for field sketches and notes. Supposedly bomb proof, easy to see in sun light, and waterproof. Yet to be seen if it's a brillant move or a bone-headed one.
 
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