Report Writing: First Person or Third Person

A home inspector in Connecticut recently asked me this question: Which report writing style is more defensible: writing in the first person or the third person? “I observed the roof to be in poor condition” or “The roof is in poor condition.”

I personally cannot recall ever reading a report that called out defects in the first person but that certainly does not mean that there have not been any. I think that most reports are written in a style that flows from first to third and back in a logical non-jarring way. “The roof appears to be in serviceable condition. No signs of water infiltration were observed, I recommend that you inquire of the sellers whether they have ever had any problems with the roof.”

But I do not believe that the choice of person – first or third – has any bearing on the defensibility of the report. The reports that I have the easiest time defending are ones that note the defect/concern in clear language, show a photograph of it with a red arrow pointing to it and repeat the observation in the Report Summary.