How do you inspect in the rain and keep yourself and your gear dry? Spring is almost on us, and for many appraisers that means rain. Whether you’re an appraiser on the Oregon coast who gets more annual rainfall than Seattle, or an appraiser in typically dry New Mexico, everybody gets rain at some point. Keeping your paper, clipboards, pocket PCs, cameras and other field gear dry can be a challenge. What follows are ideas appraisers have posted on the WinTOTAL User’s Group on www.Yahoo.com, as well as some of our own bits of advice for staying dry. Some are funny, some are serious. Others are low-tech, while others are high-tech, and some are just plain weird.
Don’t go out in the rain. Failing that, cancel the appointment. (Common sense should always come first, right?)
One appraiser on the WinTOTAL User’s Group (WTUG), said, “I use a clear bag similar to what comes in a small appliance box (like for a toaster) to cover my clipboard which allows me enough space to stick my hand in with a lead pencil, write and draw on my graph paper. If you know any welders, they have great clear packaging bags that cover the MIG welding wire. They are the perfect size.” Another mentioned using turkey cooking bags.
If you’d prefer a more high-tech version of a turkey cooking bag, check out www.WetWriteSolutions.com. These folks offer several kinds of waterproof slip covers for your clipboard. Prices vary based on what you’re looking for, but their A5 Weatherwriter clipboard is $46. They also offer waterproof notebooks and protective cases.
A number of appraisers mentioned using a brand of paper called Rite In The Rain paper. Their legal sized all-weather copier paper costs $37.85 for 200 sheets. Perhaps this isn’t the cheapest option, but one that definitely comes highly recommended by a number of your peers. Visit www.RiteInTheRain.com for more information.
For another low-tech option, one appraiser said he uses a jacket with a waist drawstring. He drops his clipboard in the front of his jacket while in the weather.
The weirdest option we’ve seen is “Nubrella — the hands-free space helmet-like umbrella.” We’ll let you Google that one on your own. If you buy one and wear it on an inspection, send us a picture. We’ll print it here. Promise.
Another choice that comes up a lot is using a good old aluminum clipboard that opens up to hold contents inside. Water-resistant options abound, and can also hold cameras, pens, paper and tape measures. And speaking of tape measures, don’t forget that the DISTO is quite water resistant as well.
Another choice is the DryPak brand waterproof bags. One of our long-time Beta members, Phil Marler of Coos Bay, Oregon said, “We actually get more annual rainfall than Seattle, so I work in the rain a LOT. I stopped using a clipboard many, many years ago. I used a Pocket PC and Pocket TOTAL/MobileSketch for many years. I bought a waterproof bag made by a company called DryPak. I inspect houses in blowing rainstorms and never have a problem. I use a DISTO to measure the house as well. Also, I recently switched to the iPhone app from a la mode (see DaVinci for iPhone on page T6) and discovered that my iPhone actually works inside the DryPak bag, too.” Check out DryPak bags at www.JetLogic.com/DryPak. iPhone cases are $13.99. Camera cases are $15.99.
For the ultimate in waterproofing your electronics, check out www.OtterBox.com. These guys offer waterproof cases built specifically for most PDAs, Pocket PCs, smartphones (including iPhones) and tablet PCs. They’re vented well, and in some cases include built in fans to keep your hot running devices, like a tablet, from overheating in an enclosed case. Prices are about what you’d expect, but are well worth the investment.
If you’ve got other suggestions to share with your fellow appraisers, send an e-mail to Editor@AppraisalPress.com. We’ll pass it on!