Communication Skills

JS Tip 115: From the Writing Workshops: The Monster Sentence Returns

Earlier, we examined this sentence:

Improvement Deferred Maintenance: The perceived deferred maintenance situation for the subject property consisting of the building improvement, exterior non-building site improvements, attached fixtures assets based on observations obtained during the property inspection and subsequent information obtained during the appraisal process is rated by the appraiser as of the effective date of appraisal as average with modest atypical probable expenditures in this regard in the immediate future.

One sentence of sixty-six words. We suggested this rewrite:

Deferred maintenance costs will be average.

One sentence of six words. Many agreed with the rewrite; some disagreed. A respected friend said this:

Granted [the sentence] is cumbersome and runs on and on; however, all the information in the statement is necessary and pertinent. It was generated for a specific purpose and for a specific audience—people who read appraisals. 

The general layman encountering a sentence like this one would certainly respond as your readers did. If I read a statement that simply said, “Deferred maintenance costs will be average,” I’d think twice about paying $3,000 for the appraisal. 

So the debate is—the question is—“How do we include context and remain readable?”

How about this:

Improvement Deferred Maintenance

We appraise the maintenance costs as average.

Background

On Friday, June 10th, we visited the site and assessed three areas:

{C}·      {C}Improvements to the building

{C}·      {C}Improvements to the grounds

{C}·      Attached fixtures

We base our assessment on our observations at the site and from information we gathered later.

The challenge to be thorough and readable is an obtainable goal.

Next week: Where do the periods go?