Tips on Reading an Inspection Report
When interviewing a home inspector, ask the HOME INSPECTOR what type of inspection report format he or she provides after the home inspection. There are many styles of inspection reports used by property home inspectors, including the checklist home inspection report, computer generated inspection report using home inspection programs, and the narrative style home inspection reports.
Some inspection reports are delivered on site at the inspection and some may take as long as 4 – 6 days for delivery of the home inspection report. All reporting systems have pros and cons.
The most important issue with an home inspection report is the descriptions given for each item or component. A home inspection report that indicates the condition as “Good”, “Fair” or “Poor” without a detailed explanation is vague and can be easily misinterpreted. An example of a vague condition would be:
Kitchen Sink: Condition – Good, Fair, or Poor.
None of these descriptions gives the homeowner an idea about what is wrong. Does the sink have a cosmetic problem? Does the home have a plumbing problem? A good report should supply you with descriptive information on the condition of the site and home. An example of a descriptive condition is:
Kitchen sink: Condition – Minor wear, heavy wear, damaged, rust stains, or chips in enamel finish. Recommend sealing sink at counter top.
As you can see, this narrative description includes a recommendation for repair. Narrative inspection reports without recommendations for repairing deficient items may be difficult to comprehend, should your knowledge of construction be limited.
Take the time and become familiar with your report. Should the inspection report have a legend, key, symbols or icons, read and understand them thoroughly. The more information provided about the site and home, the easier to understand the overall condition.
At the end of the home inspection your home inspector may provide a summary with a question and answer period. Use this opportunity to ask questions regarding terms or conditions of the home that you may not be familiar with. A good home inspector should be able to explain the answers to your questions at the home inspection. If for some reason a question cannot be answered at the time of the home inspection, the home inspector should research the question and obtain the answer for you. For instance, if the home inspector’s report states that the concrete foundation has common cracks, be sure to ask, “Why are they common?” The answer you should receive will be along these lines: common cracks are usually due to normal concrete curing and or shrinkage. The home inspector’s knowledge and home experience is how the size and characteristics of the cracking is determined.
We recommend that you accompany your home inspector through the entire home inspection if possible. This helps you to understand the condition of the home at the inspection and the details of the inspection report.
Read the inspection report completely and understand the homes condition of the home you are about to purchase. After all, it is most likely one of the largest investments you will ever make. We always work for you the home buyer.