Understanding your inspection report.
- Mar, 22 2021
Now that you have received your inspection report how do you understand it so that it can provide you the most value?
This is one of the most important parts of the home inspection process. If you don’t understand your report it could end up costing you money in unforeseen repair costs or worse yet the sale or purchase of your home. This is the last thing we want as home inspectors, I have put together this post to help you understand how to best utilize your inspection report.
First, what does an inspection report include? Well that can vary slightly, as every company will follow their own protocols or operating procedures. For us, we follow InterNachi’s Standard of Practice for our inspections. This is the largest and most trusted home inspector training and accreditation organization in the world. Their SOP is fairly long but you can read it HERE on their website for more details. Here are the highlights of what is covered.
1.1. A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below), performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. The scope of work may be modified by the Client and Inspector prior to the inspection process. I. The general home inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions. II. The general home inspection will not reveal every issue that exists or ever could exist, but only those material defects observed on the date of the inspection. 1.2. A material defect is a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. The fact that a system or component is near, at, or beyond the end of its normal, useful life is not, in itself, a material defect. 1.3. A general home inspection report shall identify, in written format, defects within specific systems and components defined by these Standards that are both observed and deemed material by the inspector. Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations.
You can expect to find the following areas to be inspected: Roof, Exterior, Basement, Foundation, Crawlspaces, Structure, Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, Electrical, Fireplace, Attic, Insulation & Ventilation, Doors, Windows, and Interior.
Within these areas the inspector is again looking mostly at material and safety defects. Inspectors are not required inspect cosmetic defects but often will note them in the report for the client. Inspectors can not inspect anything they can not easily see, meaning if a house or room is full of the owners belongings and there are things that are covered up or hidden they will not be covered in the inspection report. An inspector is not required to move anything to inspect so if there are boxes or clothes or whatever it may be in the way it may prevent a through inspection. Imagine that your inspector has their hands tied behind their backs and have to inspect your house in that manner, that is basically what we are restricted to do in the Standard of Practice although inspectors will often take reasonable measures to inspect as much as possible for their clients.
Inspectors are not required to inspect the size or capacity of systems such as HVAC or Plumbing. Rather we are looking for things such as leaks, corrosion, and damage we can see. Once again though depending on the inspector and their experience in certain trades they may make comment above and beyond the SOP if they wish as service to their customers.
Inspectors are not code inspectors either, and the SOP does not require us to be. This means we are not inspecting the home for code compliance. Often we will note things that exceed building codes as safety issues, this is because a building code is the bare minimum required by a municipality. If an inspector sees something they deem unsafe, regardless of code requirements they will note it in their report. A common defect we see that is noted is railings not meeting the standard safety requirements. This is sometimes not of concern to a buyer without little kids, regardless it will be in our report. If you see something in the report that isn’t of concern to you that is ok, it is still our job to report it.
The standard inspection does not include any environmental test (mold, radon, moisture, CO, ect.). Your inspector may want to offer some of these services at an additional cost but it is not required as a home inspector.
This is a brief description of what your home inspection will include. Again we recommend you clicking HERE to read the full Standard of Practice from InterNachi if you have any questions.
Now how do you read this report and what does it mean? First off I want to clarify that an inspection report is meant to be used as a tool for our clients to understand better what they are purchasing. This report should not be used to scare you away from a home or as a way to try and make a seller pay for every single thing in this report. Buyers should understand age and condition of the home play a huge roll in the price of a home. If you are purchasing an older home you can typically expect more things to show up in a report, this does not mean you shouldn’t buy the house necessarily or that the seller owes to fix all these issues before closing. We highly encourage you to talk to your agent about what is common in your area and how to proceed with those questions. We don’t want a few defects in a home deter you from buying the home of your dreams, we just want to you be aware of the defects make the best decisions for you weather that is buying the home or negotiating more.
We also often put a lot of information into our reports that are more of an FYI for our customers. We want our customers to know they need to service the AC unit or furnace every year. We want you to know that the AC unit has a typical service life of 20 years and that if yours is close to that age you need to be aware of that so you can budget for replacement in coming years and make sure to get it serviced every year to prolong its life. That would be a great example of something a seller might not typically pay for but we want you to be aware of it. We might let you know that you need to seal the cracks in your driveway so that they don’t freeze and expand causing your driveway to deteriorate faster than it should costing a lot of money down the road. These types of FYI comments in your report can be just as important as valuable as big finds such as a leak or damaged foundation. This is why it is super important to read your entire report and not just the major material defects.
Another important part of a home inspections is attending it in person. We like our customers to come to our home inspections at the end to do a walkthrough with us. We do like to do the inspection without someone following us around just for the sake of staying focused on the task at hand and not missing something. Once we are completed we love to walk around with our customer and show them what we found. This helps answer almost all the questions and keeps us all on the same page. We do our best to take great photos and videos for our reports but nothing replaces an in person interaction. We find there are far less issues and concerns if we walk the property with a customer rather than just email them the report. Making our customers feel comfortable and knowledgeable in their purchase or not of a home is our goal and being at your inspection will help us do that.
Owner – Double H Inspections
Servicing Sherida, Buffalo, and Gillette Wyoming
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