Understanding your home inspection report

 Submitted by Randy Yates, Technical Supervisor and Technical Training Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate

Couple in house + inspection reportYou’ve had your home inspection and now you have the report in your hands. What to do with it? You’ll definitely want to check out the summary, but that shouldn’t be the only part you read. The importance of including the comment “The summary is not the entire report” is that in a real estate transaction, typically the Realtor only wants the summary page because it contains all items the inspector rated defective or requiring repair. But that shouldn’t be the only part you’re interested in.

The defects section is crucial in the sale of a house, as it will be used to either negotiate or renegotiate the sale of the property. Nevertheless, the entire report needs to be read. There could be items of interest that may not, in the inspector’s opinion, require repair or replacement but rather maintenance — such as cleaning gutters or touching up paint. For this reason, to get a clear view of the entire house, home buyers should read the entire inspection report, not just the summary section.

In addition, you should make sure to hold on to your home’s inspection report and keep it in a handy, accessible spot. It will serve as a reminder of do-it-yourself projects that you need to work on, as well as home maintenance projects you’ll want to do.


Yates PhotoWith more than 10 years of experience in his current position and over 30 years of experience in remodeling and contracting, Randy Yates provides technical training to new NPI/GPI inspectors and provides field support to all NPI/GPI inspectors.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home from roof to foundation. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for your next home inspection.

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The Overly Disclaimed Home Inspection Report

By Randy Yates, Training Consultant Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate

Inspection Report_shutterstock_79995865Let’s say you are buying a house and you’re ready to have it inspected. You go with your Realtor’s recommendation for a home inspector, give him/her the necessary information about the house and set up your inspection. The inspector tells you to check your email for the preinspection agreement, which will need to be signed before the inspection can be done.

When you open the preinspection agreement, you find that is really long — more than five or six pages. Then, after the inspection, your inspector delivers a report that is 75 to 100 pages long. You notice that both the preinspection agreement and the report are full of disclaimers, such as, “In an occupied home with furnishings,” “Depending on usage, “Except under extreme conditions,” and “The inspector may not be able to guarantee discovery.” If this is the case, you may be the recipient of an overly disclaimed home inspection report.

Because home inspectors may be held responsible for damage or problems that are visibly present at the time of inspection but not included in the inspection report, some inspectors include an overabundance of disclaimers in their preinspection agreements and reports. While it is important that home buyers know the limitations of a home inspection, an overly disclaimed inspection report is needlessly long and tedious.

So, what do those disclaimers really mean?

  • In an occupied home with furnishings: The inspector likely had limited visibility of certain areas due to furniture, clutter, moving boxes, etc.
  • Depending on usage: The inspector is covering the bases by saying that using the component too much (or too little) could affect its life span.
  • Due to the weather: The inspector should note the weather at the beginning of the report, as rain and snow may impede his/her ability to inspect components like a roof or grading.
  • Except under extreme conditions: This is unclear, as “extreme” is often a matter of opinion.
  • The inspector may not be able to guarantee discovery: Again, this is usually stated in the preinspection agreement and maybe at the beginning of the report. It doesn’t need to appear more often than that.

How to Spot a Good Inspection Report
Each section of your home inspection report should state the facts about the property’s condition at the time of inspection. Any disclaimers, within reason, and limitations should be listed in the “scope of work” section of the preinspection agreement. There’s no need for an inspector to add a disclaimer to every statement or note in the report.

A competent inspector will clearly outline any limitations and exclusions specific to the inspection. For example, “The roof was not accessible for inspection due to snow,” or “The attic was not inspected due to home owner’s personal possessions blocking the access.” In situations such as these, the inspector should document the disclaimer statement with a photograph.

The main reason you’re having an inspection is to find out any problems with the house, right? So, in the inspection report, your inspector should state any problems, include a photograph of each problem, explain why something is or could be a concern, and describe the corrective course of action. Your inspector may also point out outstanding or superior features of the property. If the inspector sticks to this process, then there is really no need to include an excess of disclaimers, and certainly not in every statement throughout the report.

Your inspection report should be written in simple laymen’s terms, with comments that are clear and concise. You (and your real estate agent) are less likely to read an entire report that is overwritten. Regardless of the report’s length, do make sure to read the entire report, and if there’s terminology or anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to call your inspector and ask for clarification.

Yates PhotoWith more than 10 years of experience in his current position and over 30 years of experience in remodeling and contracting, Randy Yates provides technical training to new NPI/GPI inspectors and provides field support to all NPI/GPI inspectors. To find an inspector in your area, click one of the links below:


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How Should You Read an Inspection Report?

Submitted by Kenn Garder, Technical Support, NPI/GPI Corporate Office

Inspection Report_shutterstock_79995865When you start a book or an article, do you start at the end and read the last few paragraphs to see how it all turns out? Do you just skim the headlines or the headings?

When purchasing a house, having a home inspection is usually recommended. A home inspection consists of a visual inspection of the house and a written report documenting the findings of the inspection.

When hiring an inspector, ask them to explain the report format they use. In today’s digital world, most reports are computer-generated and will include photos of the property. Some will be narrative, some a checklist or a combination of the two.

One of the items the inspector will discuss is the preinspection agreement — the contract for the inspection that discusses the inspection process, the limitations and exclusions, and the standards of practice to which the inspector is inspecting. You should read and sign the preinspection agreement prior to the inspection, and it may be included in the report.

When the inspection is complete the inspector may offer a walkthrough or complete a brief overview of what they found in the house. When you receive the report, those items should be included in the report.

So, where is the best place to start when reading an inspection report? The summary probably lists all of the issues that the inspector found, right? Well, it should, but there are times when good tidbits of information or potential issues are included in the body of the report and may not make it to the summary page. Be sure to read the entire report. According to multiple sources, including Angie’s list, you should focus on the most costly problems and potential health hazards first.

Any mention of water leaking, potential leaks, intrusion from the exterior — no matter how minor they may seem — need to be addressed, as water intrusion can cause health and structural issues in a building. Issues in the plumbing water supply or drain system can also lead to costly repairs.

Electrical systems may have issues that may not meet current safety standards. While most home inspectors are not code officials they should address safety items. Roofs and exterior wall coverings are designed to keep water out of the house, and minor issues can grow into large issues under the right conditions.

Recommendations for repairs or further evaluations by qualified contractors should be acted on prior to closing, if possible, especially on major components of a house.

When reading the report, seek clarification from the inspector if you have questions or concerns, and a good report may include additional explanations of a system in the house. Your inspection report can be used as a resource for ongoing maintenance items of your new home.

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