With the real estate industry having undergone so many changes over the last three decades, it should no longer be a surprise that the process of home inspection has seen considerable improvements. These changes, which are mostly economic and legal in nature, were designed to meet the now higher consumer expectations, while also providing both inspectors and home buyers with clearer, easier-to-understand information.
If you are a home buyer, it is important that you take the time to learn more about home inspection reports, what it should contain, and what you should expect to learn from it. This article is designed to give you an overview of these necessary, required documents.
The Standards of Practice
As a consumer, you should always have time to inspect and educate yourself about the Standards of Practice being followed by the home inspector you chose to get into a contract with. In the event that the inspector does not have any ties or connections with a professional and authorized inspection organization, or if his reports do not display any standards, you should look for another inspector.
The general components of a Standards of Practice include the following:
- Description of the major systems of the home
- The crucial components of the major systems
- The operability of the major systems
- Detailed information about the possibility of dangerous or costly repairs in the event that these systems fail
- Apt descriptions of defects and problems
- Recommendations for the home buyer/owner
- Areas of the home that have not been inspected
All in all, the Standards of Practice are specifically designed for the identification of not only the home inspection requirements, but also the inspection’s limitations.
Availability of Reporting Software
Traditionally, home and building inspection reports had to be written by hand, since computers used to be expensive and complex. But with computer technology having become more affordable and easier-to-operate, it gave birth to the development of reporting software.
In today’s time and age, home inspectors now make use of various reporting software, which are basically computer programs. Inspectors have several organized boilerplate narratives they can update, edit, or add to, depending on a number of factors, such as local conditions.
Much thanks to these narrative programs, inspectors today now have the ability to generate highly detailed reports in as little time as possible.
Say for instance, an inspector has found that a home has some lights that are inoperable. In the software, there is a section labeled as “INTERIOR.” Here, the inspector can check the box that describes the property having some lights that are inoperable. This is then the scope of the information relayed to the client.
Narrative Content of the Home Inspection Report
The narrative content of a home inspection report usually comes in three parts. These include the following:
- Describing the condition of a potential problem or a concern found by the inspector.
- Describing the seriousness or severity of the condition, the potential consequences of not addressing the concern, and answers to questions regarding the current stability or if the problem has the likelihood of continuing.
- Recommending steps to be taken in order to resolve or correct the problems, such as if further evaluation should be done.
In many cases, home inspection reports start with a general informational section, describing the home, providing the name of the client, the lot size, and the year the home was constructed.
Some of the other details that are provided and are usually not included in the report’s main body are the disclaimers. You are going to find these pieces of information either near the beginning of the report, or close to the end. A copy of the inspection agreement may also be included, as well as a copy of the inspector’s Standards of Practice. Many experienced inspectors also dedicate a page or two for their own professional credentials, which include the following:
- The designations of the inspector
- The affiliations of the inspector
- The organizations or groups that the inspector is a member of
Inspection reports typically provide a summary report. This part contains information about any major problem. This way, inspectors can make sure that the reader does not miss any of the most important concerns and issues. As a home buyer, it is important that you are aware of all the potential safety issues and hazards, especially those that can bring about serious ramifications and those that are costly to correct.
Much thanks to the development of reporting software, inspectors can now include photographs of any relevant findings, and they often do so in the main body of the home inspection report. These images are usually found near the descriptions or the narratives. They may also be included in the report as groups, and are usually located near the beginning of the report, or towards its end.
To make it even easier for their clients, many reputable home inspectors include a table of contents in their reports. This way, readers can just check which page the information they need to re-read can be found.
The sections of the report’s main body are usually broken down into categories, based on which system of the home they belong in. Some of the classifications you may encounter in a home inspection report include the following:
- Living Room
Keep in mind though, that, while these are usually what you are going to find in home inspection reports, the name of the categories may still be different in your report, as it usually depends on how your chosen inspector works.
Sample reports can be found online. Experienced professional home inspectors provide such samples via their own websites, so that potential clients can check them out. Make sure that you take the time to do some research and review these samples, so that you can gauge which inspector you are going to be most comfortable working with.
In a nutshell, as a home buyer, you should have realistic expectations on what to expect with a home inspection report. Do not forget to read and understand the contract as well as the inspector’s the Standards of Practice.