The Best Home Inspection Report for You
A home inspection report has a central part to play in the acceptable conclusion of a real estate
transaction. Don't accept a home inspection report that is unexceptional. Once you have gone to
the trouble of putting an inspection contingency on a purchasing agreement (presumably as
protection from getting stuck with a money pit), get as much intelligence about the house as
possible so that you can most reasonably decide whether to complete or terminate the deal. Find
an inspector who issues an appraisal that is comprehensive in content, legibly formatted, and
precisely organized. Find an inspection report that best suits your needs.
Request a sample home inspection report from each inspector you are thinking of hiring, or
download it from his website. Then make a comparison of the sample reports in three different
ways, beginning with content. At one end of the spectrum would be thrown-together lists of brief
descriptions, similar to a checklist. At the other end would be reports with narrative and
explanations for all items. Check for photographs that shed light on the findings and evidence
that the inspector has put some thought into his write-up by offering a big-picture perspective
and potential ways defects might interrelate. See if the inspector has provided references
allowing the client to obtain more detailed information if he so desires.
The second way to compare is by format. What you would like is a thorough report body that
details all defects and a summary that focuses on the defects that require scrutiny. Don't restrict
your examination to the summary; you will get a better picture of the inspector's thoroughness
from the body. Evaluate the presentation of each item. Do you see a Finding statement, a
clarifying Implication, and a specific Recommendation (FIR)? Is the appropriate action to take
obvious? Is the document comprehensive enough that you would want to keep it as a long-term
record so that you could refer to it when house conditions change in the future?
The third way to compare is by organization. The best inspection report presents material so that
specific information is located easily and quickly. This means that findings are grouped by
system functionality (e.g., heating) and/or location (e.g., bathrooms), and that graphical symbols
or similar notational shorthand identify the nature and level of concerns.
This method of analyzing sample reports should lead you to an inspector who will conduct a
thorough and satisfying home inspection. The resulting inspection report promises to be a
document worth retaining for years.