How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

The one home inspection question we get asked most often: Will that be in the report?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

When we first started doing home inspections fifteen years ago, there was a inspector in Key West that had been doing it since the era of carbon-copy report forms and Polaroid photos. He dressed for the job like it was golf outing, in tropical-sherbet color shorts and a polo short, and carried only three things: a large screwdriver, flashlight, and a clipboard. You had the option of an oral or written report, and the oral report was a bargain. He was definitely “old school.”

    But those days are gone. Almost all inspectors today use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to assemble their report, along with a bag of hi-tech tools. Plentiful digital photo documentation is the norm, and the computer-generated report is sent by email or retrieved from a data server. While there is no lack of back-and-forth conversation about the house with a customer during the inspection, the report document is what everyone refers to and depends on for the facts.

    All the defects found during the inspection that need repair will be in the report. But any conversations about suggestions for safety upgrades or home improvement options are not included. A home inspection is meant to give the buyer a good understanding of the condition of the home and often referenced in negotiations. When suggestions or commentary are added, no matter how well-meaning, they often get misinterpreted as defects that the seller should repair or else provide a price discount. A buyer-seller squabble then ensues that benefits no one.

    The standards of practice for the major home inspector associations and the State Florida all require that the defect and its location must be clearly defined and, if the reason it is a defect is not self-evident, then a brief explanation should be added. It is both an advantage and disadvantage of computer-generated reports that an inspector can add anything from an pre-written explanatory sentence to several pages of detailed and illustrated notes with just the click of a button.

    Sometimes these instant orations make the report easier to understand; but often, it seems, they overrun the facts and gunk up the report. Every home inspector has a balance point where they feel the quantity of explanatory notes is useful but does not weigh down the report. There are also inspectors who think that the more boiler-plate data you can insert into the pages, the more the report will impress the customer. We are of the less-is-better attitude, and often refer customers to one of our blogs for more info, rather than adding excessive text to the report. 

    So the short answer to the “Will that be in the report?” question is yes, if it is a defect and requires repair. Also, see our blog post What is a home inspector not allowed to do?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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