Q: I’ve made an offer on my first home but I’m not sure what to expect from my home inspection report. What should be in the report that I get from my home inspector?
A: On a very basic level, each report must satisfy the standards of practice set by the Home Inspection Association. Essentially, this clearly defines what systems and components the inspector is required to inspect and report on during a home inspection. It also includes items that are not required, or beyond the normal scope of a home inspection. You can easily obtain this information from each home inspector association, or by asking the inspector directly.
Although many people want to know whether they should buy a home, it is important to know that the main purpose or the report is to provide enough information to make an informed buying decision. Legally, we cannot persuade buyers on what we think they should do.
There are roughly three different report formats available to home inspectors.
The easiest and most efficient report for the inspector is a checklist-style report. It is designed to provide very brief details, and typically provided on site. The earliest versions of this style are paper format, which is usually compiled inside a binder.
The other style of report is called a narrative report. They are usually prepared and sent after the home inspection. Narrative style reports offer more detailed information than a checklist, which is why they take longer to prepare. They are computer-generated and typically sent as a PDF attachment. These reports save paper, which is good for environmentally conscience individuals.
The third most common report style is a combination of a narrative and checklist report. This report can be a good guide for a seasoned homebuyer. They are brief when describing areas of little concern, yet more detailed on items related to safety or potential significant costs.
It is also important to know that, here in BC, home inspectors are discouraged from providing costs for repairs or replacement items, especially within the report. More on that here.
Client feedback suggests the following that the more detail provided, the better the value, especially for a first-time homebuyer.
The most valuable reports offer:
- a major or significant deficiency summary;
- photographs within the report sections;
- specific, narrative details when possible;
- customized information, relevant to the inspection property;
- thorough advice, yet easy to read and navigate;
- maintenance and prevention tips; and
- resources for major issues, such as where to find contractor for repairs.
The best way to determine if the report meets your satisfaction is to ask to look through a sample report before you choose your home inspector.