What Does a Home Inspection Report Look Like?

If you’re preparing to buy a home, getting a home inspection is a key part of the process that can protect you if something goes wrong. After the inspection is complete, you’ll receive a home inspection report. This report shows you information about the most critical components of the property, such as the roof, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical system. Knowing how to read and understand home inspection reports is essential in the home buying process. Knowing what to look for will help you make better-informed decisions about making an offer on a home. 

What is a home inspection report?

So, what is a home inspection report? A home inspection report is an official document that your inspector will give you after the inspection is completed. This report should include images of areas of the home that may need repair or attention. The report will also include detailed descriptions of these issues and the impact they could have on the property either now or in the future. There will also be a summary that consists of an overview of some of the most critical issues the home inspector finds. Depending on the inspector or home inspection company you hire, you’ll receive the report as a printed version, via PDF, or as an HTML link that you can view online.

What are the benefits of a home inspection report?

There are many benefits to getting an inspection report in real estate. First, you’ll be able to see items in and around the property that need attention that you may not have known about or noticed on your own. The report also gives you more power to negotiate with the buyer if you’d like to make an offer. For example, if the roof needs to be repaired or replaced, your real estate agent can ask the seller to replace it before you buy the home. Alternatively, they can ask the seller to lower the asking price to cover the cost so you can do it yourself. Getting a home inspection report lets you understand what issues the property has before deciding whether it’s worth the investment. You can plan ahead by knowing exactly which issues need to be addressed, and it helps you include these items in your home buying budget. 

What’s included in a home inspection report?

Housing inspection reports cover the condition of the home’s most important components. Items like the heating and central air condition system, interior plumbing system, electrical system, roof, attic, and visible insulation are included. The report will also provide more information about the condition of the interior, such as the walls, ceilings, and floors. It also addresses the windows and doors, foundation, basement (when applicable), and other key structural components. Since home inspections are scheduled in advance, there may be areas of the home that aren’t able to be accessed, like a room with a locked door or if the homeowner has items that get in the way of the inspector gaining access safely. In these cases, the home inspector will note the issue and indicate that they couldn’t access certain areas or systems of the home at the time of inspection. You can opt to reschedule the inspection when access can be gained or take your chances on these areas if they’re inaccessible at the time. 

What does a home inspection report look like?

Home inspection reports may vary in terms of what they look like, but all of them should generally include the same things. A standard inspection report will show photos of the roof, basement, and the exterior/interior of the home, along with notes indicating any issues that the inspector finds. The report is divided into sections that focus on each part of the home so you can assess each area more easily. It will also include specific details like whether there are areas that need low-level repair, areas of concern, and areas or issues that need special attention as soon as possible. You can view an example of a sample home inspection report at the InterNACHI® website to better understand what yours might look like. 

Why is a home inspection report important when buying or selling a property?

As a buyer, a home inspection report can save you from significant costs and headaches in the future. The report will address any serious issues that could end up costing you a lot of money if you buy the property. This protects you from shelling out cash later when you close and need to make repairs. It also gives you more negotiating power. As a seller, the home inspection report gives you a chance to address these issues in order to close the sale. You can also purchase your own pre-listing inspection so that you can make these repairs before putting your home on the market.

Where can I view housing inspection reports when looking for a property?

Housing inspection reports are not considered public records. They are confidential and solely owned by the client who hired the inspector. However, clients may decide to share their inspection report with anyone they choose. If you’re worried about a property that has been on and off the market, reach out to the listing agent. They may have a copy of the previous home inspection report, which can give you more insight into any possible issues that are pending with the home.

What should I look for in the home inspection report?

Once you receive your home inspection report, read over it carefully. Most reports will highlight each area of the home using a color-coded system that indicates the level of concern. Take note of any items that are flagged as needing “special attention,” as these are items that you should address before you decide to make an offer. It’s important to note that no home inspection is perfect. There will always be some minor flaws or issues, but it’s the big items that you should make sure that you address with the seller and your agent. 

Home inspection report red flags 

Here are some red flags that you should look for when you receive your home inspection report:

  • Water damage, including problems with grading, flooding in a basement, signs of previous water damage, or signs of mold/mildew
  • Issues with structural integrity like cracks in basement walls, uneven or bouncy floors, nails popping out of walls, leaning front porch stairs, a cracked chimney, or gaps between windows, walls, and floors
  • Roof problems like damaged or missing shingles, an issue with flashing, or signs of mold or algae growth
  • Problems with the electrical system like exposed wiring, painted outlets, knob and tube wiring, reversed polarity, or rooms with no GFCI protection
  • Plumbing concerns like polybutylene or polyethylene piping, rusty pipes, leaks, a clogged sewer line, water heater issues, or sediment buildup
  • Signs of mold or asbestos

Should I trust the seller’s home inspection report?

A seller may choose to pay for their own home inspection, but it’s up to you to do your own due diligence as a buyer. While you can certainly look at the seller’s home inspection report, it’s always best to get your own. Even brand-new homes may have defects that need to be addressed. Never count on the seller or their agent to provide you with an evaluation of the property you want to buy. By hiring a qualified home inspector, you can protect yourself and your hard-earned money. 

Does a home inspection report expire?

There is no expiration date on a home inspection report. Technically, a home inspection report is only good up to the day of the actual inspection. Most buyers get the inspection once they’ve decided they want to purchase the property. Issues like major storms, a burst pipe, or a fire could affect the property after the inspection is complete. It’s best to use the report to decide about making an offer as soon as possible to prevent problems from occurring between the time you make an offer and the time you close.

Bottom Line

Getting a home inspection report is an important step in the home buying process. Make sure you read the report thoroughly and talk to your agent about any issues you see before making an offer. The Inspection Support Network is here to help make inspectors’ jobs easier. Visit our website to learn more about our inspection software features today.