What Does a Home Inspection Report Include?

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. 

This article covers all aspects of a home inspection report from knowing how to read it to understanding what to look for in a home report that will allow you to make well-informed decisions in a home-buying process.

What is a home inspection report?

A home inspection report is an official document that your inspector will give you after finishing the inspection. This report should include images of areas of the home that need attention or repair. The report will also include detailed descriptions of these issues and the impact they could have on the property. 

A home inspection report also includes a summary of some of the most critical issues that 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 a hyperlink that you can view online.

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, 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. 
  • Specific details like areas that need low-level repair, areas of concern, and areas or issues that need attention as soon as possible. Check the sample home inspection report at the InterNACHI® website to better understand what yours might look like. 

What are the benefits of a home inspection report?

There are many benefits of getting a home inspection report.

First, you’ll be able to see items around the house 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 allows you to understand what issues the property has before deciding whether it’s worth the investment. 

When you have a home inspection report, you can plan ahead since you know what issues need to be addressed and 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. 

Here’s a brief overview of what a typical home inspection report covers:

  • Home systems like heating and central air condition system, interior plumbing system, and electrical system
  • Key structural components like windows and doors, attic, foundation, garage, and the basement (when applicable)
  • The condition of the interior, such as the walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The exterior surfaces, including the roof and siding
  • Safety features like fire and carbon monoxide detectors, sprinklers, and handrails
  • Properly functioning appliances like the stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer
  • Insulation and ventilation in attic and foundation areas and places with venting systems and fans like the kitchen and bathrooms

What if a home inspector can’t access all areas of the home?

Since home inspections are scheduled in advance, there may be areas of the home that can’t be accessed by a home inspector, like a room with a locked door or if the homeowner has items that get in the way of the inspector’s access. 

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.

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

  • For buyers, an inspection report gives you negotiation power before you make an offer. It can also inform your decision to rescind your offer if the home is in poor condition and you don’t want to shell out cash for repairs
  • If you are a seller, the home inspection report gives you a chance to address these issues to close the sale. You can also order your own inspection before you list your home so you’re prepared for what a buyer may want to negotiate on

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

Housing inspection reports are not public records. They are confidential and solely owned by the client who hired the home 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.

What should I look for in the home inspection report?

Once you receive your home inspection report, read 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 make an offer. Remember that no home inspection is perfect. There will always be some minor flaws, but it’s the big items that you will need to 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 look at the seller’s home inspection report, it’s always better to get your own. Even brand-new homes may have defects that are not immediately obvious. Never count on the seller or their agent to provide you with an evaluation of the property you want to buy. Protect yourself and your hard-earned money by hiring a qualified home inspector. 

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. Always use the report to decide whether you want to make an offer to prevent problems from occurring between the time you make an offer and the time you close.

Final thoughts on a home inspection process

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. For home inspectors looking to provide a seamless home inspection process, from scheduling to report writing and delivery, the Inspection Support Network is here to make your job easier.