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. 

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 a document that details the results of a home inspection, which is a thorough examination of a residential property. The purpose of a home inspection is to identify any defects or problems with the property that may affect its value or safety. The report typically covers the condition of the home’s structure, systems (such as electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling), and appliances. It may also include recommendations for repairs or improvements.

During a home inspection, the inspector will typically examine the property’s exterior, including the roof, siding, and foundation. They will also inspect the home’s interior, including the walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, and any built-in appliances. The inspector will look for signs of wear and tear, as well as any issues that may pose a safety hazard or affect the property’s value.

The home inspection report is typically provided to the buyer of the property, as well as the seller and any other interested parties, such as real estate agents or mortgage lenders. The report can help buyers make informed decisions about the property and may be used to negotiate repairs or credits with the seller. It is important to note that a home inspection is not a guarantee that all issues with the property will be identified, and further inspections may be necessary.

What does a home inspection report look like?

A home inspection report is a detailed document that outlines the condition of a home and its various systems, such as the roof, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). The report should include photographs and descriptions of any deficiencies or problems found during the inspection, as well as recommendations for repairs or improvements.

  • 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 focusing on each part of the home so you can assess each area more easily. 
    • Roof: condition of the roof, flashing, gutters, and downspouts
    • Exterior: siding, trim, doors, windows, and foundation
    • Structural: beams, columns, walls, and floors
    • Electrical: panel, wiring, outlets, and switches
    • Plumbing: water heater, pipes, fixtures, and drains
    • HVAC: furnace, air conditioning, and ductwork
    • Interior: walls, floors, ceilings, doors, and windows
    • Insulation: type, condition, and thickness
    • Appliances: oven, range, refrigerator, and dishwasher
  • 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?

A home inspection report is a document that provides a detailed evaluation of a home’s condition. It covers the condition of the home’s major systems and components, including the roof, foundation, electrical and plumbing systems, and appliances. A home inspection report can be useful for both buyers and sellers of a home.

For buyers, a home inspection report can provide valuable information about the condition of the home they are considering purchasing. It can help them identify any potential issues with the home and make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase. A home inspection report can also help buyers negotiate with the seller for repairs or credits to cover the cost of repairs.

For sellers, a home inspection report can provide an opportunity to address any issues with the home before it goes on the market. This can help the seller avoid potential delays or complications during the sales process and potentially improve the sale price of the home.

Overall, a home inspection report can provide a more complete understanding of the condition of a home, which can help both buyers and sellers make informed decisions about the home.

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.

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 decide to purchase the property.

Issues like major storms, a burst pipe, or a fire could affect the property after the inspection. 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.