We have completed a thorough inspection of the home. We have looked in all the nooks and crannies. And now it is time to put our observations and recommendations in the inspection report. Providing a written inspection report is one of the few requirements the State of Georgia places on home inspectors. If the customer accompanied the inspector during the inspection and the inspector discussed the items that need attention then part of the job has been done. If the other extreme was the case and the customer was not at the inspection then the report must be sure to accurately describe problem items, where they were located and what the recommendations for correction might be.

In the article, The Inspector’s Role and Responsibility we discussed the inspection procedure, what was included and how the inspection was conducted using the ASHI Standards. As pertaining to the inspection report, the Standards state,

Report:

Those systems and components inspected that, in the professional judgment of the inspector, are not functioning properly, are significantly deficient, unsafe, or are near the end of their service lives.

Recommendations to correct, or monitor for future correction, the deficiencies reported

Reasoning or explanation as to the nature of the deficiencies reported that are not self-evident

Systems and components designated for inspection but were not, and why they were not inspected

A typical inspection report comment based on the above criterion might be worded thusly. “The attic furnace would not respond to the thermostat. The system appears neglected and should be cleaned and serviced by a licensed qualified HVAC contractor.”

The inspector must never forget that his/her role in the inspection process is to educate their customer concerning the condition of the property so they can make an informed purchasing decision. As stated above, just pointing out a problem is not following the procedures established for competent inspectors.

Inspectors use various report formats from computer based software to pre-printed sheets that are filled out at the time of the inspection and a copy left with the customer. Reports in any format may be completed at the inspection site or later and sent to the customer. In reality it is not about the type of format used, weather there are pictures or a summary page but how informative the report is and how useful it is as a tool. I was once handed a 64 page inspection report on a property that was inspected two weeks previous. I was about to inspect the same house for another potential buyer. The report contained 36 pictures and over 25 items on the summary page that required attention. The report showed dozens of cosmetic items that were brought to the customer’s attention, but there were several obvious structural problems I found that were missed. These items were going to be very expensive to correct and were never mentioned in the previous inspection report. The quantity of the inspection report is no substitute for the quality of the content. Most reports provide summaries of the most important items and recommendations for correction. The summaries, however, may not contain all the discussion from the main part of the report. Not everything may get copied to the summary items. It is very important to read and use the entire inspection report, not just the summary. A sample of our report can be accessed from this home page.

The Standards state that the report should be non-technical and written so it is understood. Remember, the inspection report is supposed to be a helpful and informative tool for your customer. The inspector must also know his customer. They will range from the very experienced who have purchased many homes to the first time home buyer with no knowledge of how a house works. One of my greatest learning experiences concerning the knowledge differences of my customers occurred years ago when during an inspection I wanted to point out something in the attic that needed repair so my customer would know what to look for when it got fixed. He was a foreign gentleman and I thought a visual and detailed look would assist him to know what to look for. I took several steps off the furnace platform on to the ceiling joists covered with insulation and was about to turn and tell my customer to stand on the furnace platform. Unfortunately, in his eagerness, he followed me and put his foot down through the ceiling. To make matter worse he tried to right himself by putting his other foot through the ceiling on the other side of the ceiling joist leaving him very uncomfortably balance and screaming things in a language I didn't understand. I was looking down at a four foot square hole in the master bedroom ceiling and below a bedroom full of pink Corning Fiberglass insulation. Later, when I was reasonably sure he was not going to sue me and that he had refused medical attention, he was still perplexed on how I was able to walk on that pink fluffy stuff and not fall through the ceiling. I have never taken another customer’s knowledge for granted.

The next article is a real sleeper. There may be nothing more boring for a customer than attending a pre-drywall inspection.

This and all previous articles can be found on our website. The website also has a sample inspection report. edificeinspections.com

Jeff Nichols

Edifice Inspections, Inc.