How to Read Your Home Inspection Report

Getting a home inspection done prior to buying or selling your house is important. This report will include key data about the condition of the structure and any potential areas of concern – or even positive feedback on things that are still in great working order. In so many ways these reports can benefit the buyer and the seller. 

If you’re new to home buying perhaps you’ve reached the point where your offer has been accepted and now they’re recommending you have an inspection done. What you’ll need to do now is find a credible home inspector. They should carry all necessary certifications and accreditations. 

During the inspection – you may be present and walk through some parts of the home with the inspector as he shares some details on what he’s seeing. But even if you’re not right there, don’t fear – you’ll receive an official report from the inspection results after the appointment. 

This document will be key for pricing your home’s resale value and for bargaining on the price before you purchase. These documents are usually fairly long and come to you in the form of a packet. There’s a lot of details to review but if you understand what to look for, it won’t be so overwhelming. 

Here’s how to read your home inspection report. 

Check for Report Formatting

Depending on how your report is formatted you may have a color-coded system or another breakdown that easily shows you the status and condition of the various items being reviewed. In some reports, a RED (poor) to GREEN (good) rating system is used to make it easy to see those items needing immediate concern. Once you understand how your report is laid out and you’ve had time to review the summary page, you can begin dissecting the contents for more information.

Understand Terminology

Without color coding to help you, there is also terminology that’s commonly used to describe the condition of certain things in the home that you should be familiar with to tell if what the inspector is reporting is concerning or okay. Things like “replacement needed” are pretty obvious but when you see Defect it could signal that you need another professional to look into the problem. Safety concerns and general repairs are also added for items that could still require attention – but not as serious.

Focus on Red Flags First

Whether you want to sell your home or buy a house, the red flags that come up in an inspection report should be the first items on your to-do list. These items could present a safety hazard and also significantly lower the value of the home. Flip to the areas of the report that have been outlined in the summary as most concerning or if color-coded – are in red. Things like problems with the home’s roof (which can be very expensive to fix) should be considered during negotiations or prior to the listing. Water in the basement and cracks in the foundation should also be carefully considered.