Today, inspection reporting is considered a cornerstone of any home transaction. In fact, many property sales hinge on these report findings, especially if the home in question has chronic maintenance needs or a history of unpermitted renovations.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Prior to the founding of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)—the industry’s first reputable governing body—in 1976, there were no standardized inspection guidelines or licensure requirements for inspectors. This created quality inconsistencies across different inspection services, no intuitive way to determine the best inspectors, and a general distrust for the service.
Now, with the growth of oversight organizations, like ASHI and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), standardization lies at the heart of all home inspection services—so much so that most inspectors will attach a page to their reports that specifically details their credentials, affiliations, and operational standards.
That said, not all home inspections are reported the exact same way. Here’s a little more information to give you a better sense of what reporting aspects remain the same across inspectors, as well as which differ:
What Should Be in Your Report Regardless of Your Inspector
- General Client and Property Information:
Typically listed at the top of an inspection report, this preliminary information should include the client’s name, the basic property specs and information along with the weather conditions at the time of inspection.
- Detailed Descriptions of Defects:
Any defective home features or equipment should be thoroughly described, even in checklist-based reports. They should also be paired with a projection of each defect’s severity, such as a detailed analysis of whether a defective fixture endangers the long-term safety and structural integrity of a property.
- Solutions, Not Just Problems:
Identified defects should also carry a recommendation from the home inspector, whether it’s a call for outright repair or a second opinion from a more specialized professional. If you’re working with a general inspector, it’s important to remember that they are trained to identify vulnerabilities in different home systems, but not necessarily in how to repair each one. A home inspector may be able to tell you that your windows are warped or improperly fit, but you’ll have to rely on trained window replacement experts to fix the issue.
Where Home Inspection Reporting Differs
The starkest difference is seen with report formatting. There are three primary report types: straight checklist, narrative reports and checklist with narrative reporting; then there is some additional variance depending on your inspector, how many pictures he or she takes, and which software program is used, if any.
Straight checklist reports are still being used, but many municipalities have banned them because they provide too many areas of interpretation for buyers, sellers, attorneys, contractors and basically anyone remotely involved in a home transaction.
As opposed to narrative reports, which include personalized, long-form descriptions of all identified defects, their unique severities, and repair solutions, checklist reports offer a restrictive, binary choice. Is this fixture functional? Does this feature need repair? Instead of elaborating on the intensiveness of the damage or repairs, buyers and sellers are left to make huge renovative decisions on vague assertions.
A narrative report, however, can leave buyers wondering whether the inspector actually checked all the areas not mentioned in their report (“Did they get interrupted and forget to check something?”). The customer is left hanging, assuming that everything the inspector didn’t mention is likely okay. Right?
But is it?
That’s where the benefit of a checklist with narrative reporting comes in. When a checklist with narrative reporting is assembled, pictures are taken of each room in the house as they are inspected. And yes, as the name implies, there is a checklist of items to show the customer that key areas and fixtures were inspected. Then, as with the straight narrative report, pictures of any identified defects or problems are taken and inserted into the report with a long-form description of each vulnerability, its severity, and repair solution—providing the customer the most thorough option in reporting, especially as a legal record.
Another important reporting difference to note is whether your inspector uses a software-based template or pen and paper. Obviously, this won’t affect what information can be reported, but some reporting software does contain boilerplate sections with location-specific inspection items. A digital report may give you the widest coverage of all possible home concerns, as opposed to relying on the thoroughness of your inspector and his blank sheet.
Small, But Important Things to Remember About the Home Inspection Process
- Most Inspections are Visually Based and Unexhaustive by Design : These visual inspections are comprehensive enough to allow inspectors to deliver their findings with a high degree of confidence, but there are some areas they may not assess—either because it would require key fixture disassembly or property demolition.
The home inspection industry has come a long way over the last few decades, especially in terms of standard operational and reporting procedure; but the process is still differentiated enough to cause confusion if you’re a first-time seller or buyer.
If the inspection process still feels unfamiliar and daunting even after reading this, it’s best to trust a professional home inspector that can help you navigate all property findings and advise you on the best solutions for each.
Since 2007, Advanced Look Property Inspections, LLC. has been one of the most preferred condo, townhouse, and single-family home inspectors in Metro Orlando and its surrounding areas. We’ve inspected hundreds-of-thousands of square feet of local real estate and are familiar with the way Central Florida homes are built. There’s simply no better option than Advanced Look Property Inspections, LLC. We provide comprehensive inspections and reporting on over 400 distinct home items to give buyers and sellers the best assessment of a property’s durability and functionality.
To learn more about our inspection reporting process, or to schedule your own Advanced Look Home Inspection, give us a call today at (407) 310-2828.
It will be the best move you’ll ever make!
*Home Inspection Areas include: Orlando, Kissimmee, Poinciana, Saint Cloud, Davenport, Clermont, Windermere, Celebration, Winter Garden, Ocoee, Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Sanford, Deltona, Deland, Winter Park, Maitland, Casselberry, Longwood, Winter Springs, Oviedo, Avalon Park, Lake Nona