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How to Read an Inspection Report

A woman holding a folder in front of her face

You’ve made your offer, it’s been accepted and you’re now well on your way to the closing table. Before things go any further however, you’ve requested a home inspection—great move! A home inspection can help uncover things with the home that may cause issues now or down the line and is a great tool to help determine if the home is the right buy for you.

Many buyers are alarmed when they are handed the inspection report—it usually contains pages and pages of information about the home and documents even the smallest thing that could go wrong. Read on to learn some tips on understanding your inspection report, so you can make the best-informed decision for you.

Attend the Inspection if You Can
Understanding the inspection can start before the report is even completed if you attend the inspection at your potential new home. You can let your agent know that you would like to attend and arrive while the inspector is finishing up his tour of the home. Although the inspector will not be able to give you a full rundown of what they found, they will be able to give you a basic overview. While you’re there, you may be able to ask questions about findings and get more information about potential issues. Attending the inspection also gives you the opportunity to focus on the items that most concern you.

Start with the Summary
Before the report goes into the nitty gritty details of the inspection findings, you can take a look at the inspection’s summary page right up front that explains the major issues that may be detailed later in the report. Pay particular attention to issues with major systems including HVAC, plumbing and electrical and on any large cost items that may pop up, including the state of the roof and foundation. With the summary in mind, you can have a good idea of what to look for within the rest of the report, and you can keep things in better perspective.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Although the summary in the beginning will likely be relatively straightforward, you may run into questions as you work your way through the full inspection report. This is where the home inspector can help. As you go through the items, don’t be shy about asking your home inspector to explain items to you and to provide more details as needed. Inspectors can help you understand jargon, diagrams and acronyms and can help explain what certain issues might mean in the future. Their job is to make sure you have the most comprehensive understanding of issues with the home, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic
It can be easy to see a long list of potential issues in an inspection report and get nervous about the home purchase, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. All homes, even brand-new ones, have their issues and it’s an inspector’s job to find as many of those issues and potential problems as possible to help you make the most informed decision. Depending on your financial situation and how much you want the home otherwise, you can prioritize the issues and plan for them in the future. The goal isn’t to find the perfect house with no problems, because that home just doesn’t exist. Instead, you want to focus on finding a home that you can afford for the long term, and that you can financially plan for.

At the NC Housing Finance Agency, our goal is to be sure you are financially prepared for home ownership so you can become a successful homeowner. Learn more about all the ways the Agency can help make home ownership happen for you at www.HousingBuildsNC.com.