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Understanding a Home Inspection Report

An Inspection Report is the essential document that describes the systems of a home and their condition at a specific time. Every realtor knows the importance of "The Report" and what it can mean for a sale. But I always include advice for my clients in my report meant to last a lot longer than just the sale; like information about maintenance and upkeep of various systems to keep them working properly over the long term. I've noticed my clients have all kinds of levels of knowledge about reports, what they mean, and how to understand them. To bring everyone up to speed, here are some important points to know about any Inspection Report you receive after a Home Inspection.

1. The Inspection Report is the property of the client. Washington Law says no one can use or distribute the report without your consent first. If anyone like an agent, another buyer, or the seller asks for the Inspection Report, you can refuse. This protects people from issues of legal disclosure.

2. The Report is in the past. Think of the report as a family photo. It captures the home at a specific point in time. If a sink was clogged or a pipe leaked during the inspection, it will be marked as defective, even if it seems to “fix itself” later. It works the opposite way too. Sometimes toilets clog or roofs leak after an inspection is performed. If no sign of those issues were there on the day of the inspection, they won’t be in the report either.

3. The Report is long. You should set aside time to read the entire report. If you skim it, you may miss important information. The summary at the end of the report highlights the most significant problems that need your attention.

4. Nothing is perfect. Don’t Panic! Everything can be fixed or replaced. I have never seen a home without a few defective items.

5. The report is not the end of inspections. Home inspectors are licensed generalists. We do not and cannot by law certify, sign off, warranty, or assess value of homes. For instance, only a licensed electrician should approve or repair electrical problems. Don’t Panic Inspections will recommend specific licensed specialists when we find system deficiencies.

6. The report does not tell you what to do next. So should you buy the home given what the inspector found? That is for you to decide. The inspection report “tells it like it is.” It does not specify if a home is a “great buy” or not. The report will advise routine maintenance and possible repair solutions, but these are only recommendations. You may decide every marginal and defective item needs immediate fixing, or not.

7. We’re here for you! Don’t feel you are alone with a lot of confusing findings. It is OK not to know what a dormer is or a TPR valve. Don’t Panic Inspections offers free Report Consultations. If you are unsure, send us a message! Our website has extensive information and we can always point you to further great resources.

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