May Day May Day!!!! The inspection report is back and it lists dozens and dozens of "defects", what can I do!! Receiving the inspection report can feel like a personal affront. My NC Homes has talked hundreds of buyers and sellers off a ledge and helped them understand what the inspection reports are saying and their implications. Below we dive into what they include and do not include and when panic, is warranted. Remember, homeowners who are considering selling in the future can reach out to My NC Homes for a referral for inspection companies prior to listing.

What is a home inspection report?

A home inspection report is supposed to be an objective document provided after an evaluation by a qualified home inspector. It should include information about the current condition of the home relating to major systems. It should not include recommendations on how repairs should be made nor quotes for home repairs or replacements. It may include ballpark estimates based on national pricing averages though these are of limited use as there is no "National Real Estate Market". Real Estate is local and this applies to pricing, building codes, and standards of practice as well. It is important to note prior to the inspection that it is the duty of a good inspector to list everything they find wrong with the house, whether significant or insignificant. While it is unpleasant to get a list of what is wrong, it is much better to be on the safe side. Good inspectors take multiple photos and include them for reference, but as you go through the report, do not get lost in the myriad small issues or minimize the large. Having reviewed literally thousands of home inspection reports over many years, we can tell you that while it's not uncommon for there to be dozens or even 100+ listed "defects" listed, it is uncommon for there to be more than 2 or 3 really serious issues, and the rest are minor and/or routine maintenance issues. We also know that many inspectors feel that their job is to impress upon the buyer who hired them that their money was well spent and so they frequently make minor issues sound much worse than they actually are.

What is in an inspection report?

So what is in an inspection report and how should you read it? First, you will have a list of general information covering basic details about the house including square footage and construction date. Then you will be provided a table of contents and a general summary that includes major issues with the house, followed by details about the major home systems, their components, and operability. Defects will be noted and often come with recommendations on how to rectify them, which could mean things need to be addressed tomorrow, or in a few years.

What are the Major Systems included in the Inspection?

  • Structural components: foundation and frame of the home

  • Home Exterior including siding, porches, balconies, walkways, and driveways

  • All features that make up a roof, including skylights

  • Home plumbing system

  • Home electric and wiring

  • Heating and Cooling System

Lastly, inspectors will look at everything visible so walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, cabinets, stairs and railings, attic, crawl spaces, and anything else that can be seen. Often the notes will include safety concerns, if there are any, that may not have anything to do with disrepair.

What is NOT in an inspection report?

What is not included in an inspection report is the condition of the inside of walls, the health of the septic system or well,  specific information regarding fungal growth/mold, information about wood-destroying insects, and things that are not visible. One example of a grey area in an inspection would be mold. There can be a small amount of evidence of mold on the outside of a wall, but an inspector must make a recommendation for an expert for mold remediation to investigate further as they are not licensed or qualified to comment other than in a general manner about this. An inspection is not foolproof and in some cases, it requires another expert to determine if you have a major issue. Discuss getting a second opinion if an inspector recommends it with your Realtor and how best to proceed.

When to worry

So what are the major issues that you should worry about in an inspection? They unsurprisingly relate to the major systems of a home, foundation, roof, HVAC, electric, and plumbing. These issues can render a home unlivable and also are considerably more expensive than cosmetic issues to fix. It's important to bear in mind that we live in litigious times, and inspectors are advised to use language in their reports that attempts to limit their exposure. Common examples are calling for a "licensed contractor to evaluate and make all necessary repairs." While this may sound perfectly reasonable, outside of a general contractor's license there are only three construction licenses: Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. There is no such thing as a licensed siding contractor, roofer, window contractor, foundation, or deck contractor. Realtors should know this, but experience has shown us time and again that the majority do not.

If you have recommendations to get more information or have further evaluation by an expert, it's probably a good idea to do so. One of the reasons we have inspections within 7-14 days of signing a contract is to ensure buyers that they are purchasing a home that is in a safe condition. Conversely, as a seller when you get the inspection, keep in mind that here in NC, you are under no obligation to address any issues our contracts are "AS-IS" however the buyer is entitled to terminate the contract within the stated "Diligence Period" and the underlying issues must be disclosed once you've been made aware of them. We advise being reasonable, if there is a significant issue work it out with the buyer. This is the point in time when having a reputable realtor with decades of experience under their belt is essential.

My NC Homes has witnessed countless hundreds of inspections. They are one of the tensest portions of a real estate transaction on both the buyer and seller side, but they don't have to be. From hand holding to price negotiations, we can alleviate panic and prepare you for the next steps after an inspection. We have decades of experience and are here to help. Contact us if you are looking to buy or sell in The Triangle Area!

My NC Homes

1011 S. Hamilton Rd. Suite 300 Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Phone: 919-451-7868

Posted by Larry Tollen on


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