Al and Cal Homes and Community: Deciphering Your Home Inspection Report

Deciphering Your Home Inspection Report

Deciphering Your Home Inspection Report

Gone are the days are the days when I would hear a home inspector shout....  My God!".....and as I would be picking the buyers up off the floor, I would hear, "Great plumbing job!".

Also gone, thankfully, are the days of a home inspection without a written report, something a buyer could hang his hat on.  home inspection report, deciphering your home inspection

We all know and agree that the home inspection is a very important part of the home buying process.   In fact,  I emphatically suggest that  every one hire a professional inspector to check out their home prior to purchase.   Please read All About Your Home Inspection.

Over the years and with the progression of technology and I'm sure a ton of law suits the home inspection has changed. 

I appreciate the difficult job a home inspector has.  But, in an effort to inform a buyer of all deficiencies, armed with computer and camera, some home inspectors have become more robotic in their inspection and their reporting of it.  The home inspection has become so matter of fact that it is difficult to determine what is really important.  

In the old days a home inspector would point out the "defects" but in general at the end of the inspection would offer their opinion as to whether they thought the home was a good solid home or it wasn't.       Today's inspection report just points out the deficiencies and offers no opinion at all!     Is that really the help that the buyer needs?   

A typical inspection report will give the same weight to a broken door bell as a rusted electrical panel.  

Read, (Defective, replace).

That does one of two things.   

  •   Waters down the major items.  
  •   Makes the number of defects appear so large that it becomes overwhelming.

Couple that with a buyer that is not knowledgeable about home systems and it doesn't help them out at all.   Does this sound foolish?   I don't thing so, look at it this way.    It would be kind of like me going to the auto mechanic and having him tell me every little thing that is wrong with the car.  Without getting an actual opinion as to what's a big deal and what isn't, I would be freaked when I might not need be!

Don't get me wrong, I get why things have changed.   It is not the home inspectors fault.   It's kind of like the medical field.   No more Dr. Welby's.   It's just the way it is.   

So What's A Buyer To Do? 

  • Hire a competent inspector.   Ask for referrals.   Do they have certifications?   References?   Don't just hire based on money!
  • Attend the inspection.    Not just attend, but follow the guy around.  See what he/she is seeing.
  • Ask questions.   When they point out a defect, ask how important it is or how difficult or expensive to fix.   Ask.  Is it a safety issue? 
  • Don't be intimidated.   If you knew this stuff you would be a builder.  Forget about the brokers or anyone else present.  This is about you.  
  • Don't be distracted.   Same thing.  There will be agents there, maybe other inspectors, etc.   Don't let them distract you.  Follow the guy.  Make sure you can hear him. 
  • Insist on getting the report ASAP.   Most inspectors will get the report to you right away.  Many times the reports read differently than what was discussed at the inspection.    Do not let days go by without getting that report.
  • Ask for an opinion.   At the end of the inspection ask the inspector what is really important.
  • Use common sense.    A clogged drain might read consult a licensed plumber.   Could it simply be a typical hair clog that requires cleaning?
  • Can't make sense of the report?   Call the inspector back.  Good inspectors want you too!
  •  Remember why you are here.  You wouldn't have gotten this far if you didn't really want this house.   Be ready to face the fact that no home is perfect.

The home inspector's job is to find all deficiencies in the home.    Do not let the list freak you out.    Attend the inspection and ask questions and don't be afraid to ask for an opinion.  

A Great Home Inspection should leave you feeling secure about your purchase! 

  But, You have to find that home first!   So, Call me!    508-494-9061    or email




About the author

Carol-Ann Palmieri, 

is a full time Real Estate professional in Massachusetts for the past 25 years along with her partner Al Mussi have helped literally hundreds of families find, sell or purchase new places to live.

 A former US Marine, she grew up in Walpole, MA...  is committed to the serving the community through various volunteer opportunities.   She attended MA Bay Community and Suffolk University and is committed to constantly updating her Real Estate education.

 Licensed in MA and RI...

 Al and Cal's primary areas of service Franklin, Bellingham, Medway, Millis, Medfield, Norfolk, Wrentham, Plainville, Blackstone, Walpole, Milford, Holliston, Hopkinton, Mansfield, and Foxboro, North Attleboro, Norwood, Hopedale, Mendon, Millville but have resourses to help anyone, anywhere....
Her mission....  To exceed your expectations!


Carol-Ann Palmieri

Al and Cal Realty Group

Remax Executive Realty




Comment balloon 27 commentsCarol-Ann Palmieri • March 01 2013 05:24AM


Hi Carol,

I have been saying what's in your post for years and years.

I do give advice for the buyers and what's in the report. I do list all issues as I see them. Most are things that can be easily repaired but still are there at the time of the inspection. But I still get the calls from listing agents that want to tear apart the reports and say I need to change my wording.

Things like "Don't use RED when making a comment like, THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE".

When there is not a single smoke detector in the home I'm sorry but this is a "safety issue".

Have a great day and a very good post. Suggested.

Best, Clint McKie


Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

Hi Clint.   Thank you.  Like everything else in life we have become afraid to speak our opinion.   Buyers need to see the red safety issue and not have it watered down by the small stuff.   I wish you were here.   :)

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Good morning, Carol Ann....this is a very post and I also suggested it.... I think buyers in our market are so happy to find a home, with our shortage of inventory, many of the issues are accepted by the buyer....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 7 years ago

Terrific post Cal, the home inspection has become a very important part of the buying process and many folks need to be made aware of how it works.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) over 7 years ago

Carol Ann: Buying a home is typically the single most expensive purchase our clients will ever make.  They should treat it as such and not only obtain an inspection from a licensed professional but should engage in the process to make sure they understand everything that is highlighted or mentioned in the report.

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055) over 7 years ago

Carol Ann, ususally the home inspectors jump all over me when i do something about home inspections so be prepared!  Some do not know how to communicate well with the buyer at all and just frighten them...great information share here.

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Good morning, very good tips to the buyers on how to be pro-active and get the most out of their inspections. Buyers need to take this seriously and hire a good inspector that they can have open communication and understanding of the inspection process. 

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 over 7 years ago

Carol Ann....I like that last home is perfect!  Try to separate the big items from the little items!  Good inspectors also give lots of ongoing maintenance tips for new homeowners. I remind buyers not to confuse tips for them for maintenance going forward with things that need repair now.

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - over 7 years ago

Thanks for the post on Inspection Reports. They are often difficult to read and any help is appreciated.


Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) over 7 years ago

Great post, Carol Ann.  I agree about the follow-up.  I try to write my report as clearly as possible, but if my client isn't clear about something, I want them to call me and ask!  

Posted by Tom Jansson, Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified (Acuity Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Hi Barbara.  You can say that again about the limited inventory!    Thank you!


Hi Al.   We remember too well those buyer beware days and are very happy that they are gone!   Thank you!


Hi Anita.   I strongly suggest to my peeps that they follow the inspector around like a puppy.   Thanks!


Hi Ginny.  As I hit publish, I thought that was going to happen!    Thank you!


Ai Adrian.   Thank you.   It's a big deal and they need to be involved.  IMHO. 

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Hi Christine.    I enjoy those hearing those tips myself.  Thanks for weighing in.  


Hi Betty.    Thank you.   Hearing the explanation while going around the house helps too.  


Hi Tom.    That communication is what separates the men from the boys.    Clearly you are one of the men!   Thanks.

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 7 years ago

Carol,  As you stated, " a ton of law suits"  I think they have changed many Realtors, Inspectors, any many others involved in this field when it comes to recommendations and opinions.  We still give them in most instances but the climate has changed severely.  " In my opinion" sounds a little like looking into a crystal ball,  and attorneys want us to steer clear of that type of language.  We then should make ourselves available, to the clients you may have referred to us and communicate as clear as and for as long as we are needed.

Posted by Vince Chinell, CPI (VICO Home Inspection) over 7 years ago

I guess we can't blame them for being afraid of poor consequences. Sign of the times. I know a great inspector who will not give the buyers a price range to fix something that is wrong with the house and buyers are hungry for that information.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) over 7 years ago

Things like this are the reason I will only work with one or two inspectors in my area.  I've had the opportunity to compare inpections on the same house from different inspectors.  It becomes blatantly obvious who knows what they're doing and who doesn't.

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 7 years ago

Cal, I thought this was a good blog and then I found it was featured and Congrats on that. Excellent points by you about the inspection process. I always tell home buyers to attend and ask questions at the end of the inspection. Actually I say show up when the inspector is almost through as an agent and buyer can get in the way. Always ask lots of questions if you dop not understand something.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 7 years ago
Carol-You make excellent points. I like Buyers to attend the inspection. The report is nice for negotiating and providing documentation but hearing directly from the qualified Inspector is priceless.
Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 7 years ago

Such terrific advice Carol Ann.  Having a really good inspector that is willing to explain everything is so important.  

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 7 years ago

Good Post Carol Ann. I'm dealing with a buyer that wants to use the inspection report for a re-negotiation of the contract believing the inspector offered the ammunition to do just that. That's when we earn our pay getting the clients to really understand what they are buying and what they can expect to need to address down the road.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 7 years ago

Great job, I am going to suggest!  I love the on line reports with photos that the inspectors do, no room for questions, all right there in living color!

Posted by Christine O'Shea (Christine E O'Shea Broker) over 7 years ago

Over twenty years ago I encountered a friend who I know to be a long-haul truck driver. He told me that he was embarking on a new career. He was now a home inspector. That was a job I had never heard of at the time. He needed no qualifications, apparently, except that he was a handyman of sorts…and willing to crawl under houses.


Fast forward to today…


Home inspectors perform a very valuable service in helping home buyers to attempt to understand the condition of the building for which the buyers are about to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to acquire. We recommend that our clients use inspectors who are certified within their trade organization, well trained and experienced. We know people who fit that description even if our clients do not and we are happy to recommend them to our clients.

Posted by John Juarez, ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN (The Medford Real Estate Team) over 7 years ago

With median home prices creeping up to the half million dollar mark, I think all homebuyers should invest in a home inspection and a home warranty.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (RE/MAX Executives) over 7 years ago

Carol Ann, Great post.


A good home inspector is in the information business. And like you state it can be  difficult to always quantify issues in a specifically meaningful manner. I use a summary at the end of the report to help weight concerns. 

I usually have 10 to 20 items in the summary that need attention sooner versus later. These will be safety issues and major structural/mechanical issues. 

The rest of the report is a detail  and function of the home and a very glorified honey do list. 


Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Vince.   Yes, I am afraid the number of law suits has changed how we all approach things in life.   Thanks for weighing in.  


Hi Jill.   Yes, knowing a price range to fix things would be great, but I think the inspectors are prevented from doing such.   Thank you!


Hi Marc.   I would say that's funny, but it is not!


Hi Bob.   Thanks again.    I find the buyers can become intimated when too many people are there.   Especially the sellers agent.   


Hi Wayne.  I agree.  Also sometimes the written word reads differently than the spoken.  



Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 7 years ago


I hope all is well with you folks and you are having a good weekend. gosh you have had two Featured blogs in a row. Excellent job Miss Cal.

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 7 years ago

Hey Cal gal, missed this one the first time around. Inspectors can indeed "make or break" our deals. There is one company in town that assumes the job is to find as many "tiny things" as possible to note. It's ridiculous - not sure why other agents use them. IMHO, they do all of us a disservice.

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 7 years ago

Cal, a great house-side manner is important, but I think the written report is the most important bit of information that the buyers get.  I also think it's important for the buyers' agent to be there and to pay attention to what's going on. 

I use Jay Marchanich whenever I can, and his inspections are an amazing educational process, as are his reports.  Um, sorta like his blog.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago