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Reviewing Your Home Inspection Report

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

A home inspection report is a detailed write-up of the visible systems and physical condition of a home. Home inspection reports come in many formats, depending on the inspector, but should include photographs and be more than a few pages long. The length will depend on the size of the home, including if a pool/spa is included in the inspection. Reports will have a section for each room or system with a summary of any issues at the end. Review and understand the inspection items below to be aware of unsafe or costly issues for a smart home purchase.

Roofing And Water Damage

Most home inspectors do not get up on the roof for an inspection, but visually inspect general age and roof quality, gutters and drainage. The interior ceilings, walls and basement foundation are also viewed to give clues to potential water problems, as are skylights, chimney and flu, and vents. Look at these areas of the report to tell if there is a potential problem with the roof or recent water damage suggesting a water leak. While not a thorough roof inspection, the report should give clues if a more specific roofing inspection is needed by a professional roofer. Floor or lower wall water damage in basement or lower level could suggest a drainage issue with the land contours.

Structure/Foundation Problems

The inspector should check the overall structure and foundation. Look for cracks or bowing of the walls, major cracks or upheavals in the foundation, or other abnormal structural shifting. These could be major problems affecting the home.


Look for water damage around an older water heater or under-cabinet pipes suggestive of a water heater or pipe leak. Read what year the water heater was installed (based on sticker on water heater) to find out if a water heater replacement is in the near future.


Especially if purchasing an older home, make sure that the main electric box is in code, all outlets are grounded, and the electric system lights work.

Heating/Cooling Systems

Depending on the season, the heating and cooling system should test ok. The cooling system can not be tested if it is already too cool outside, but the furnace can be tested in any season. These may be expensive repairs if not functioning properly. Look for the age of the system(s) too. Your comfort depends on these systems.


View the report to see if it mentions bathroom, kitchen and attic or basement ventilation issues. These areas should all have adequate fans or other venting systems to inhibit humidity which will minimize the growth of rot, mold or mildew and provide better air quality. Proper ventilation also lessens energy consumption.


A thorough check of all kitchen appliances and the garage door are important. Make sure the report tests everything and all appears to work well and is safe by current standards.


As the homebuyer pays a professional home inspector to thoroughly check out a home before purchase, it is perfectly acceptable to ask her/him questions noted after reading the home inspection report. Major damage or issues may necessitate purchase price negotiation or the homebuyer may decide to completely back out of the sale.

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