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Understanding the Home Inspection Report

Right At Home Daily: Take It And Run: Understanding the Home Inspection Report
By Samuel J. Tamkin

You've made an offer for a home and included a professional home inspection rider. Hiring a good inspector is tough enough. But figuring out what the inspection report means can be more challenging.

Understanding the Home Inspection ReportMost inspectors either carry a stack of pre-printed forms that they use to complete during their home inspections, or a handheld computer device that they connect to a mobile printer and use to print out your home's inspection report.

The report is typically divided into sections. The first section details the services that the inspector will provide, and a statement limiting the liability of the inspector to the fee paid should he or she miss something during the inspection.

The report may have a section giving general information and tips to the home buyer as to the proper maintenance of the home. The balance of the report will consist of a room-by-room evaluation of the home, including electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, structural, landscaping, and general maintenance issues.

To make the most of your home inspection, plan to be there during the one- to two-hour inspection. You can listen to the inspector (and take notes!) as he or she makes comments about the home and ask about any problems.

By following the inspector, you can discover where the water shut-off valves, circuit breaker box, and furnace filter are, as well as where the emergency switches are for some of the appliances. Since many home inspectors have some knowledge as to the costs involved in maintaining and repairing a home, they can be helpful in giving you a ballpark idea of what costs you'll face as the home's new owner.

The summary section at the end of the report contains handwritten comments about the major problems the inspector wants the home buyer to notice.

The best reports have detailed written commentary to help the home buyer understand the scope of any problems or defects in the home. Read the report while the home inspector is there and then be prepared to ask about anything you don't understand.

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