Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

Dated: 10/07/2019

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Watch video Here-Understanding Your Home Inspection Report

Detail Home Inspection with Caroline Gau, Baird & Warner

Caroline Gau:               Hi, I'm Caroline Gau in the Baird & Warner Glenbrook office. So you've negotiated a great deal after visiting lots of homes and you've had your home inspection. Now what? So you received this report that's 125 pages and you freak out. No worries. So I've invited George Norberg of Detail Home Inspection back to the show today. We interviewed George at one of his inspections back in the spring, which was very educational, following him around on the roof and electric panel and seeing what is involved with an actual inspection. So now I'd like to actually walk step-by-step through the home inspection report so that you understand what kinds of things are important, what kind of things are maintenance, and how we proceed for the next steps. So, George, thanks so much for coming in today. I really appreciate your help.

George Norberg:          Thank you for giving me an opportunity to walk through a report.

Caroline Gau:               Absolutely. Okay, so buyers, they've gone through the inspection and they're usually present. So we follow you around, we ask questions. So then after the inspection, within usually that same night or the next morning, the buyer is given a PDF with pictures of your report, correct?

George Norberg:          Correct.

Caroline Gau:               All right, so here we go. We're using my house from several years ago, so the first section of the report is 14 pages, and it's just photos you take outside, inside.

George Norberg:          Correct. At the beginning of the report are a series of courtesy photos so you can get a feel for the home. When we're doing an inspection, there's a lot of things going through the buyer's mind, and it's nice to have general photos to refer back to for furniture layout, for just, "Gee, what does my living room look like?"

Caroline Gau:               Got it. Okay, so this takes us to the table of contents. So table of contents just kind of shows you where in the report you're going to find all the different sections.

George Norberg:          Correct. I have a table of contents for every property I inspect, whether it's residential or commercial, to a small condo to a Mcmansion, as they're called. And I try to lay that out so it's easier to identify possible issues for the potential buyer. All right, so let's look an example. Each section has a description. So the first one we come to would be roofing, chimneys, roof structure, and attic. So what are all of these descriptions you have here?

George Norberg:          Well, in each section on the table of contents, I break apart to report to identify different specific items that are important to the potential buyer. Roofing is typically a very big concern because it's a big-ticket item if there are deficiencies involved. So I've created a template/process to identify the particular components of a home, whether it be a roof, whether it be a chimney, electrical panel, et cetera, so it's easy for a potential buyer to follow.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. So then each section... So we have roof, and then you put... What's this picture here?

George Norberg:          Well the particular picture of that is a flashing, and apparently the fastener/nail has pulled away, and I like to note that stuff because we're in a geographic climate here that potential snow and ice could back up underneath the flashing and possibly cause water intrusion.

Caroline Gau:               Got it. And I see you've got an arrow. So that's pointing to the picture...

George Norberg:          Of the deficiency.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. Then here we have a chimney. So then you've got an arrow pointing to a crack.

George Norberg:          Correct. I always like to identify the conditions of the chimney and whether it's been repaired or an active crack. Again, we're in a freeze-thaw climate. Snow, ice gets in there and makes the crack open up, and you could possibly get water intrusion.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. So then I see throughout here you've got pictures of as we follow you around the house, and then you're just highlighting things that you see. Then we get to the next section. It's the same formula that we saw on the roof, and you're giving as much detailed description as you can.

George Norberg:          Correct. I've created this template as I tried to be user friendly in what I would be looking for as a potential buyer and in the best interest of the buyer so they know what they're purchasing.

Caroline Gau:               All right, so here we come to our first red lettering. What does the red lettering indicate here on the report?

George Norberg:          Well, sometimes the different fonts or different colors indicate possible deficiencies, and the computer program sometimes picks that up, or sometimes I specifically tell it. But, in this case here, the patio happens to be higher than the foundation. And when that happens, snow, ice water has the potential of backing into the joints going over the sill plate and causing water intrusion into the basement.

Caroline Gau:               Oh, that's not good. Okay, so then we keep going. I see you're highlighting certain things. So you do outside and inside?

George Norberg:          Correct.

Caroline Gau:               Okay, so drywall at the access to the attic?

George Norberg:          Correct. What I'm trying to point out there is that's a pull-down stairs with typical plywood covering, and it's good common practice in the industry to have drywall, whether it be at the pull down or above the attic access, and with the drywall, it has a fire rating, and it's good practice to seal off the living space to the attic because if a fire were to occur, you don't want it to get into the attic space.

Caroline Gau:               Alright. Okay. Now are you quoting code as we go through these?

George Norberg:          No. I have a background in building codes. However, when we do an inspection, it's not a code inspection. I don't know when that home was built and what the code was applied at that building time. However, it does help me identify deficiencies as a home inspector.

Caroline Gau:               Got it. Okay, and then what kinds of things do you point out that might just be maintenance and a heads up to the potential home-buyer versus something that is a deficiency currently.

George Norberg:          A maintenance item could be a window not operating, a window handle missing, screens missing. What other could be a maintenance thing? A tear in carpet, settlement cracks and drywall. Those type of items that come to my mind.

Caroline Gau:               Okay, so here I'm at an electrical area where it says receptacle needs a cover, a licensed electrician to repair. So can you tell us more about that?

George Norberg:          Yes. Any time you have exposed wiring, whether it be at a receptacle, at a switch, an electrical panel, et cetera, you would want to, at a minimum, get a cover plate on there and make it safe for the occupants.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. And the one thing I wanted to ask about. With the ages of furnace, hot water heater, I know that you go through and you actually look up the serial number, and you can tell an age of an appliance.

George Norberg:          Yes. A particular appliance, one would be an air conditioner, a furnace, a water heater. I like to identify, for my potential buyer, the particular ages so they know, into the future, they may or may not need to be replacing it. And I use that to look it up on the internet with a serial number, typically.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. I was looking for 3.24. Okay, so this, "Ask the seller what the power is for."

George Norberg:          Sometimes there are different components of the home that I'm unable to identify. And in this case, what I was identifying, there was an extension-cord wiring. I don't recall off the top of my brain, but it might've went through the wall, maybe feeding up into an attic space or a different area. And any time you see extension-cord wiring, you need to at least identify it so we can find out what the purpose is.

Caroline Gau:               Right. So sometimes we'll see on a home inspection that it's not necessarily something that's wrong, but it's maybe something you want to ask the homeowner about because they've lived there for 10 years, they know more about it, and it's just an inquiry.

George Norberg:          Correct. And I would call an inquiry/maintenance item just to get clarification so the potential buyer has an answer.

Caroline Gau:               Mm-hmm (affirmative). And then as we go through, too, and they ask questions, do you kind of tell them, "Okay, well, this is fine for now, but maybe in five years you would want to do some maintenance."

George Norberg:          Yeah. What I like to do is as I finish different areas of the home, the exterior, the attic space, the second floor, et cetera, I like to try to recap with my client of what I'm finding and explain different deficiencies or possible deficiencies of the structure.

Caroline Gau:               Got it. Okay, so as we scroll through all the different sections, we see more pictures. You take pictures of anything that's wrong or anything that you have questions about. And again, it's a document that people can refer back to. The buyer pays for the report, the buyer owns the report, so the buyer has to give permission to share the report, whether it's to the attorney, to the agent, to the homeowner.

George Norberg:          Correct. Yes.

Caroline Gau:               Right. So that's why we're using my report today so that George doesn't get in trouble for sharing.

George Norberg:          Well, just, you don't want the report to get in someone else's hands that's not authorized to view it. And they pay for it, so it's their choice who they share that with.

Caroline Gau:               Got it. So now I'm scrolling through looking for the summary. Can you talk about why there are duplicates when you've got pictures in the early part of the report and then you scroll down to the summary and it looks like there's duplicates. Why is that?

George Norberg:          Well, in the beginning it's detailed areas of the home, rooms, et cetera, and I create a summary of each trade, general summary, electrical, plumbing, heating, and a maintenance summary. Sometimes things are moving quite rapidly with the transaction and people want to get to the crux of the matter, what's really wrong with the home. So I try to create the summary of, I would say, items that are important to negotiate or maintenance issues so everybody's informed, and sometimes the reports can be long. However, I'm trying to be very detailed so the potential buyer knows what they're buying.

Caroline Gau:               Sure. And then whose responsibility is it to talk to the potential seller about any issues that you find? You? Agent?

George Norberg:          I'm not aware of any items that I have to talk to the seller about. I've been involved with inspections, whether it's life-safety issues, and if the listing agents there, I try to explain to he or she to pass on my message. But there are occasions where there are life-safety issues that you do want to convey your concern as an inspector to the sellers so they know to get it corrected.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. So that's if there's an emergency. But other than that, you aren't talking directly to the homeowner?

George Norberg:          Typically, no. I do not communicate with the homeowner. Have I? Yes. Something that comes to my mind would be a life-safety issue, a bad flue on a furnace. I've had that happen before where the flue pipe is disbursing carbon monoxide in a crawl space or in an attic, so I try to convey that so they can get it corrected.

Caroline Gau:               Okay. So then what's your counsel after you give the buyer their report? How do you leave it with them?

George Norberg:        

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Caroline Gau

Caroline Gau 

Caroline Gau is a residential real estate expert with 17 years of experience in the Chicagosuburbs. She is an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP®) and a Certifi....

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