For 75% of Americans, buying a home is a big dream. And the process of shopping for that home can be exciting. But if homebuyers are not careful, they can make serious mistakes when evaluating their potential home. Most people have no idea how many things could be potentially wrong with a property. 

Most buyers do not know how to determine if a home is a good buy or not, and therefore the home inspection report is such a critical decision-making tool when buying a home. How well a buyer decodes its contents can make the difference between buying a home they will enjoy and one they will endure.

What is a home inspection?

The home inspection is a painstaking examination of a property that is conducted by a professional home inspector. The home inspector carries out a grueling assessment of all aspects of the home over three hours or more. The inspector uses a 1,000 point checklist to guide them in assessing the property

The goal of the inspection is to determine how much the home will cost the buyer in repairs. This is why a home inspection is vital. But a home inspection is just one part; the other part is the report it generates. 

Home inspectors only create the home inspection report; they cannot help the buyer make a decision. The buyer must do that by themselves. Understanding the report is essential; it helps buyers differentiate between small issues and those that could cost thousands of dollars.

Components of the home inspection report

Buyers find the home inspection report daunting because of its sheer size. A standard report can be anywhere from 15 to 75 pages, depending on the size of the home. Furthermore, the pages are filled with terms the average person does not encounter every day. Reports usually consist of the following sections:

General information about the house and the inspection

This part contains an initial section with general info about the home, the home inspector, and how the inspection was done. It will include information for interpreting each element of the report and keys to codes or symbols used in the report. Important codes to keep in mind are:

  • I (Inspected) – the item was inspected
  • NI (Not Inspected) – the item wasn’t inspected
  • NP (Not Present) – the item could not be accessed or located
  • S (Safety Concern) – this item poses a safety concern that should be addressed immediately
  • R (General Repair) – the item needs repair but does not constitute an immediate danger
  • D (Defect) – the item is not working and needs to be repaired by a licensed tradesman

A thorough assessment of all systems & components

This is the meat of the report, where details of every inch of the property will be recorded. Depending on the home inspector, the information will be reported as a narrative or in sections. Regardless of which format is used, the content will be the same. The most important areas in this section are:


  • Plumbing: all drips, leaks, and every kind of water hazards will be reported here
  • HVAC: the functioning state of heating, ventilation and AC systems will be here
  • Electrical systems: this reports faulty electrical wiring, old/exposed wiring, and all electrical components that pose a shocking/fire hazard or which might limit the home’s electrical capacity.
  • Roof and chimney: includes info on aging roof & roofing materials and all issues that are indicative of roof damage
  • Drainage: details of how roof/gutters drain, presence of pooling around the foundation or evidence of water-seepage
  • Foundation: this part reports cracks, shifting or other signs of foundation damage

Pictures of reported problems with notes

Here will be included the photos of all issues that the inspector has found, along with notes to explain them. There will also be thermal images of the interior and exterior of the property. Those will reveal any issues with moisture, ventilation, insulation, and the electrical components of the home.

What to focus on

When evaluating a home using the inspection report, it should be assessed based on the following criteria:


All reported safety issues deserve full attention. Common safety issues include faulty electrical systems, upgrades/repairs that do not have the necessary work permit, etc.


When the sum of the condition of the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are taken into consideration, the habitability of the home may be determined. 

High-cost repair items

These are broken items that could cost a lot to fix. Examples are structural damage, roof replacement, non-functioning HVAC, and mold. These items are usually big enough to break the deal or necessitate a renegotiation of the home’s sales price.

Author’s bio:

TrustHome Properties is the undisputed property management leader in Central Florida. We have a keen understanding of the local market, including experience with nuanced neighborhoods like Medical City and the regions surrounding UCF. We bring industry-wide resources and best practices to our local properties, providing investors with the most innovative property management solutions.