Confusion on deficiencies definitions

Complete noob doing the Mock inspections here. This is very confusing for me. I took and aced the ICA course and exam. I’m stumped on the material and major deficiencies definitions to some degree. Wouldn’t a major deficiency as described in the glossary be pretty much the same as a material deficiency? Material says ‘unreasonable risk’, major says ‘unsafe’. In both the component are not working and need a contractor, so isn’t that going to impact the value of the house whether it’s one of the other term?
Then there is the minor deficiency. It’s minor, but the component is non-working? How is that minor? Just because the homeowner may fix it themselves? An example is bathtub water tap that leaks when the shower is engaged. It needs to be fixed, but it doesn’t make the shower inoperable.
I’m really stumped here! Any input from you experienced guys would be very helpful.
Also, I submitted my first mock inspection of (my) home on the 5/24/21. I haven’t heard anything, but my report has red, pink and green colors in the upper R/H corners. Is THIS the grading? How do I know what these colors represent?

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See if this helps you here;

  • material defect: A specific issue with a system or component of a property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. The fact that a system or component is near, at or beyond the end of its normal useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
  • major defect: A condition of a system or component that renders it non-working, non-performing, non-functioning or unsafe, and requires a professional contractor to further evaluate and repair, correct or replace.
  • minor defect: A condition of a system or component that renders it non-working, non-performing, or non-functioning, and may be repaired, corrected or replaced by a professional contractor or the homeowner.
  • cosmetic defect: A superficial flaw or blemish in the appearance of a system or component that does not interfere with its safety or functionality.
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OK, I’ll bite. Why do you want to identify defects as ‘major’ or ‘minor?’ Every client is going to have their own definition of what is major and what is minor. On top of that is the Realtor or agent who will try to dismiss as much as possible to make the sale. Just identify the defects and let the chips fall where they may. If there are questions I’m always available to answer them. Few call’


Thank you for your responses. Marcel, I downloaded and printed the definitions in the SOP, they largely seem to imply the same thing. Material issues may have an 'adverse impact on property value and cause an unreasonable risk to people. But doesn’t the Major issue more or less say the same thing? If a system or component (such as a roof, foundation) are non-working, non-functioning wouldn’t that more or less implicitly impact the value of the property? Additionally “unreasonable risk” an “unsafe” are pretty much the same condition. This is where confusion lies for me. This quote is taken from the first paragraph in the article you linked (thank you) “Material defects are major defects.” Therein lies the rub.
It seems to me the one difference between a major and minor defect is that the homeowner could possibly repair a minor issue, whereas a major issue would require a contractor. The thing that stymies me is if a component is NOT working, how can that be minor? If a kitchen faucet leaks a little at the nozzle when I turn it on that’s seems to be a defect, but it hasn’t made the faucet inoperable.
I appreciate everyone’s feedback. I’m just trying to get a handle on the terms so I can do my last 3 inspections. Thank-you.

Ps. Does anyone know what the different colored marks mean on the inspection report? I’m assuming red is wrong, pink is partially incorrect and green is correct. But there is no key that I can find to define what these marks mean. Also, how long does it generally take to get the e-mail response after you submit an inspection? I submitted mine a week ago (of course we had the 3 day weekend).
Any help or tips would be much appreciated.

Bob, so I’d just declare the defect and not try to label it as either a major or minor defect? That seems like a sensible idea, but will InterNACHI let me do that on these mock inspections??
Thanks for your response.

Marcel. So if the faucet is minor deficiency (and I agree) how do I reconcile that label with the ‘inoperable’ part of the definition?
Thanks for your response.

That’s how I do it. I identify safety issues in my narratives


I agree with Bob.

Report what you see and refer it out, if need be. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


[quote=“bcawhern1, post:7, topic:198773, full:true”]

I agree with Bob’s statement also.

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Not sure about your question regarding the mock inspections. I remember when I turned mine in several years I never heard anything back from them, though I know things have changed some since then, maybe anyway.

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Brian’s spot on with the safety items. Safety is its own special category. The simple reason is that most people are not to good with safety issues. It hasn’t happened to them YET!. Some good examples are basement egress windows, guardrails in general and baluster spacing. Most people just don’t think along those lines. So you must point them in the right direction with safety.

In fact a good euphemism for codes (which will start an argument every time) is “modern safety standards.” Everyone will readily comply with modern safety standards and the Agent can’t argue with it or dismiss it.


Another issue with trying to categorize defects.

If your sued, and you incorrectly define something as major, minor or cosmetic… It will be an opening for them.

I do not report on any cosmetic issues. And that term is incorrectly used often. I’ve seen this a hundred times “concrete had some cracks. These are minor cosmetic issues”

So, if they are cosmetic, why report? Or the cracks get pushed into the maintenance category. IMO, if an action is needed to repair it to prevent further damage why box yourself in? Just recommend they fix it.


Brian has the way to go, IMHO. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Major, minor, cosmetic or material. Those are words I never use.


I prefer: Significant, Minimal, Visual, or Safety.


Smart. It conveys a level of concern that is subjective.


Deficient: not enough specified/specified quality.

Water flow.
A: Deficient water flow. Faucets.
B: Adverse water flow. Faucets.
C; Defective shut off valve. Not operational. Broken handle.

A: Deficient bathroom ceiling fan to provide adequate bathroom circulation.
B: Adverse bathroom ceiling circulation. Noisy fan.
C: Defective bathroom ceiling fan. Not operational.


Bingo. I always attempt to use words that my clients understand and relate to. One of the questions I always ask my clients is, what is their experience and involvement with home ownership, and inquire if I need to “dumb down” (no insult intended, they get it) my report for their understanding. Most appreciate my consideration, and rarely ever get a call back due to not understanding something I wrote.


Thanks for your input!

Oh, I like that much better. I think those terms would be more helpful for the prospective buyer!