Ignorant new student

Hi guys…I am new to this. Passed my internachi test before I started taking the courses, but I am now working my way thru them. A lot to learn for a do it yurselfer like me. Just trying to find out when doing an inspection on home, I realize that whatever i see wrong I need to call out. Does an inspector put any type of a degree of problem, ie ungrounded outlet just requiring further insp by prof, or cut joist rafter for whatever reason, to be insp by prof. Are there software programs which allow you to categorize the call outs as far as minor or major, is it a judgement call by each inspector when they do their reports. Does the judgement come from experience in the field or just common sense. i am just trying to find out if there are various categories of concern for specific items. obviously I realize if you put to many things as a major concern you wont be in business very long, however I feel safety is of utmost concern

Never concern yourself with what others who might refer you say when you are being thorough and performing your job well. That is one ticket to quickly losing sight of your purpose which is to inform consumers.

Having said that, and especially as a new person to inspecting, you do need to be very careful about assigning a degree of significance to any issue you find. Until you have experienced enough you run the risk of under emphasizing or over emphasizing the degree of significance for an issue. Both of those cases can not only be of disservice to your clients but is another one way ticket to problems for you in various ways.

Deciding the significance of an issue found comes from a combination of knowledge and experience. Knowledge not only of the component in question but also how it can affect other components around it or the home as a whole. Experience comes into play by seeing the issue and how it has advanced or not advanced to cause other problems.

Can’t tell you about reporting software capabilities as I don’t use them. However I can tell you not to rely on any reporting software to prioritize or label the significance of any issues found if the software even has an automatic function to do so. Your clients will not care that your call, if it is a bad one, was the fault of your software since you should be in control of that software in the first place.

Some Inspectors do offer ways to mark the degree of significance of an issue in a direct method such as color coding comments, assigning numerical ranges, or even using specific individual words such as minor, major, significant, etc. Other Inspectors using narrative reports have instead properly worded the issue description to help emphasize the degree of significance for the problem. These are choices you will need to make based on your own preferences on how it should be done. Also if you choose to do this then you must be consistent and complete in prioritizing the issues. I have seen reports where the Inspector failed to mark a significant item as significant using their priority system. That can most definitely lead to significant issues for you!

Well said by Manny, and here is my usual direct reply…
Do you now, or do you ever, intend to be a Professional inspector? Your clients hire you to be the professional. Are you not sure of the defects that you discover? You do not necessarily need to describe the degree of defect, and NEVER a prescription for repair, but you do need to actually know what and why it is a defect. Until then, you should not even consider taking any $$$ until you can!

Read some sample reports off inspector web sights for insights as to how defects are described and reported.

If you can find anyone who is a Mike Crow fan make sure to find their sample reports because they are just amazing.


To hit on those two items that Jeff highlighted in red. If an outlet (assuming 3 prong) doesn’t have a ground, do you need an electrician to verify it? How about recommending repair by an electrician. For the cut joist, you already know it’s not right. Do you need someone to confirm your finding? Just recommend repair by a licensed professional (This may be a roofer, contractor, or structural engineer).

In other words, most of the time, you have found a defect, and already know it isn’t right. Do you really want you clients to hear: Well, it looks like this outlet doesn’t have a ground, but even though you paid me to do the inspection, you should pay an electrician to come here and make sure I’m correct.

Or would your clients rather hear: So, this outlet isn’t grounded, an electrician would be the person to call to repair it.

There are times where further evaluation is necessary. For example, I’m not licensed to inspect for termites. But I see termite tubes all the time. In those cases, I will tell my clients that they really need to get a licensed termite inspector to come out and inspect the house.

Keep studying and see if you can get some ride-alongs with another inspector (outside of your projected service area would be easier).


Click “control panel” above and fill out your “profile”, it helps others to better answer questions if we know what region your from.

I don’t rate defects, I only report them and let my client decide what’s important to them.

Now if I find a defect that can cause death or serious injury I do put emphasis on that issue in the report and on occasion have contacted the LA to inform them of the issue. For example, I found this WH vent pipe yesterday, this is a defect that I place emphasis on - see picture.

Here is my sample report to give you an idea of how I inspect & report. http://www.thehome-inspection.com/images/Samplereport.PDF

And as far as putting too many things that are defects in a report, it is what it is.

Thanks guys for all the great input. it really helped!

Ha ha ha. :lol: :evil:

Hey, I see that you are close, would you like to roll with me on my next available inspection. i could give you some tips

That would be great Rick, I would really appreciate it. My number is 610-570-9550, email is lscharl@verizon.net.

You can basically set up the report anyway you like if you are using a good software program. I use Home Gauge.

As others have stated look at samples from other inspectors.

I usually advised a qualified professional when the system is in disarray.

I often use the phrase someone qualified to do the work.
The offer to ride with another inspector is excellent.

One of the more difficult but important aspects of this profession is being able to relay the information to all involved parties in a timely and professional manner. Do not be an alarmist, or report erroneously.

I have looked at other inspectors reports and one was calling out small cracks in refractory panels for prefabricated fireplaces as a major defect and safety concern.

Having the right software, knowing what is and is not a defect and developing people skills are key components to be successful in the biz.


Define “small”.

Ok, I will let you know when I can take you, it will probably be short notice.

Ok Thanks


Thanks for your reply.

I posted that mainly to offer the OP a “real life” case of where the scenario could get one in trouble if the inspector doesn’t understand the ‘potential’ defect. One should not rely on their ‘software’ to get them through a report.

(Not picking on anyone, just trying to give a dose of reality to the questions).

This are some good points. One thing that has helped me and the guys I train is that big question “Why?” when you see something that does not look right…ask yourself why? If you take 30 seconds to step back and think about it, many times you will figure it out for yourself rather come to this message board and show us a picture of a fuse and ask…what is this, or, take note of it and continue with inspection and many times the answer will turn up later. Try not to recommend everything to be evaluated. i.e. a double tap, do not recommend evaluation, recommend a repair and state why a repair is needed. You are getting paid to evaluate…do it.
We follow these guidelines.

  1. Identify the defect.
  2. State why it is a defect ( could be a safety issue, could be something is leaking, etc.)
  3. Make a recommendation ( could be a repair is needed, might need evaluation, might need replacement)
  4. Limitation…this is a big one, I see many guys get in trouble in this area. They will post something on here like, " I did an inspection and the buyer says I missed the big wet spot under the window " The inspector tries to justify it by saying the house was furnished and packed with stuff at the of inspection and could not see all areas. One of the first questions that the seasoned inspectors ask is did you note the fact the home was furnished in the report, do you have photos that show there was no way for you to see this area at the time of inspection. Another example is the guys who inspect in the north, I bet when there is 2 feet of snow on the roof they note that in the report so in the spring when the snow melts and the buyer calls up and says " Hey! I a have 3 shingles missing, you missed it!" They can show that there would have been no way to see it at the time of inspection.
    I will give you an example.
    You find that under a sink there is a flex drain, but the sink cabinet is packed with junk.
    You might report something like this,
    " Flex drain observed under master bath sink. This type of drain is known for frequent clogging and recommend proper type of drain be installed by a qualified licensed plumber. Note: Not all areas of sink were visible at the time of inspection."
    Then insert a photo of drain that shows some of the junk under cabinet. You do not need the drain to be evaluated, you need it to be corrected.