report should be treated as a punch list

[FONT=Times New Roman]Oklahoma City home inspector says reportshould be treated as a punch list[/FONT]

by Richard Mize]( October 7, 2017 5:00 AM CDT [FONT=“Arial”]Updated:October 7, 2017 5:00 AM CDT [/FONT]
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Step on a home inspector’s toes, andhe’ll holler.
Awhile back, this remark from a Realtorran in this space:
“Has anyone covered a ‘homeinspector beware’ type issue? As in, the home inspectors that seem to pridethemselves on finding meaningless ‘problems,’ and can effectively ruin a dealby scaring buyers?”
And I responded: "This could getinteresting. I’d think a buyer should want a ‘deal breaker’ — but shouldn’ttreat an inspector’s report like a punch list. But no one should put up with aneedless ‘buyer scarer.’ "
And Jack Werner, owners of A to ZInspections, whom I admire and respect, wrote in, starting an email exchangeworth sharing because it airs out the issues.
Jack: (Regarding) saying we shouldn’t treat aninspection report like a punch list or we should not scare the buyer.
First, in my opinion, if the report iswritten and explained correctly, the inspection report should be treated as apunch list. Here is why.
Home inspection standards of practiceinstruct us to identify and report items that are not safe such as animproperly vented flue or hot-to-the-touch light switch, items that are brokensuch as a glass panel or a window lock, and items that are not working asintended.
I always think of the AC unit we checkedin Bethany that worked very well except it sounded like an airplane propellerhitting a metal building. It was not working as intended. The real estate agentsaid we did not have the ‘right’ to write that up because the AC was working.
In my opinion, the buyer expects andrequires that the home being purchased is delivered to them in safe condition,with broken items repaired, and with components working as they are supposed towork.
Do we list other items? Yes, under"FYI," such as "Mrs. Buyer, you should install a full gutter system."That is identified and explained as for the buyer’s information, and it is notconsidered a responsibility of the seller.
We have no authority to require thatthings be corrected or fixed, but we do have an obligation to identify thingsthat are not safe, are broken, or are not working as intended.
Professional, ethical real estate agentswant their buyers to get the most thorough inspection possible. There willalways be a percent in every profession who hope to get by with the leastcommitment possible, and those people will always rail loudly against thosedemanding professionalism.
Me: A punch list is a list of fixes that are required tobe made. Are you saying that an inspection report should be used by a buyer todemand that repairs be made? I — and most people I have ever heard of — see itas more of a tool for negotiating concessions on price.
Jack: It depends on the individual and the price and thenegotiation.
If I am buying a home to live in andhave my family live in, it seems appropriate to ask that everything bedelivered in a safe condition, working like it is supposed to work, and notbroken.
Of course, everything is negotiable. Inmy opinion, a buyer has a right to expect and ask for those three things. Eventhose definitions will be debatable. Is old, cracked/partially missing caulkingstrictly cosmetic? I would say that it is not working as intended.
Me: Of course it depends! It always depends. That’s whysweeping general declarations are almost always off.
I like a deal breaker. What a buyer doeswith the information an inspector provides is up to the buyer; (I don’t thinkinspectors should) push buyers into unnecessary confrontations with sellers,who also may do what they wish with the information.
Jack: Inspectors have no authority. We are hired toidentify, according to our Standards of Practice, things that are not safe,things that are not working as intended, and things that are broken. To me, apunch list means that, yes, I think they should be addressed.
Of course it is open to negotiation. Itis my opinion that a buyer would be prudent to know these things AND to addressthem before moving in; whether it is through a price negotiation, or asking theseller to fix these things, or deciding to fix them him or herself. Things shouldwork like they are supposed to work. Things that are broken should be fixed andeverything should be safe.
I absolutely agree that what a buyerdoes is between them and their agent and the seller. We carefully explain thatwe have no authority and that negotiations are up to them. We explain whatitems that we are inspecting for and why we think it is important that they beaddressed. It does seem reasonable to me to ask for those three things but thatis always up to the buyer, the seller, and their agents.
There the email exchange ended.
I just have to add, on behalf of peoplewho are barely homeowners in the first place, who barely have any equity,barely have any credit, who are barely keeping it all together after a lost jobor other financial trouble:
Not everybody who is trying to sell ahouse can afford to sell it move-in ready. That’s what “as is” means.If that’s you, don’t let the models and actors in advertising and marketing getyou down.Youmight also be interested in…


Realestate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman’s

To me the term “punch list” implies an obligation to repair. Its predominant use is in the construction and home improvement industry, being that list of things the GE must accomplish before the job is deemed “complete”.

Of course, the seller is under no obligation other than truthful disclosure.

Let’s treat the report like what it is; a list of deficiencies. The number of sellers I have seen treat it like a punch list I could count on one hand after an industrial accident.

Roy, you and Char used CD checklist reports. CD checklist reports were considered the absolute best in the industry from what I have heard. I personally enjoy how the home inspection reports have evolved over the past 5 years.

1: Do you see any similarities between punch list reporting and CD checklist.
2: Would this punch list idea be a move in the right direction?

The punch list system has been around for many years, if not decades. We used it during our field checks in the architectural profession way back in the late 60’s, prior to a final inspection take over.

Do they improve? Hopefully yes, but they will never capture every possible deficiency. So even the computer generated standard form systems need improvement at least every year.

I had a similar discussion with my online HVAC course students last night when one asked me about what how do I enter information about a “swamp cooler” - evaporative cooler system that was not covered or allowed space to add comments in a checklist system.

Typically the system I use and recommend is a combination checklist that offers additional space for “others” not covered by such checklist standardized reports.

Of course I’m sure everyone has their own favored system.

In My area many home Inspectors still use the C&D System

Morning Roy, Claude, et al.

Fast Forms can make home inspection report writing fast an effective. IMO, there are limitations.

Roy, you gave me a Carson Dunlop older paper checklist report as a sample when I visited your home back in 2012 when you had inspectors over for an educational weekend. Still have it archived somewhere.
I heard inspectors still use the paper checklist method today.

Although not as robust as CD software forms and cloud it got the job done effectively from what I remember.

You still think there is a place for the paper forms?


I never had a client who did not love the Carson Dunlop Report .
Much info inside

They used to hold the book like it was their BABY .
I still see them frequently at yard sales when people are selling their home to go into a retirement home .
15 years and they still had it handy

The C&D home Reference book was (and still is) a fantastic product, but it is what it is, a reference tool. Much of it is an engineering document (not surprising given the authors). The Home Inspection part of it - the punch list, or tick-guess as I like to call it, is only as good as the inspector.

I have seen some excellent versions of these reports, and I have seen some terrible ones, which were completely undecipherable. (See example of the roofing section of one that I had to review)

Personally I find my clients prefer a narrative report, as provided for by most modern software packages, (HomeGauge, HIP, Horizon etc.) and they LOVE the InterNACHI “Now you’ve had a home inspection”]( book and the Safe Home Book

Both are far simpler to read, are regularly updated and are far prettier in my honest opinion. :smiley:

So with that in mind - exactly how much would you expect to be read to a client to properly inform them about how to use and understand the report?

Exactly. The average narrative reports I’ve seen have around 1-2 summary pages (really important stuff), 12 pages of salient information (important to know but not generally decision affecting) and 20-30 of FYI.

Because it’s in narrative format, people read the summary, generally read the salient stuff, and then glaze over.

The extra books are just marketing.

The home reference books consist of 11 pages of very often confusing comments.

Lets turn the question around.
Look at question and lets turn the question around.
"Exactly how much, or how little, would an inspector explain to a client to properly inform them about how to use and understand the report.

How much; Post inspection reviews are the best way of providing your client useful information.
I am going to start offering, in house post inspection reviews, again.
New format.

CD Horizon 400 page binder-less document helps home owners understand all the systems, structures and components in the average home.
One uses it cross referencing with the report. The best IMO.

Lets talk levers and "Exactly how much, or how little, would an inspector explain to a client to properly inform them about how to use and understand the report.
REA/REB teach home inspectors to talk soft, write soft and in return get referrals in return as long as homes sell.

Any of that discussed during Ontario’s licensing and regulation committees?

I offered a comment regarding “what would a judge think” when a home inspector tries to explain the difference between the “significant” defects, and rest of the useful to some information, or the comment from the judge. “Do you expect your client to read all of this…extra reference materials.”

Yes, I agree there’s a few nice references offered out there, but what as a home inspector is our main obligation that “must” be fulfilled to a client, in the eyes of duties legally ?

IMHO The report must identify “significant” issues, what the implication of those issues are, and a referral to competent professionals for repair or remediation.

A 70+ page report full of fluff and irrelevant information will never be read by the client! Keep it short and simple.


Len, will you anyone else please go to
and win yourself a free case of books. :slight_smile:

I tried

Claude, it is rather easy to take one or even two two hours yo explain the home inspection report to the client.
If not, who’s responsibility is it? The agents?

Rarely are there significant issues in a home.
IE: Most Foundation cracks are not significant.
Deferred maintenance is a constant.
But many items can be financially taxing.

As for the extra reference materials. That is for cross referencing and reading during home ownership.

Agreed…Thanks Doug

Robert - For clarification I did not say that the inspector should not advise the client of the findings and implications “they” have. As well as take the time to do it!

My point was more about as Doug stated - “fluff” and an encyclopedia of home systems added for reference. Having represented a fair number of clients in court, I’m just stating what a judge added about looking at one particular home inspection report binder, how it would in his opinion be very confusing and information overload to a buyer.

Claude, sorry if you feel offended you. It was truly not mean that way.

I will try to granulate/explain my thoughts.

Your and Douglases points “My point was more about as Doug stated - “fluff” and an encyclopedia of home systems added for reference.”

Fluff, or report page filler, mostly copy,swipe,paste, is not required unless one is constipated while on a commode and in need of reading material or requires light reading material to ease ones insomnia, were as Len correctly identified, “salient information/most noticeable or important” is most helpful & required.

As well, granulating, “salient information/most noticeable or important.” to one whom understands the documented.

To those whom do not understand the document through fault of their own, or through conflicted interest to acquire free marketing, is another case onto its own.:wink:

Claude, in my humble opinion, there is no information overload when systematically advised.
CD does a marvelous job of cross referencing.
There is a 400 page binder-less document at the back of every report explaining structures, systems and components associated in every home if that CD member decides he or she wishes to add the link.

One of the inspectors I mentored PROUDLY showed me his paper volume/encyclopedia as Roy describes, handling like a baby.
I mentioned to him, the exact same thing things exists in my reports without the need to deforest Canada’s lands and to perpetuate a recycling industry:-) Ha ha ha…

As well, on the judges “opinion”.
One judge does not make good reference having been in front of several judges acting on a behalf of several plaintiff’s and as expert witness.
On one occasion, a judge whom could not understand basic narratives used by home inspectors, builders, architects and engineers, insisted her/his rewritten/reworded narratives was how the judges court would use a non standard terms and would not even try to adjust to pro-quo or home inspection narrating static quo.
One term, “wall bulge.”
I explained a convex in/on a wall, or bulge/bulging bricks / masonry units. Bulge being operative word.:roll:
“A bump, blister, hump, lump, and appendage…”

What side of street did the wall face?
I use, as most of us here, North, South, East, West to relate to location.
I used floors and the above.

Then I used, front,rear, left, right top, bottom, to no avail.

The judge could not conceive this simple location strategy.
I knew we were in for a long haul.:roll:

The discussion went forward until the judges location was rewritten in a manner the judge could correlate or, have a “mutual relationship or connection with,” in which one thing affects or depends on another.
Not a good why to discover and document findings IMO.

It ended for myself, involved in the hearings on the forth day, with the lawyer making a*** huge gaff***, everyone asked to leave the room by your honor, except myself. I had been locked down in chambers alone to reflect on my comments for nearly one hour.
I was so agitated!!!
I wish I could say more but…

Everyone entered the chambers after 40 minutes with the judge asking me had I made a decision.
I answered, your honor, I did. “I remained totally committed to my remarks.” " I will not retract a word!"

I excused myself in-front of your honor, I reached over and grabbed the lawyers notes in-front of her, about 40 pages plus the report, and pointed to an image in question, correlated the two, and convened with the plaintiff and lawyer pointing out their mistake on the page I had only 3 seconds to glimpse at during the hearings 2 hours previously.

Mistake: They did not ask me to sit in during any review meetings.

The lawyer asked the judge to suspend that days proceedings to which everyone agreed.
Long bloody day. That was the fifth by the way of many more to come.

When I was outside with the plaintiff and lawyer I advised them I will not be put under such aggravated dress every again.
I mentioned they had made Juvenal gaffs based on bias.

I mentioned I had been in chambers before and surely knew what to expect after being expert witness and they did not head my warning of FULL DISCLOSURE.
I refused to move forward and wished them all well.

So judges are fallible and more so with hubris personalities.

Sorry for the edits.

Robert - no offense taken. Most every technical report is based on “presenting facts” in a methodical and “widely acceptable writing style”. In my opinion inspection reports, engineering reports, building system reports all immediately come to mind.

As stated earlier, not full of fluff or seemingly endless pages reference materials. With this in mind I recommend 2 well written books on this subject. These often used in our college technical communication courses.

The Elements of Style - Strunk & White
Making Sense (A Students Guide to Research and Writing) Engineering & Technical Sciences

Both books discuss about “thinking about the purpose” and “think about the reader” of a report. The very basic rule of “professional writing” is that it should not be any longer than it need to be.

Remember the inspectors job is not to determine how much or how little the client knows about the detailed systems of a house, but simply provide "facts’ that pertain to that house. Those facts should help in making an informed decision on buying and/or answering the clients concerns about the condition.

Again - just my educated opinion, the choices made by others on how to certainly can vary.