Writing a Report

This is from another thread about roof shingles. I put this quote here because I think it goes in another interesting direction. We frequently get clients and agents asking us specifically to identify what, where, and how many, how extensive, defects are. For instance, a ten or so years ago, I found some “fogged” double-pane windows and some other operational defects and recommended that a window tech evaluate all windows for repairs.

The client (who was not present for the inspection) demanded that I identify each and every window with a defect and the exact defect for each and every window. When I asked why he didn’t have the seller get a window tech to evaluate the windows with the Inspection Resolution Form, he would only say that it was my job to do this. I pointed out that the window tech might spend several hours evaluating the windows compared to my several hours on the entire inspection and it was in his best interest to have a window specialist inspect the windows. He vehemently disagreed.
Then his agent called me to express her displeasure with me. She said, “You know how window people are. They will pick the windows apart and find everything wrong. They will end up recommending replacing all of them.” I replied, “Well, maybe some of them will do that. But isn’t that the point of getting a window person over to see what they will say, just like we would do for hail damage on a roof, or a problem with the furnace?” She said, " I just don’t know why you want say which windows have a problem?" And I came back with, “I just don’t see why you won’t make a request to the seller to take care of this on their nickel. You can specify to the seller which window company you want to come out. The seller can agree, or you can negotiate, but that is in the best interest of our client to get a window expert out.”
I never heard from either of them again. I have never had so much resistance to recommending further evaluation by an appropriate expert before or since.
I have a clause in my agreement stating that, The purpose of the inspection is to observe the general condition of the subject property and identify and disclose those major defects, deficiencies, and hazards which are readily visible and accessible at the time of the inspection. Not all tools carried by the inspector may be used on every inspection. Any tools utilized by the inspector are used at the discretion of the inspector. Descriptions and photos of defects listed in the report are not a comprehensive list and should be considered representative of the conditions observed. Observations, conclusions and recommendations in the report are based on the inspected samples. Components, devices, and systems are operated as intended by manufacturers using manufacturers’ instructions, related industry recommendations, and state and federal guidelines when applicable.

When I see several defects repeating, I will report something like “Several loose outlets. Have an electrician inspect all outlets.” But if I only find one loose outlet in the entire vacant house with no furniture where I actually inspected every outlet, I will identify that specific loose outlet. So far, I have not had a legal challenge to my approach.

In Matt’s example that started my essay, I would report something like, “Two damaged ducts noted in the crawlspace. A HVAC tech should evaluate the entire system and make repairs.”

I have some more thoughts and stories on this topic, but this essay is long enough at this point.


Does your state home inspection standards indicate otherwise?

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I agree with this approach.

I could tweak this a bit to align with exactly what the SOP says which is basically normal operating controls. However, the SOP is weak on things like how to test a GFCI.

Good stuff Lon! Details matter and your response to the agent was spot on. I had a similar incident when an agent wanted me to identify every location where I observed CSST gas piping because my narrative was a general statement “CSST gas piping observed several locations in the home…bonding…etc etc.”

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This is usually the case when a realtor intends to have the “office handyman”, ie. ‘unqualified person’, make the repairs, and when it isn’t right, the inspector gets the blame for not stating all the areas needing correction.


Right! And they want our report to be the “scope of work”.


Anything to make their job easier…ijuts! :rofl:


I generally always use the phrasing “I observed one or more <defect(s)> during my inspection” in my reports, especially with minor defects or house components that are numerous (e.g. windows, receptacles). So, if I observe and record one defect, such as a double-paned window with a broken seal, there is always the built-in presumptive wording in the report that there could be more defects of the same type. If they call on the qualified professional for “further evaluation and correction” as was recommended, the specialist would, of course, examine all the windows.

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I have considered this in the past. But I have left it behind and here is why. One or more does not really give the client the extent of the problem. I lean more towards Lon with terms like…one, a few, several, many or multiple. But in the end I think it is really style, the important part is that the defect is identified. Mission accomplished.

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I think we are saying the same thing, which is, we cannot be expected to know the full extent of the problem within an approximate two-hour inspection covering all major house systems. How that is worded in the report could be different based on how many were actually observed, e.g. one, two, half-a-dozen. However, the salient point is no matter how many were found, an extensive search by a specialist is still likely to uncover even more examples and perhaps other defects as well.


Yep, I’ve had this come up a few times. Our standard write-up already has a disclaimer that thwarts most people’s attempts at this:

A failed seal is evidenced by a haze that cannot be cleaned away from either side. Replacing the glass panel is typically necessary to correct this condition. Depending on the time of year, how recently a seal failure occurred and the outside weather conditions, a failed seal can be more or less noticeable. It is possible that additional windows are damaged and were not visible at the time of the inspection.

I also often tell people the windows would need to be cleaned. I love how people expect us to do what a specialist can’t/isn’t willing to do… LOL!


We don’t have a state standard, but still a great point, since I followed the NACHI SoP. But not a point that this guy was interested in hearing. Of course, the SoP is a minimum standard and most of us go beyond the Standard when inspecting.

There is a local inspection company with multiple inspectors. They have a two tiered basic inspection. The first tier is an inspection that basically adheres to the NACHI SoP. They explain that they will inspect a representative sample of repeated features, such as, some of the outlets, some of the switches, some of the windows. For a higher price, they will inspect anything they can get to, all of the accessible outlets, switches, windows.
I have always inspected everything and anything I can. But now I’ll bring up a side topic. We all seem to be mostly in agreement about reporting these kind of things. Let’s say that you find a couple of loose outlets, a reversed polarized outlet, an ungrounded 3-prong outlet, a scorched outlet and this is just the first ten outlets that you have looked at. There are 45 more outlets to go! Do you stop checking outlets or continue to check them all? Do you report multiple defects with sampled outlets and recommend evaluation of all outlets or specify the various defects?

Yes, I do sampled.

The receptacles had multiple deficiencies or safety concerns observed such as; many loose receptacles, a few with reversed polarization and several were ungrounded. Due to the numerous issues, recommend further evaluation of the entire branch wiring system and repairs/corrections as needed by a qualified electrical contractor.

Or I may say, I evaluated a representative number of outlets (windows or whatever)

Regarding windows, specifically bedrooms, I will inspect all that are accessible. Any bedroom window that has any issues, I will be specific in my report to which bedroom and window it is. If they are not accessible, I will note in my report. The rest of the house may be a representative number for operation or other issues.

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Maybe its just me. But i do specify each and every window, outlet or any other defect and provide each and every location. I also provide every picture i take in my report. I take pictures of every ceiling, walls, floors and windows.
I may include around 250 or more pictures, but do not include them in my summary.
Why, well if any problem down the road happens to these areas after my inspection i can just refer to the location on report saying it was’nt present when i inspected instead of saving all pictures.
To me, providing all these pictured protects me more. Attacks welcomed!!!

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You asked for it!!

Lol. Very cool

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When I inspected for LA City Code Enforcement, it was required to return to verify compliance, so I often made a note something like this- “inspection revealed damaged, loose, and or faulty wiring at several receptacles. Recommend to obtain services of qualified repair service to check all for proper function and repair as needed throughout, including but not limited to the following locations…”"

To play devil’s advocate, your method of including all the CYA pictures in the report could backfire. It could also show if something was present that you missed. And you have readily handed the evidence over to the plaintiff.


That is the kind of feedback that I think is useful in this discussion. I’ll say upfront that I think your approach is overkill. A few years ago, an agent asked me to look over an inspection report on one of her listings that had over 250 photos in it. The report was over 150 pages long. Even the summary was seven pages long. I think, in general, photos that do not show a defect, distract a client. I often include photos of minor defects, just because most people are scanning the report and the photos will focus their attention. General photos, in my opinion, are distracting. The beauty of our business is that all of us (except you guys in Texas) can do your inspections and reports however you want to.
I have modified my report more times than I can remember because of feedback. Just recently, another inspector on our forum told me that he thought I had a confusing and disjointed report. Since, he is the only person ever to tell me that, in the end, I didn’t change much, but I spent a few hours re-examining my report and style.
I think what you describe creates a bloated and confusing report. The areas that I include a photo not showing a defect is the roof and attic and crawlspace, just to prove I was there. If the client saw me looking at those, I don’t include them. I do recommend taking some general photos, but I just have them saved in case some future question comes up.
To Ryan’s point, I hope you still disclaim that you are not trying to identify every single defect in your report.


I agree with you. I will do generals if my client asked for them. Otherwise, they only get the defects.

From my perspective, I have nothing to prove to my clients with photos. As a professional I followed my SOP, if I deviated because of lack of access or safety reasons, I will put that in my report.

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