There are thousands of home inspectors all over the country and almost as many different ways to write a report. A report from Bedrock Inspections rates elements and components as “Satisfactory”, “Fair”, and “Poor”. If something is marked satisfactory then there’s not really anything at all to worry about. The component is still in good shape and there are no visible concerns preventing the item from operating as expected.
Fair is Fair
If something is marked “Fair” then it’s working okay but there may be maintenance or age related notes. Sometimes the item might just need a little tweaking to be made satisfactory. For example: if a door snags a little bit as it’s closing, that’s a fair item. If a door can’t close at all because it isn’t installed right, that would be marked poor. I was at a house recently and got trapped inside a bedroom because the doorknob wasn’t working on both sides. I had to call the seller of the house to come save me! Fortunately, he was just upstairs and got a real kick out of it.
50 Shades of Poor
There are a couple different ways to look at anything rated poor in your report. People unfamiliar with a home’s components may not understand the difference between a functional defect and a high level safety issue. If a countertop isn’t secured to the cabinets, that’s a big old POOR. But how easy of a fix is it? Just go get the right adhesive from any big box store and run a nice chubby bead of glue on top of the cabinet frames, then plop the counter back down and give it a day to set.
What if you’ve got one particular breaker in the electrical panel that’s running significantly hotter than all the others? That’s a bigger issue because it usually means the breaker is going bad and how it’s fixed boils down to your comfort level working with electricity. If you’ve got any hesitation about getting it done right, just pay a pro. If they burn your house down then at least you can use their insurance rather than yours, right?
When To Raise the Red Flag?
Your agent and your inspector can help you understand the severity of whatever is marked poor. I have a mental flowchart for each component. “Is this working like the manufacturer intended?” If yes, cool, then it’s satisfactory; if no, then “is this an immediate concern or just something that the buyer should keep an eye on?” That’s often the difference maker between poor and fair. In the earlier example, the builder should have secured the countertops because that’s the standard in the industry.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Where the report can seem a little muddy is when there are different ratings for the same components throughout the home. Let’s say I’m walking around the house and see a couple broken windows, they’re obviously going to be poor. If I see a few window screens with bent frames or some holes in the mesh, that’s just not on the same level as busted glass. So the WINDOWS component is rated poor overall for the damaged panes in section (1). Advisories like the window screens (or any notes/things you should be made aware of that don’t necessarily affect function) in (2) or (3).
As you can see in (1), there is a genuine safety concern followed by a recommendation.
(2) is not presently considered a safety concern but is something that should be considered to prevent future issues.
(3) is for informational purposes only. Impress your friends!
In the rare event that something cannot be inspected, there will be an explanation and often some accompanying pictures. There are some common things that can’t be inspected, such as:
- Washer hookups if the home is occupied
- The garage walls/floor if the seller is an avid collector of garage sale treasures.
- The far corners of the attic if the framing is tight.
- Sometimes there’s no safe way to get around an attic full of insulation if I can’t see where I’m stepping. I haven’t put a foot through anybody’s ceiling yet and I’m aiming to keep that tradition alive.
Keep Time on Your Side
Everything rated poor will be in a summary at the end of the report to save you from having to sort through 40+ pages. If you’re making a wish list for the seller, skip to the end. Whenever you want a honey-do list, check out the entire body of the report.
Lost in Translation
In any case, it can be difficult even for realtors to keep up with understanding all the different types of inspection reports. Don’t let yourself feel dumb if there’s something that’s just not making sense to you. The report is a legal document and very few people enjoy reading those. A home can be a technical marvel of synergy or a prime candidate for one of those rehab TV shows where they gut everything and the host spends his camera time badmouthing every last person who did any work on the place.
Knowledge is Power
It’s important for buyers to understand what they’re paying for, both the house and the report telling them about the house! You deserve to know what you’re getting, and having a home inspection is more than just jumping through the hoops for a mortgage. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got questions about the inspection or want to get a better understanding of things in the report. A good home inspector doesn’t treat you like you’re dead the instant after they send you their report.
If you’re looking to schedule an inspection, come right this way.
If you’re trying to access your report, then it’s just over here