A summary and photos in the inspection report.

Home Inspector with Trace Inspections, LLC TN #17

I have included a summary in my report for the past 15+ years, or ever since I started inspecting homes. 

Why do I include a summary?  I guess the main reason is that if as a buyer I needed an inspection I would want to have a summary in my report.  As a buyer I would want to know the high points or the problems that were found during the inspection without sifting through pages and pages of a report.  I have always treated my clients like I would want to be treated, this could be why I have been successful in my business.  I'm trying to make the process as easy as it can be for my client, lord only knows that their head is spinning in all directions during the home buying process.

Some might argue that most folks will only read the summary.

This is kind of like leading a horse to water!  Once the report is out of my hands I have no control over it. But in my report I state in several areas, that the summary needs to be used with the entire report as this is the only way that you will get the entire picture of the conditions that were found.  I tell my clients and their agents to use the summary as a road map to guide them through the report. 

What about pictures in the report?  Hopefully your inspection report will include pictures of the findings and hopefully the pictures will be in the body of the report and not the summary.

Why put the pictures in the body of the report and not the summary you might be asking?  Well, by not having the pictures in the summary this helps to make the reader go into the report to see them.  This is just another subtle way to reinforce the fact that one needs to also read the entire report and not just the summary.

The inspection profession is divided on offering a summary.  From what I have been able to tell about 70% of the profession offers a summary. This has shifted over the past several years.  At one time very few inspectors provided a summary in their reports, now it is becoming the norm.

Comments (11)

Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


I agree with you on this. I provide a summary and often juggle mentally what to send there. I send anything I think could come back to haunt me and my photos are only in the body.

Jun 01, 2010 04:38 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Same here Scott----at the beginning of the Summary I have a statement that says there are pictures in the body of the report that will make the summary clearer.  I also make it very clear that summary items are my "opinion" of what should be there as there may very well be other issues that the buyer would have put there so they need to read the whole dang thing :)

Jun 01, 2010 07:59 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

Steve and Charles, it is good to see that Great Minds think alike!

Jun 01, 2010 08:57 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Scott, I have seen Steve's mind and I am so glad minds don't have to look alike to think alike :)

Jun 01, 2010 12:35 PM
Jim Mushinsky
Centsable Inspection - Framingham, MA

I have heard that offering multiple written descriptions for the same technical issue does not provide the inspector with a legal defense if there is a complaint.

Anyone hear similar?   Any lawyers out there?

Just like the term, "functional with exceptions".  I have heard no legal defense.  Did you say it is functional?  and Except for these circumstances.  So then it is not functional as you indicated...



Jun 06, 2010 08:32 AM
Scott Patterson, ACI
Trace Inspections, LLC - Spring Hill, TN
Home Inspector, Middle TN

Jim, I do a good amount of litigation support in cases involving home inspectors.  My experience has shown that inspectors get into trouble when the simply do not report a problem or "soft" report items in the home.

Anyone using the phrase "Functional with exceptions" needs to be hung out to dry! It is either working and OK or it is not.  Tell your client that it is working, it is installed improperly, needs repair/correction, or it is not working.  All very simple terms that can not be misunderstood.

A 15 year old HVAC system might be working but it is at the end of its life and could die next week.  Let your client know this and they will not be upset with you when it does give up the ghost and stops working.

Jun 07, 2010 04:06 AM
Dale Ganfield
Leland, NC

Hi Scott, new to this group, so I am just scanning some of the posts.  Your's caught my eye.  North Carolina regulations require a summary section which must include all items identified as repair or replacement, further investigation, or further observation.   Inclusion of photos in the summary only, main report only, or both, was a recent topic within members of the NC Licensed Home Inspectors Association Triangle Chapter.   There was no consensus among the group.  I agree that the complete set of photos should be in the main report.  I also know that frequently the summary will get separated from the main report and used to generate repair orders where a photo can be very helpful.  So, although it makes the report longer, and many disagree with this approach, I include the photos for summary items in the summary and a complete set of photos in the main report.  Each section, the summary and the main report, is complete on its own if separated.

Jul 02, 2010 10:04 AM
Bruce Ramsey
Advocate Inspections - Raleigh, NC

State licensing requires a summary section in my area.  I post photos in the body of the report only.  I have simplified my decision making about what goes in the summary and what gets left out.  Every defect goes in the summary regardless of how cheap or easy to fix.  If it is worth putting in the report, it is worth mentioning in the summary.  There is no sorting of my summary items into Major/Minor, just sorted by systems.

The only complaint I have received was a request to number the items in the summary so it would be easier to discuss the items with the sellers agent.  That implies that my report is being forwarded in whole to the seller.  At least that way the seller and sellers agent have access to the photos of the defects and probably have less discussion about whether the defect is real.

Dec 07, 2010 04:46 AM
Spectrum Inspection Group
Spectrum Inspection Group - Las Vegas, NV

That's how we do our reports as well.  Some people here don't even include photos!  I can't imagine!

Sep 20, 2012 05:08 AM
Larry Losciale
Inverness, FL

Hey Scott,

     I'm also new to AR and intrigued by your post. I agree there needs to be a summary and in this area (North central FL) it seems to be pretty much standard. I would add that I like to put mine at the end of the report as another way to push the client into reading the rest of the report. I, like you, also put my pics in the body of the report and for the same reason.

    It does make me wonder when I see some reports with nothing but check marks, no pictures and little if any real description of the defect. 

Dec 15, 2012 01:37 AM
Dennis Barnes
Barnes Inspection Services - Springfield, VA
Great Commercial Property & Home Inspector

I'm with the majority and provide not one summary but three summaries at the end of the report. No summary photos (only in the full report). Agents seems to like three summaries - Safety Issues, Major Deficiencies and Repair/Replace Items. HomeGauge report software is pretty flexible with these summaries.

Jul 28, 2013 12:20 PM