When home inspectors are discussing defects, “just plain wrong” might be accurate, and even enough of an explanation. However, it is best practice for home inspectors to convey in writing what the defect is, what will or can happen if nothing is done about the defect, and then provide some guidance as to who should make repairs---including how urgent those repairs. I personally like to give some guidance as to how “difficult” those repairs might be, which typically translates to how costly they might be.
Most consumers have ZERO clue as to whether those normal shrinkage cracks on the garage floor is a sign of impending implosion of the garage, or just normal shrinkage cracks of ZERO consequence.
I see so many inspection reports that do not address defects adequately for any of the parties involved in the transaction. While they might state the issue, it is often quite impossible to get any sense of what the defect means—as that information is left to the party called to make further evaluation. This makes the call for “further evaluation” both too common and typically unnecessary.
This is the inspector not doing what they were hired to do.
I think it does a huge disservice to the entire process if the inspector is capable of recognizing a defect, but then cannot or does not explain how the defect “should be.” This information need not be prescriptive enough to take away the job of the person called to make repairs, and it should probably never be a blueprint for unqualified parties to undertake the work. However, if an inspector knows that something is wrong, they should also know how to explain why it is wrong, what are the implications of its being wrong, and who should make the repairs. They likely, in many cases (depending on their experience) might be able to provide some guidance as to possible scenarios for repairs.
Scenarios for repairs can transform panic to calm—in an instant—because knowledge is power. Panic usually results from lack of information and viable options—or the perception that there might not be any options at all.
In the context of the recommendation for repairs, the inspector will sometimes call for a full evaluation of the installation as deemed necessary by the particular qualified party—to make sure the entire installation is acceptable and safe. Further evaluation in this sense is not evading the issue; it is adding value to the recommendation and further protecting all parties involved. For example this “further evaluation” might result in the discovery of issues that are not readily visible to the inspector—but important nonetheless.
All of this said, I trust everyone can see that the light fixture pictured above, “is just plain wrong!”
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle.