How to Read a Building Inspection Report

Real Estate Agent

Looking into making a big purchase on a home, office, or future rental? It's crucial before making such a hefty purchase that you know everything you can about the building.

Getting a building inspection report helps ensure you're making a good decision on your purchase and offers a point for negotiation during the building-buying phase. Here's what's on a building inspection report and how to read one.

What's On a Building Inspection Report?

A building inspection report is a report given by a third-party contractor that helps the buyer get a better understanding of what's going on inside and outside of the building they're purchasing.

Often these inspections are not mandatory for purchasing a property. They are highly advised, as they can provide a better understanding of the property, giving the buyer knowledge about any repairs or issues that may lie ahead.

An inspection report is different than the Buyer's Information Notice which all sellers are required, by law, to provide to potential buyers.

A general building inspection report will be broken down by various areas of the property:

  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • Roof
  • Basement/Crawlspace
  • Garage/Carport and driveways
  • and more!

Additional inspections that are advised, but are location-dependent, are termite and pest inspections, mold inspections, and radon inspections.

Details that should be on a general inspection report include:

  • Foundational issues
  • Status of the roof
  • Cosmetic issues
  • Wiring or electrical issues

The list goes on. Each section should include pictures and a description of the issue that the inspector finds in the home.

Can a Property Fail the Building Inspection Report?

Unfortunately, that's not the role of a building inspection report. They aren't designed to have 'pass or fail' metrics in mind, rather, they're to let the buyer make an educated decision about their purchase.

As a result, no building inspector can determine whether or not a property passes or fails.

Signs of a Bad Inspection

It's easy to spot a bad inspection report. Let's start with the obvious: does the inspector address major parts of the building? The foundation, the roof, any siding or exterior pieces?

Do they focus primarily on cosmetic issues? This doesn't ensure that it's a bad inspection. But an overemphasis on a chip in some paint or cracking drywall can indicate a surface-level inspection.

Are the comments generic, or are they detailed as to what issues are seen? "Cracked drywall" is obvious, but does it indicate where the crack originated from?

And did the inspector access the attic, crawlspaces, every nook and cranny accessible to them? Did they offer excuses why they couldn't do things? These are all signs of a bad inspection.

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Knowledge Is Leverage

Knowing what you're getting into is essential when purchasing any type of building. Now you understand why a proper building inspection report, and knowing how to read it, is crucial to the process.

With knowledge, you gain leverage in negotiations, and, if the project becomes too much, you can walk away without spending a cent more on a bad investment.

Check out our related real estate articles for more on making the most of your investments!

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