Once you get inspection services, the next step is to get the vital document providing valuable insights into the property’s condition, named a home inspection report. By understanding this report, the home buyer or owner can make more informed decisions about their property. Elite Inspections guides you through decoding your home inspection report, demystifying technical jargon, and empowering you to take actionable steps toward maintaining or improving your property.

Understanding the Basics of a Home Inspection Report

Before we dive into deciphering the report, let’s establish a solid foundation. A house inspection report is a comprehensive assessment of a property’s structural and functional aspects. It’s composed of several key components, including general information, the inspector’s findings, areas assessed, a summary of issues, and recommendations. These reports come in various types, such as pre-purchase, pre-listing, and maintenance inspections, each serving a distinct purpose.

What’s Included 

A house inspection report typically covers various aspects of the property, including but not limited to structural components, including the foundation, walls, roof, windows, doors, exterior features (siding, landscaping, drainage, and grading), interior features (plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC, insulation), appliances (kitchen appliances, water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioning units), and attic and crawl spaces.

Inspection Process

The inspection process comprises a visual examination of all areas, identification of damage and wear and tear, and highlighting safety concerns and local code violations. Moreover, the professional inspectors will also test functional systems or appliances to ensure their optimal performance.

Report Format 

The home inspection report is typically a comprehensive written document that provides details about the property’s condition. It may include photographs and descriptions of any issues found. The report is organized into sections detailing each area of the property that was inspected and indicating the inspector’s findings.

Grading and Severity 

Issues identified during the inspection are usually categorized by their severity. These categories often include:

  • Major Defects: Significant issues that require immediate attention and could impact the property’s value or safety.
  • Minor Defects: Less critical issues that should be addressed but may not require immediate action.
  • Maintenance Items: Routine maintenance or repairs that are recommended to keep the property in good condition.


The report may include recommendations for repairs, further evaluations by specialists (such as electricians or plumbers), and preventive maintenance. Buyers can use this information to negotiate repairs with the seller, while sellers can prioritize necessary fixes before listing the property.


It’s important to note that a home inspection has limitations. Inspectors cannot see inside walls or predict future issues. They assess what’s visible and accessible at the time of the inspection.

Interpreting the Language: Key Terms and Concepts

Deciphering your report requires familiarity with technical terminology. We’ll demystify terms like structural integrity, HVAC systems, electrical wiring, plumbing systems, and roofing and attics. Additionally, we’ll delve into the grading severity, helping you understand the significance of designations like minor, major, and safety concerns in the context of issues discovered during the inspection.

Interpreting a home inspection report involves understanding various key terms and concepts used to describe the condition of the property. Here are some important terms and concepts you may encounter in a house inspection report:


Any issue or problem with a component of the property that needs attention, repair, or replacement. Defects are typically categorized as major or minor based on their impact and urgency.

Major Defect

A significant issue that requires immediate attention due to safety concerns, potential structural damage, or a substantial impact on the property’s value. Examples include a leaking roof, faulty electrical wiring, or a cracked foundation.

Minor Defect

A less critical issue that still needs to be addressed but may not pose an immediate threat to safety or property value. Examples include a dripping faucet, loose handrails, or minor water stains.

Maintenance Item

Routine tasks or repairs are recommended to keep the property in good condition and prevent future issues. These items may not necessarily be defects, but they are important for ongoing maintenance.

Safety Hazard

A condition that poses an immediate risk to the safety of occupants or visitors. Examples include exposed electrical wires, unstable stairs, or gas leaks.

Functional Obsolescence

A term used to describe a component or feature of a property that is outdated or no longer functional as intended. For example, an older heating system that is less efficient may be functionally obsolete.

Material Defect 

A significant issue that could impact a buyer’s decision to purchase the property or the property’s value. Material defects are often required to be disclosed by sellers in some jurisdictions.

Life Expectancy

The estimated period of time that a component or system is expected to function properly before needing replacement or significant repairs. This information can help buyers plan for future maintenance and costs.

Deferred Maintenance

Repairs or maintenance tasks that have been postponed or neglected over time, potentially leading to further deterioration of the property.

Crawl Space

A low, narrow space under a building’s first floor, often used for access to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. Crawl spaces can be subject to moisture issues and may require special attention.

Attic Inspection

An assessment of the attic space, including insulation, ventilation, and any signs of leaks or pest infestations.

Soffit and Fascia

Issues with the undersurface of a roof’s overhang (soffit) and the vertical board that caps the end of roof rafters (fascia) can impact the roof’s protection and ventilation.


A naturally occurring radioactive gas that can accumulate in homes and pose health risks. Radon testing may be recommended in areas with known radon levels.

Mold and Mildew 

Fungal growth can be caused by moisture issues. Mold and mildew can impact indoor air quality and the integrity of building materials.

Navigating the Inspection House Reviews

Navigating a home inspection report involves thoroughly reviewing and understanding the findings presented in the report. The inspection house reviews can provide essential insights into the credibility of inspection companies.

Start by reviewing the report section by section and understanding defect categories. Focus on the major defects first, and after addressing them, move on to the minor defects and maintenance items. If you come across any technical terms or terminology you don’t understand, refer to the glossary provided in the report or seek clarification from the home inspector.

Some reports may include supporting documents, such as photographs, diagrams, or reference materials. Review these materials to gain a visual understanding of the issues mentioned in the report. If you have questions or need further explanation about specific findings, don’t hesitate to contact the home inspector. Moreover, you can also consult a professional and negotiate repairs or adjustments.


This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of a home inspection report, including the format, content, and key findings. Elite Inspections is here to guide you through the process of decoding your report, providing you with the knowledge and tools to keep your property in good condition. Read here for the proper breakdown of your home inspection report.