There will most likely be a lot of words and verbiage that you may not be familiar with in context. Your Home Inspector will walk through the home and exterior noting defects and verifying components are in good condition and any unusual wear and tear as well as systems that are either inoperable or nearing failure. This will most likely come to you in a Home Inspection Report delivered to you and/or your agent. Nowadays with the current technology, you should expect this within 24 hours. Photos will be included as well as notations for any and all potential or future issues. Your report should you give knowledge on all aspects of your home found at the time of the inspection. I always prefer our clients/buyers to attend the inspection or at the very least the buyers agent. This allows for visual identification within the home of issues. However, this is not always possible.
Now that you have your report let's get in to what to expect. The condition of systems, components or areas of the home will probably be noted in terms of "Satisfactory, Marginal, Poor" or similar words. I will use my Inspection Report as an example, we use these exact words.
Satisfactory- Means the area or item is in good condition and SHOULD be in proper condition for longer than 5 years under normal, typical conditions.
Marginal- The area or item has normal wear and tear, typical damage expected over time. This area or item will need repairs/replacement within 5 years. For example: An asphalt roof that has lost granules, started curling or cracking. This is typical over time. Within 5 years this will need to be repaired/replaced as needed by the proper contractor.
Poor- The area or item is in bad condition or at the end of its lifespan. This item/area requires immediate repair/replacement. This can either be due to normal wear and tear that has never been serviced or evaluated and is now in need of immediate attention. Or there is improper installation which can become a safety/fire/electrical hazard.
Hopefully most areas of your potential home will be in satisfactory field. But this is not always true, the next part of your home inspection report is important. Just because items may be Marginal does not mean it needs immediate repair, so do not freak out. I have seen many items such as water heaters, A/C, Furnace units that have well exceeded the normal lifespan. Home Inspectors do not have a crystal ball, items can be in good condition one day and a month later fail. It happens. No one can predict this. Should you have any marginal systems, it is recommended to have it further evaluated by the proper contractor. Going back to A/C or furnace units, if properly maintained serviced, it is not uncommon or unheard for these items to operate for 15-20 years. Just like your automobile, more often than not if you take care of it, get it serviced properly and regularly and it will last much more longer than if not taken care of. Take care of your systems, and they will take care of you.
Also, items that are marginal may have improperly installed items. This can be a simple fix sometimes. Such as replacing parts. No big deal. This will be determined by the contractor evaluating.
If any items are in Poor condition, these should be repaired/replaced as soon as possible. As mentioned above these are items that are failing, about to fail, or are a safety hazard. This can cover anything from roofing to electrical to the siding of the home. No home is perfect.
The next step after you have looked through the report is to get with your agent, put together what is commonly called a "Request for repairs" form. This form is where you will list any issues found on the inspection report that you would like the seller to repair. It can be tricky and becomes a game of give and take. Your agent should help you through the rest of the process. Should you have any questions, concerns thoughts regarding your Home Inspection Report you should not hesitate to contact your inspector. We, as Home Inspectors have a basic of knowledge of the Real Estate Transaction process and should be more than happy to offer any further advice or answer your questions. I make a note on every single Home Inspection Report once I am sending it to my client or agent, that if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. I would love to help, and your inspector should too.