Suggestions for understanding your report
How to read the report
First and foremost, take a moment to understand the icons associated with each comment. Many of the observations are informational, minor concerns, or common deficiencies. The icons are your key to understanding the significance of each item. Items that potentially significantly impact the value or habitability of the home will be identified as "Material Defects" and will appear in red. These items should be considered first. The next items to consider are the ones that appear in the summary.
Should the seller fix all these defects?
Your best resource for how to handle any deficiencies is your real estate agent/broker (assuming you have representation as a buyer). For those of you who are purchasing private party or are "sharing" the seller's agent, here are my thoughts. The home inspection report is not intended to be a repair list for the seller. The seller is not required to make any repairs. Houses are like any used item (a car for example) in that there is no reason to expect or demand that they be in "like new" condition or meet the same standards as new construction. Having said that, there are times when it is reasonable to request that the seller either repair a defect or make a financial concession. In my opinion, it comes down to the buyer's expectations when they made the offer. Did the house fairly represent itself? If the buyer offered top dollar for the property because visually it looked pristine, then it is reasonable that the buyer expected the systems of the house to function. So, if any don't, the buyer may feel that his/her original offer no longer reflects the actual condition of the home. A word of caution: although it is well within your right to ask the seller to rectify deficiencies, it is the seller's right to chose whether to have them all fixed or some fixed or decline to make any repairs whatsoever. Of course, you as a buyer (in most circumstances while still in the due diligence period) have the right to terminate the contract if the house does not meet your expectations. Defects listed on an inspection report do not constitute a requirement that the seller repair the items. Your agent will help you navigate this process.
How do I get these defects fixed?
Three quotes should be obtained for any significant repair (something bigger than a service call). Contractor pricing in this area has a broad range. Careful shopping can save literally thousands.
This house has a "Material Defect." What should I do?
Material defects tend to involve replacement of a basic system of the home (HVAC, plumbing, etc.). Frequently, these seemingly "deal breaker" issues aren't deal breakers at all. First, don't react until you have more information. Get at least three quotes. The last home that I was involved with that required all new plumbing, the potential buyer received an initial quote of $12,000. The next three quotes were $3,600, $4,000, and $7,000. The buyer and seller split the cost of the $4,000 quote. If the buyer had over-reacted based on the initial quote, this would have been a deal breaker issue. Most often, even large issues can be rectified for a reasonable amount (relative to the price of a home).
This sure seems like a lot of issues. Is this house a lemon?
Please don't mistake our thoroughness as an indictment of the condition of the home. We include many details on your report that exceed the scope of a basic home inspection. Our goal is to educate you about your new home.
Do all these defects need to be repaired?
What you choose to repair or choose to live with will come down to the details of your circumstances. From an inspector's perspective, it would be ideal to have them all repaired, but the practical reality is that most of my customer's choose what's important to them and leave the rest.