Reports highlight “significant deficiencies,” not every problem or issue. You may find something important to you, even though they’re not big ticket items.
(“Significant Deficiency” generally is a component or system in a home that is broken or is unsafe. Practically always, significant deficiencies need repairs or replacement.
In some situations, there can be noticeable differences in exactly what a “significant deficiency” means, because Kentucky uses two different “standards of practice” (or “SOP”) for home inspections.
The biggest difference is reporting older systems. For example, one of the two, known as the “ASHI SOP,” requires inspectors to report a “significant deficiency” when any system (like a furnace, air conditioner or roof) is “near the end of their service life.” The other SOP, called “NACHI,” says that being near the end of service life is not a significant deficiency, by itself, when the equipment is working just fine. That means some buyers will be told an older unit is a significant deficiency by ASHI inspectors, no matter how well it has been maintained and even when it is working normally. A NACHI inspector looking at the same unit usually would just say when it was manufactured or permitted, but not label it a “significant deficiency” until something was wrong.
Either way, just because a furnace is old does not mean buyers can have sellers replace it. If the furnace is working, that would be an improvement, not a repair. For most people, age is important. It helps budget for breakdowns that are bound to come sooner or later. Good inspection reports will include the age of major mechanicals like that, one way or the other.
There are other, smaller differences between the SOP too. A common example is that anything “not functioning properly” is a “significant deficiency” for ASHI inspectors. That can get pretty trivial. (Does it include a window latch, or backyard spotlight?). But there is a limit for NACHI inspectors, to avoid nit-picking. A problem is a “signficant deficiency” only if it is likely to have “a signficant, adverse impact on value” of the home, for NACHI inspectors. Light bulbs would not make the cut.)
Second, know your needs. Home buyers basic needs are “buy or bail out” and “budget.”
If “by or bail out” is the main question, total up all repairs, big and small. If there are no surprises, you bought some peace of mind. But avoid guessing. Follow recommendations to get repair estimates or more specialized evaluations, like electrical or HVAC problems. You need numbers, in time, and possibly repairs. Be sure you call the qualified specialist BEFORE you make your final decision. Some repairs are costly and can take a lot of time to do. If you do not have the finances to do the repairs or the time to wait before moving in, you will want to reconsider the offer. Once you’ve agreed to the offer, making changes after is usually not available to you.
Third: Anything can be fixed. The only question is price.
It also is basic for budgeting. Price often is the main question for a “green light.”
Price is up to you. Your agent, and a handful of web sites, like Zillow.com and City-Data.com, help with Fair Market Value prices. Home inspection reports will not. Probably, you’re the only one who can green light a budget, so know the dollars needed.
Home inspectors are like family doctors. They do “check ups” of vital signs, but they do not do heart transplants. When a specialist, like an electrician or plumber, is needed, the home inspection report will tell you. We have a team of professionals we work with at InspectHomes. You can call us for referrals to other qualified professionals such as electricians, plumber, roofers and HVAC. Your real estate agent may also provide you with a list of qualified specialists.