Regarding General Home inspection only, report length is a controversial subject among inspectors, is a question constantly asked by new inspectors, and is affected by:

• Jurisdictional regulations
• Standards of practice;
• Scope of the inspection
• Personal preference;
• Risk tolerance;
• Report content
• Report format;
• Report generating system (software)
• Use of a narrative library;
• Property characteristics; and
• Local practices/expectations.

Beyond the basic requirements of the standards of practice and any jurisdictional regulations, report length and content are choices made by the inspector.

Jurisdictional regulations

The jurisdiction most commonly affecting report content is the state, with Texas being the most famous (infamous according to many inspectors). The Texas Real Estate Commission requires that home inspectors adhere strictly to a specific format.


Standards of practice /Scope of the inspection

Both influence the number of items inspected which in turn impacts report length.

Personal preference
Inspectors are individual business owners and as long as they meet minimum requirements (standards of practice ) they are free to decide on the limits of report content.

Risk tolerance
Longer reports offer more protection from liability, but are less likely to be read completely, which can result in misunderstandings resulting in unhappy clients, regardless of whether the problem is the inspector’s fault. Short reports may omit information that might later turn out to be important, and may leave the report open to interpretation to an excessive degree.

Report Content
Some inspectors use many photos, narratives, and include details that other inspectors consider superfluous. More content that covers the house in greater detail will increase report length.

Report Format
Digital reports can be supplied as:

  1. A digital version of a checklist report that supplies a minimum amount of information;
  2. A hybrid that includes a checklist showing what was inspected and narrative descriptions where necessary, sometimes including photos; or
  3. A report consisting mostly of narratives.
    Checklist reports will be shortest and narrative reports will be longest.

Report generating system (software)
Modern inspection software typically provides methods for both data collection and report compilation. Ease of use including transferring and annotating of photos can affect the time required to compile a report, which in turn may affect report length.

Use of a narrative library
Use of a narrative library consisting of organized, pre-written narratives will save inspectors the time otherwise spent writing narrative descriptions of conditions they find.

Property Characteristics
The property size, complexity, systems installed, accessibility, and condition will all affect the report length.

Local Practices/Expectations
Report length (and content) may also be affected by what is common in a particular market. Short reports in areas in which reports are commonly substantial may be viewed as inadequate. Longer reports where most reports are short may be viewed as excessively detailed and more apt to kill a transaction.

Longer reports may be complained about by agents because assimilating the information is more time consuming and difficult. Inspectors who are heavily dependent on agent referrals for work- and this includes most new inspectors- are more likely to be influenced by these complaints.

Inspectors are neutral third parties in a transaction and should do their best to limit outside influences in making decisions about report content.

In making decisions about report length and content, inspectors may want to view online sample reports from other inspectors in their area and should speak with a local attorney familiar with home inspection.