Tips on getting the best home inspection

When we are helping clients purchase a new home here at The Apostal Group, we always highly recommend new-home buyers get a professional home inspection. Even if you’re purchasing a property as-is, it’s good to get an inspection because you never know what’s happening behind the walls. Home inspections span the spectrum, from a quick and easy evaluation of the interior of the unit all the way to the complete forensic inspection of an entire condominium building, including all mechanicals/exterior. Depending on the circumstances of your purchase, you’ll want to select the right kind of inspection.The contract provides a specific time to complete the home inspection, but it’s usually 5-7 business days after the signing of the contract.

Finding the right home inspector can be tricky. If you are buying a new home in Chicago or the surrounding area, the most important thing is to make sure your home inspector is licensed by the state of Illinois. Realtors will almost always have the best recommendations for home inspectors — in our office, we’re always eager to help our clients find the right people and businesses to provide supplemental services, and we are able to provide recommendations to some of the best contractors, decorators and, yes, home inspectors in the city.

Inspections are important to evaluate the soundness of the mechanical systems and construction of a home. A good inspector will make a careful check of all construction items, including structural walls, windows and insulation. They will check for possible environmental issues like asbestos, mold and radon. They will evaluate all systems, including heating, plumbing and electric to identify whether these are up to code or need repairs or replacement. (It should be noted that these are seldom in perfect condition, no matter what type of home you are buying, because codes change often.) The home inspector will also check for structural problems. One roof may require minor repairs, whereas another may need a complete replacement, which will add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the home. Even seemingly minor things like small cracks in the foundation can lead to big problems down, if they are not addressed.

We also recommend that potential home-buyers accompany the inspector during the inspection. During the walk-through, they will teach you how to operate your new home. It’s important to know how your furnace/plumbing/etc works and what to do to troubleshoot problems that may arise. It is also important to have working knowledge of where things are located. For instance, where is your water main? Where’s your sewer line? Finally, the inspector will be able to give you an idea of what works needs to be done immediately or can be worked out down the road. During the inspection, be sure to request a report with photographs, and a summary of urgent and non-urgent matters.

Finally, a word of caution: Be careful, as there are some inspectors out there who run scams on new home-buyers. Some will give an intentionally poor review to the first property a person buys in the hopes that the deal will fall through and you will be forced to hire them again for the next contract. Their intention is to instill fear in a buyer, thereby creating more business for themselves. Make sure the inspector is restricting his or her assessment to fact and not opinion.

Inspection times can range from 1-4 hours depending on the size of the home being inspected. Inspections can cost anywhere from $350 (for small condo) to $1000 or more (for a large single-family home) and it’s the best money a buyer can spend in the purchasing process. (Some inspectors offer optional tests, moisture, mold, radon tests. Use your best judgment to decide whether they are necessary or unnecessary upcharges. Consult with your realtor if you’re not familiar.) There’s nothing worse than buying a property that looks gorgeous and beautifully painted only to find out when it’s too late that the furnace is old and there are major structural flaws in the home. Once you have an inspection report, it’s up to your discretion to decide which items you can and can’t live with as part of the purchase. In some cases, the solution is as simple as buying a home warranty  to cover appliances or even mechanical/structural systems.

If you have any questions about the home inspection process, we are always happy to help!

Photo courtesy of Indigo Goat