DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION?
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime. While Illinois Law does not require a Pre-Purchase Home Inspection, your realtor and or financial institution may require that you have one done prior to closing. If you're already spending so much money on purchasing a new home, you may think to yourself, why should I spend several hundred more dollars on a Home Inspection? Why does one company charge so much, while other companies cost half the price? Let's dig a little deeper.
State law in Illinois (765 Illinois Compiled Statutes §§ 77/5 and following) requires sellers to give buyers a filled-out disclosure form, which includes details on material defects or risky conditions or situations such as cracks in the foundation, unsafe drinking water, disputes with neighbors over boundary lines, past meth lab use, or a termite infestation, if they would affect the value of the property or the health or safety of occupants.
While you may think this should cover you, there are several scenarios where that isn't exactly the case. A seller may be "unaware" of any such deficiency in the home, it may not be legally documented, therefore there is no proof, and in rare cases, they may actively try to conceal serious problems in a home like cracks in the foundation by putting up new drywall and paint.
The Home Inspection Contingency
From the time your offer is accepted by the buyer, you have five business to have a Home Inspection completed. Your first clue that a Home Inspection is a good idea, is that if the Home Inspection reveals any major defects in the home, you can use it as a contingency in the contract with your seller. What does this mean for you? It means you can back out of the purchase offer, without a penalty.
What Will The Home Inspection Reveal?
A good home inspection will give you a complete overview of your home. Keep in mind, the inspectors are there for a handful of hours of one day. This means that the report will reflect the condition of the home on the day it was inspected. If the basements leaks during heavy rains, and the home is inspected on a bright sunny day, the inspector will not be able to see that deficiency. However, they will be able to note if they see signs of water damage on the carpet, walls, ceiling, etc.
A typical inspection will take anywhere from 2-4 hours. This depends on several factors, including the size of the home and the condition that it is currently in. If the inspector is finding many deficiencies, the inspection will take longer.
Your Home Inspection Report should note:
What needs to be services, repaired, or replaced.
Whether a problem is minor, major, or a safety concern.
What to keep an eye on
Routine maintenance that should be preformed to keep your home in good condition
Insight Property Services, Inc. provides each Home Owner with a free Home Binder account after the inspection is complete. This binder provides monthly, quarterly, and yearly maintenance tips. It is also a centralized location where you can store important service dates, contact information of your realtor, plumber, electrician. You can even store your favorite paint schemes. Best of all, should you choose to sell your home, it can be transferred to the new home owner.
Exterior of The Home
Exterior Walls: A Home Inspection begins by checking the exterior of the home. The inspector will note if the home is missing siding, has cracked siding, and if the bottom of home is resting too close to the soil. A home resting excessively close to the soil will invite termites and other pests. Note that a Home Inspector is not a Pest Inspector. A Home Inspector will note if there are obvious signs of pests or termites, but you may need to hire a professional Pest Inspector to determine if there has been structural damage due to termites. The report will include pictures and will note if a problem is cosmetic or if it's more serious.
Foundation: Checking the exterior foundation is difficult because it is typically not visible. However, an Home Inspector will note if there are signs of settling and note any visible cracks.
Grading: The inspection should note if the homes grading slopes towards the home or away from the home. If it slopes towards the home, you will need to either install a drainage system or change the slope of the yard as water could get into the home and cause damage.
Roof: Your Home Inspector should assess the roof of your home (pending safe working conditions) and note if there are missing or loose shingles, cracked or damaged mastic around the vents. Poor installation of shingles or damage to your roof will allow water infiltration that causes damage. They will also inspect the condition of the gutters and note any deficiencies. *A Home Inspector cannot safely assess your roof if there is excess snow or it is raining* Be sure to check the weather before your inspection and reschedule if this is a concern, or have your inspector come out a second time to asses the roof when the conditions are safer (ex: buying a home in the winter, have your inspector come out when the snow has melted or early spring).
Interior Of The Home:
Electrical: The type of wiring a home has will be documented by the inspector. Additionally of the electrical outlets in the home will be tested to make sure they do not present a fire hazard. In the kitchen, garage, bathrooms, and outdoors, they will ensure there are functional ground fault circuit interpreters as well, which protect you from electric shock, burns, and electrocution. They will also note if there are any safety concerns with your electrical panel.
Plumbing: Your Home Inspector will determine what type of pipes your home has if they are visible, and will show where the shut off valve is. They will check all of the faucets, drains, and showers. Additionally they will test the water pressure, and look for visible leaks. Your inspector may recommend a second opinion if the pipes are too old to determine if & when they will need to be replaced, and at what cost.
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC): A Home Inspector will check your furnace and air conditioner to assess their age, check that they function properly, and note any maintence requirements or repairs needed. They will determine the age of your ducts and whether they have any leaks as well. Additionally, they will check your insulation levels to determine whether there is a possibility of asbestos in the insulation, and if your home has adequate insulation to reduce your energy bills.
Water Heater: The age of water heater will be determined as well the condition it is in, it if has been secured and installed properly, and how many years it has left.
Laundry: The home inspector will make sure that the laundry room is properly vented and let you know of any problems with the dryer exhaust system, which can be a serious fire hazard.
Bathrooms: Your Inspector will check for and note any visible leaks, make sure that the toilet is properly secured, and check for adequate ventilation. Without a proper ventilation fan or a window (for older homes) you run the risk of mildew and mold in the bathroom, the moisture can also warp the wood cabinets overtime.
Kitchen Appliances: Your kitchen appliances should be checked in a standard home inspection, regardless of whether you are planning on keeping them or not. They should be inspected to make sure they work properly, and the inspector should take a picture of the appliance and the serial number. This way you can input that information into your Home Binder account to see if there are any recalls on those appliances.
Fire Safety: If your garage is attached to your home, the inspector will make sure that the wall has not been damaged in any way that could compromise it's fire rating. They will also test the fire detectors to make sure they are functioning properly.
What Does a Home Inspection Not Cover?
To put it frankly, Home Inspectors cannot see behind walls. They will look for and identify visual cues to problems. Home Inspectors cannot cut open drywall or insulation, they cannot look inside sewer pipes, they cannot look inside of chimneys or inside of electrical panels.