There are few people that have been in more Oak Park and River Forest homes than I; Paul Moroney, a former local licensed home inspection professional, is one of those people. Below are his valuable words for any buyer in today's market.
Home Inspections: What Should A Buyer Expect?
Congratulations! You've just made one of the major financial decisions of your life. Now it's time to affirm that decision by scheduling a home inspection. As your realtor has told you, the contract you just signed provides a limited period (usually five working days) during which you can have your new home professionally examined to identify problems of which you may not now be aware.
If you are buying an older home, simply assume that some issues will need to be addressed. Most problems encountered during a home inspection are small and easily dealt with, though there are occasionally some more serious problems identified.
Even if you are buying a newly constructed home, it is surely in your best interest to have it examined. Any inspector with a little gray in h1s professiona1 beard can tell you several stories of new house deals gone bad because of poor workmanship that was only identified during a home inspection.
Now, let's anticipate some of your questions:
How do I know that my home inspector is qualified?
Since 2002, all home inspectors must be licensed by the State of Illinois and only after a very thorough testing procedure. That said, there are other important questions to ask. Is the home inspector insured, both for liability and for errors and omissions? Some may not be. Does the home inspector work in this neighborhood or community regularly? Houses built twenty-five years ago present different challenges than either new construction or old Victorians. Is the inspector an independent businessman or an associate of a non-local franchise? Either may be acceptable to you... but know the difference. Generally, the independent lives nearby and probably has a better understanding of the homes in the area.
What happens during a home inspection?
Simply put, a home inspection is a structural and mechanical evaluation of the house you are buying, conducted by a professional who must be licensed by the State of Illinois.
The inspection is thorough. All structural and mechanical components of the house are examined unless clearly stated prior to the inspection. Although the garage is included, external systems such as swimming pools, hot tubs and lawn sprinklers usually are not. Specific testing for environmental conditions such as lead or radon gas also is not a part of the inspection.
Also, keep in mind that an. inspector is a generalist. Occasionally, he will recommend further consultation with a specialist, just as your family doctor might refer you to a medical specialist.
Finally, good looks don't count. Nor does age, unless the item in question has a finite lifespan, such as a shingle roof. However, if the refrigerator is a vintage 1970 Avocado model in good working order... that's fine. It works. The inspector is looking for problems... not good decorating sense.
The inspection is visual. Some conditions may limit the scope of an inspection. For instance, if the roof is snow-covered, there's no way to determine the condition of the shingles. Basement walls may hide a foundation crack. Electrical outlets may be hidden behind a large waterbed. Also, air conditioning systems cannot be tested in cold weather due to possible damage.
Is it important that the buyer be present during the inspection?
Absolutely. Even if you've owned other homes, the few hours spent with your inspector will prove to be a valuable learning experience. A good inspector is also a teacher. Follow him/her and develop a dialogue. Discuss problems onsite. You'll come away with a much better understanding of your new home.
Will the seller be present at the inspection?
Generally, no… however, there are occasional exceptions. A meeting between buyer and seller can be an enjoyable experience though a seller may have an unrealistic notion of the condition of his house. Naturally, that's a conversation to avoid.
Finally, keep one thing in mind... be it grand or modest, a house is only a house. Your love truly makes it a great home. May you have many years of happiness!
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