What is a Home Inspection?
In case you are wondering what a general home inspection is about, here is some information that can help you understand what I do. A general home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property performed for a fee, which is designed to identify defects within specific systems and components defined by the Standards of Practice that are both observed and deemed material by the home inspector. Inspection reports may include additional comments and recommendations (check out the House and Condo Inspection report samples on this website). For any Real Estate Inspection the certified home inspector will take a significant number of pictures and will be included in the home inspection report. The Home Inspection Report will be emailed to the client within 24 hours.
Why should you hire a home inspector?
Buying a home is expensive enough as it is, then why pay a home inspector? Because a home inspection report can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. If significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, you can back out of your offer with no penalty and, at least, you know that the house that you are looking for is not this one. Time to move on and look for another potential home. Voila, the certified home inspector just saved you a lot of trouble. After you move in the house it’s all done and it will be too late to back off. A home inspector will cost you a little bit of time and money, but in the long run you’ll be glad you did it. The inspection can reveal problems that you may be able to get the current owners to fix before you move in, saving you money and time. If you are a first-time home buyer, a certified home inspector can educate you in the home maintenance issues that need attention to make your home safe. Try and don’t skip this important step because it’s worth every penny. A home inspector will provide you with a detailed report that will include pictures and will be delivered as long as 24 hours from the time of the inspection.
How long does a Home Inspection generally take?
A typical home inspection performed for a 2500 sq feet house lasts about two to three hours. For a 7000 sq feet house it could take even five hours. I also had to inspect mansions of 13,000 sq feet or more and that can take more than seven hours. In any case you should be present if you need to ask questions. It’s just better to see the problems with your own eyes rather than rely only on the snapshot photos in the report. For a condominium it will take less time because there is no need to inspect the exterior of the building or the roof. These are usually maintained by the building association and the costs are included in the assessment. I don’t remember a condo inspection that took me more than 90 minutes. Of course, there are situations when the home inspector will have difficulties with some areas of the property such as confined spaces (crawl space, attic, etc) and it will take longer than usual. It all depends from case to case.
Chicago Home Inspection Estate areas of service
I usually work in the Chicago area and the surrounding suburbs that are in about 40 miles radius of the city. Included suburbs are: Franklin Park, Schiller Park, Wilmette, Melrose Park, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Northbrook, Rolling Meadows, Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Bellwood, Wood Dale, Bensenville, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estates, Western Springs, Oak Park, Westchester, Schaumburg, Addison, Huntley, Crystal Lake, Wheaton, Lake in the Hills, Elmwood Park, and many others.
What will be included in the Home Inspection Report?
What we actually inspect are the major systems and components which are:
Roof and Exterior
A certified home inspector in Chicago area will inspect the roof at least from the ground level if the roof is not accessible due to height or other impediments. The home inspector will try as much as possible to get close to the roof surface or at least to inspect it from ground level using binoculars and/or a good zoom lens camera for good quality pictures. If the roof is covered with snow the inspection will have to resume at what is visible (if any) and the report will state that fact. The certified home inspector will inspect the roof-covering materials, the gutters, the downspouts, the vents, flashings, skylights, chimney and the general structure of the roof.
Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace and Structure
The foundation, the basement, the crawlspace and the structural components are all part of a home inspection if are visible. A certified home inspector in Chicago area is not required to remove the interior wall finishing materials or see through walls in order to see the interior structure integrity. Any indications of wood in direct contact with the soil, signs of water penetration, possible foundation movement, damaged framing members will be reported if visible.
A home inspector will check both cooling and heating systems using normal operating controls (using the thermostat). In the cold seasons or if the temperature outside is under 65 F the cooling system cannot be tested because it could cause damage to the AC condenser unit. If the systems are not working properly using normal operating controls the certified home inspector will note that in the report and will recommend that a HVAC professional should evaluate and make necessary corrections.
The condition of the plumbing pipes (if visible), the plumbing fixtures and the components (including the water heater) will be noted in the home inspection report. A certified home inspector is not required to turn on the water in a house because it can cause unwanted leaks or other damage to the system. If the water in the house is turned off the home inspector will check the plumbing connections and note if anything is done improperly.
The electric system is part of a general home inspection. The inspector will check a significant number of electric outlets switches in the house. The certified home inspector will note what kind of service entrance the house has and if anything is done improperly. The electrical panel could hide possible unsafe connections and the home inspector will remove the cover if it is safe and take a look inside.
Attic, Insulation and Ventilation
Doors, Windows and Interior
A certified home inspector will check all the appliances using the normal controls. Sometimes, as the appliances brands and models vary and, if the operating manual is not provided, the home inspector won’t be able to test the specific appliance and the fact will be noted in the inspection report.
You can see some of my home inspector customers reviews on my Google+ page here: https://plus.google.com/+Homeinspectionestate/about