Frequently Asked Questions
What is an inspection?
An inspection is a visual inspection of the property at that time and day, keeping in mind that mechanics do fail, and homeowners still influence the property. The inspection covers the mechanical and structural components and any health and safety concerns. The Real Estate 7.0 Contract specifically outlines those points too. Cosmetics are not a part of the inspection, although most inspections do educate the buyer beyond the minimum requirements. One can always read the Illinois State Licensing Home Inspection Requirements and ASHI or InterNachi Standards of Practice and Code of Conduct to fully understand the scope of an inspection.
Should i have or forgo an inspection?
An inspection is always recommended to protect one’s investment and to know the condition of the property prior to purchase. Waiving the inspections puts the buyer at risk for existing safety hazards and unknown potential costly repairs. Knowing the issues at the property helps one budget for those expenses or decide on different actions. The inspection also provides basic knowledge of all the components in the property, the age of appliances, and basic maintenance tips. Being that a home is the largest investment a person makes, knowledge and peace of mind are foremost in the decision-making process. Is the savings of waiving the inspection fee worth the risks. Click here for another perspective.
What is the cost of an inspection?
The cost of an inspection varies depending on the company. In considering the price, foremost ask if the inspection company carries Errors and Omissions Insurance and General Liability. Many do not. Ask how long the company has been doing inspections and a description of their reporting format. Do they have additional certifications and are they a member of a professional organization. Another good question is if there are any warranties or guarantees offered. What additional services are offered such as radon, mold, and VOC testing, thermal imaging, sewer scope, and more.
Cost should be determined by quality.
What are the most common findings during a
1. Water penetration is very common, water leakage at foundation cracks or roof flashing, this is often not known to the seller.
2. Electrical items, such as GFC’s (ground fault circuit) that do not trip, open grounds, open boxes, and exposed wire connections, as well as unprofessional workmanship.
3. Minor plumbing leaks at sink traps and faucets, inoperable sink and tub stoppers.
4. Loose and leaking toilets.
5. If Radon testing is completed for the buyer and it is found to be high then mitigation is recommended.
What is the number one concern?
Typically, the large ticket repair items are structural concerns regarding the foundation. While a simple crack repair is around $500, significant repairs to a foundation can cost thousands of dollars and may require a structural engineer to evaluate. The other biggest concern is always the roof and any water penetration that may be occurring throughout the property.
Do I need an inspection for an "As Is" Property?
Regardless of the type of purchase, an inspection is always needed. The fact that the home is “as-is” only means someone needs to figure out what the “as-is” condition really is. Unless the defect does not matter, nor the cost, an inspection should be completed. Often “as-is” means that the seller does not know what may be wrong with their home and will not address any findings found by the buyer’s inspection. However, those findings should be considered in your purchase. Maybe the inspection shows minor issues and it is a great value, or the inspector reveals numerous deficiencies that the buyer needs to consider in their understanding of the true “as-is” condition.
What is the number one cause of damage to a home?
Without question it is water. Water damage from the outside shows up as rotten wood, peeling paint, corrosion, settlement, worn roof, damaged gutter & downspouts, cracks in bricks and mortar, worn decking, grade issues, the list goes on. On the inside, the attic could have damaged sheathing, mold, and extensive rot. Water penetration from walls and roof get down into your home in the exterior walls, around windows and doors also causing water stains on ceilings. In winter, ice damming can cause major problems. Your basement or crawl could have considerable damage from water leakage/penetration, causing structural problems. Rotten wood framing, mold damaging basement finishes. And yes, slab-on-grade homes can also have serious water issues, water gets under a slab and erodes the soil, causing the slab to crack and settle.
Do I need a radon test on a slab or crawl space?
Yes! Radon rises through the ground and infiltrates into the lowest livable area through any cracks or crevices. The slab-on-grade is the lowest area. I personally lived in a home with a slab-on-grade in the center of DuPage County and it always had a high radon level when we did routine cross-checks with our equipment. Radon depends on the area you are in and what is below it in the ground.
What are the main environmental concerns a home buyer should be aware of?
In Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, Radon gas is common, if you look at the radon maps for the area, we are in the moderate to high zones. Generally, half of our radon tests come back above the state & EPA action levels, and overall Illinois has a one in four average for high readings. With radon being the second leading cause of lung cancer,
it is best to test.
Mold is always a concern for the occupant’s health, as well as to the structure itself. It is common to find mold in a variety of areas such as the underside of roof sheathing, the basement or crawlspace, under your sink cabinets or wherever water and the correct environment allows it to grow.
Why is thermal imaging being used?
Thermal imaging detects what you cannot see with your naked eye. A house shows up as hot or cold as building components are being scanned. Those temperature anomalies may be problematic areas. Some of the major issues are moisture, hidden sources of moisture leaks, or possible mold. Electrical problems show as abnormal heat. HVAC may show up as duct leakage and could be hot or cold depending on the season or gaps in the insulation that needs attention for energy efficiency.
Why do a mold test?
Mold can be quite harmful to your health. Mold testing can help determine if mold is hidden in your home. Mold releases spores that float in the air and find places to grow. Mold likes homes the same way we like homes warm, made of wood, humidity, and the right temperature. Mold likes attics, basements, crawl spaces, interior of walls, under your cabinets, and more. It slowly spreads over time and may not be known for some time. Mold undetected can cause larger issues to your home and particularly to your health. Mold is especially harmful to children. It can grow quickly and exposure can be harmful particularly the toxin and allergen molds.
What are VOCs and why should i test?
VOCs stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids including a variety of chemicals. Some of which have short or long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations are consistently higher indoors. They are emitted from thousands of products, such as paints, cleaners, pesticides, furnishings, building materials, equipment, craft materials and the list goes on. The VOCs can cause numerous health issues from headaches, nausea, respiratory, digestive problems, asthma, and more. It is now determined by the EPA that indoor air has 2-5 times more pollutants than outdoor air.
What is E.I.F.S.?
Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems the technical name also known as Dryvit™ and Synthetic Stucco. While from the street it resembles hard stucco, it is basically wire mesh and layers of Portland cement, E.I.F.S. is a wall finishing system with a multi-layer application, each requiring proper installation. First, an insulation board is fastened to the exterior wall substrate with adhesive and mechanical fasteners. Next, a polymer base coat is applied with fiberglass mesh and the synthetic finish coat is applied over the base coat, giving it a uniform finish. The concern with E.I.F.S. are the details and the caulking at adjoining material not being connected correctly, allowing water to penetrate behind the wall, causing damage not visible without testing.
What is a pre-listing inspection?
A pre-listing inspection is an inspection completed for the benefit of the property owner before the property is going to be listed. This gives the seller valuable information about their property as they prepare it for sale. The biggest benefits a seller can potentially have is that they have a stronger degree of control over some aspects of the negotiations, repairs that may be needed or considered, and potential costs. By knowing about needed repairs a seller can make an informed decision about what repairs they are and will be able to make. They can then set a timeline for those repairs to be completed that works for them and not be rushed to get everything done before the closing date. Having time aids in the seller being able to research and select the right service professional, which can be a huge cost saver. This in turn can assist the seller during negotiations as they know what repairs have already been done, what repairs they are willing to negotiate on, and which ones they will not do. Having this knowledge up front prevents surprises or hang-ups that might occur when the buyer's inspection takes place. Keep in mind the buyer may still exercise their right to an inspection regardless of the pre-listing inspection.
All inspectors, based on their knowledge and expertise should find all of the same major concerns, but there will most likely be small differences in opinions and concerns.
Why do a sewer scope inspection?
Simple, no one can see the lateral or sewer pipe from the home to the city sewer wastepipe unless you do a sewer scope inspection. So absolutely, the sewer pipe can be one of the most costly repairs a homeowner can make. Very often no one knows how bad the pipes are until a significant back-up occurs. Hopefully, it is just a clog and easy fix. Large trees in the yard, old waste piping, settled ground, and lush green grass patches are some of the potential problems and/or tell-tale signs. At thousands of dollars to fix, it is a small price for the knowledge and security.
What about lead concerns?
1978 the Federal Government banned lead in paint, so the potential of a home having lead paint prior to that is high. Lead in general, has been used for a long time in many building products and other items around your home, such as lead water piping, decorative paint on your coffee cup, and even toys for children. Lead is dangerous and causes numerous health problems. There are now requirements for contractors to get certified for “lead-safe work practices”. Always use caution, research lead and safe practices before remodeling or doing repair work. Question and hire the contractor that is aware of environmental and legal issues.
What about asbestos concerns?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is resistant to heat and corrosion. It was used in many different products, such as insulation for pipes, floor tiles, and even vehicle brakes. Exposure to asbestos is a health concern and causes a variety of diseases. Asbestos can only be determined by testing. Removal of asbestos is regulated. If there is any possibility of asbestos one should do testing and be removed by all OSHA standards and state regulations.