Buying a home is likely one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. When you’re looking at homes in the Chicagoland area, it’s important to carefully evaluate each property before making an offer. One of the best ways to do this is by getting a professional home inspection.
A home inspection allows a qualified inspector to thoroughly examine the physical condition of the home and its systems. The inspector will check for any issues or defects and provide you with an unbiased report. This can help you make an informed decision about whether to move forward with the purchase.
Below we’ll explore the pros and cons of getting a professional home inspection on a property in the Chicagoland region. We’ll also look at what’s included in these inspections, average costs, and tips for choosing the right home inspector.
The Pros of Getting a Home Inspection in Chicagoland
There are many potential benefits to getting a professional Home Inspections in Chicagoland completed before finalizing a home purchase. Here are some of the key pros:
Gain Insights on the Home’s Condition
The main advantage of a home inspection is the detailed insights you’ll get into the current condition of the home. While your real estate agent may point out visible issues, an inspector has the training and tools to conduct a deeper examination.
They will thoroughly inspect all areas of the home—from the roof, exterior, and foundation to the electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other systems. You’ll get a better understanding of what shape the home is really in and if there are any hidden defects.
Identify Major Repairs Needed
In addition to giving you a general condition overview, the inspection report will highlight any significant repairs that are recommended. This may include things like replacing the roof, updating worn electrical wiring, or fixing foundation cracks.
Knowing about major issues upfront allows you to make repair requests or adjust your offer price accordingly. It also helps you avoid potentially nasty and costly surprises down the road after you’ve purchased the home.
Negotiate Repairs or Price
Speaking of your offer, the inspection results give you an objective third-party assessment that holds some clout in negotiations with the seller. You can request that certain repairs are made prior to closing. Or you may ask for a price reduction if expensive issues are uncovered.
Either way, you’re in a much stronger position going into negotiations when you have a professional home inspection report on hand.
Peace of Mind in Your Decision
Ultimately, a home inspection report provides you with greater confidence that you’re making the right decision. While no house is perfect, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re aware of any existing defects and can properly budget for future repairs and maintenance costs.
Rather than buying blindly, you can make an offer knowing you have the facts around the home’s condition. This makes it much easier to move forward with your purchase knowing the home is sound.
The Potential Cons of a Home Inspection
While home inspections certainly have benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider:
Adds Another Cost
The main drawback is that a professional inspection isn’t free. A typical cost range is $300-$500 depending on the size of the home, with additional fees for things like mold, radon, or sewer scope inspections. This is an extra upfront cost on top of the expenses you’re already paying for the home purchase.
However, considering the value detailed inspection reports provide—especially surfacing expensive repairs—the cost is usually money well spent. Think of it as a small investment to protect your much larger investment in the home.
It’s important to remember that while thorough, home inspections aren’t foolproof. Issues can still be missed or not detectable during the inspection for various reasons. Home inspectors can’t see behind walls or under floors, for example.
You shouldn’t expect the inspection to uncover every single thing that might ever go wrong in the future. But a qualified inspector will do their due diligence in examining all accessible systems, looking for red flags, and reporting anything of concern.
May Lead to Requesting Concessions
If an inspection does turn up issues that need correcting, you’ll need to negotiate repairs or credits with the seller. They may not agree to all your requests. Back and forth could delay the home closing date.
However, it’s always better to identify problems upfront rather than after you’ve purchased the home. Negotiating some fixes or price concessions is typically worth it for the peace of mind of knowing what you’re getting into. Just factor some extra time into the closing schedule in case requests need to be negotiated.
READ MORE: How A Home Inspection Protects You
Doesn’t Check Everything
Another limitation is that standard home inspections only focus on the physical structure and systems. They don’t involve testing things like checking for lead paint risks, mold, radon, water purity, and pests which require additional specialized tests.
If you have concerns around these items, you’ll need to arrange for extra inspections, which will add more costs. Make sure to communicate any additional tests you want performed to your inspector.
Overall while no inspection is 100% comprehensive, a general home inspection still provides immense value for making an informed home buying decision. The benefits will usually outweigh the small downsides.
What’s Inspected in a Professional Home Inspection?
So exactly what does a professional home inspection cover? Here’s an overview of the major systems and areas that will be examined:
- Roof – Shingles/tiles, flashing, gutters, visible structure
- Exterior – Siding, trim, paint, decks, patios, drainage
- Foundation – Foundation walls, framing, ventilation
- Basement/Crawl Space – Structural issues, moisture, insulation
- Plumbing – Water lines, drainage, water heater, fixtures
- Electrical – Breaker panel, wiring, outlets, lighting, security system
- Heating/Cooling – Furnace, heat pump, ductwork, AC, flues
- Insulation – Present and condition in walls, attic, floors
- Ventilation – Bathroom/kitchen fans, venting, exhaust
- Interiors – Walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, railings
- Attic – Framing, ventilation, insulation
- Garage – Siding, roof, opener, walls, doors
- Built-in Appliances – Ovens, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers
Reputable home inspectors will check all accessible areas and systems. They’ll use equipment like moisture meters, outlet testers, and infrared cameras. Expect the inspection to take 2-3 hours for the average single family home up to 8 hours for larger luxury homes.
The result is a comprehensive written report detailing the condition of the home. It will call out any recommended repairs and denote the urgency from safety concerns to more discretionary improvements.
Average Costs of Home Inspections in Chicagoland
Home inspection costs can vary across the Chicagoland area based on the company, inspector experience, and square footage of the property.
According to HomeAdvisor, as of 2023 the average cost range for a standard home inspection in Chicago runs $350-$500 for a typical single family home between 2,000-3,000 square feet.
For smaller homes under 2,000 sq ft, expect closer to $300-$400. Larger luxury homes over 5,000 sq ft may run $600-$800. Additional specialized tests like sewer scopes typically add $100-$300 each.
When researching home inspectors, look for ones who are licensed in Illinois and carry errors and omissions insurance. Property inspection licensing became mandatory in Illinois starting in 2012. Reputable inspectors will also have certifications from InterNACHI or ASHI.
Check reviews and ask about what’s covered in their inspections. Look for detailed reports with photos that provide great insights into the home’s condition. Avoid deals that seem too cheap—a thorough inspection takes time.
Be wary of any home inspectors who make guarantees about finding all issues. No inspection can uncover everything. But the right inspector will do their due diligence to examine all accessible areas and systems.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Home Inspection
Here are a few tips to make sure you maximize the value from your professional home inspection:
Hire Your Own Inspector
Don’t rely solely on an inspector hired by your real estate agent or the seller. They won’t be exclusively looking out for your interests. Hire your own so you get an unbiased report.
Don’t Skip the Inspection
It can be tempting to waive the inspection contingency to make your offer more attractive in competitive markets. But this is extremely risky. Don’t skip this important step.
Be There in Person
Plan to attend the inspection so you can see the property through the inspector’s eyes and ask questions in real-time.
As the inspector points out issues, take notes on the location, recommended fixes, and your own observations. Photos/videos are helpful too.
Ask About Big Expenses
Focus questions on inquiring about repairs that may require big dollar investments now or in the future.
Get Multiple Opinions on Big Issues
If something major comes up, consider getting a second opinion from another specialist to confirm the finding and recommended correction.
Review Safety Issues First
When going through the report, look at any urgent safety issues first that require immediate correction.
Factor Repairs into Offer
Use the inspection findings to request repairs or factor the costs into your offer price and post-purchase budgets.
Following these tips will ensure you get the most value from your investment into a professional home inspection during the buying process.
Are Home Inspections Required in Chicagoland?
While highly recommended, home inspections are not an absolute requirement during a residential real estate transaction in the Chicagoland area. They are optional, but most buyers choose to get inspections.
In some states, home inspections are mandatory. But in Illinois, it is up to the buyer’s discretion if they want to take advantage of this important step prior to finalizing a home purchase.
Even if not required by law, most real estate agents strongly advise buyers to get an inspection. Many banks financing home purchases also require them.
So while not required, it’s industry best practice to get inspections done. They offer immense value for evaluating a property and making an informed buying decision. Don’t skip out on this critical step.
Key Takeaways on Home Inspections in Chicagoland
To summarize some of the key points we’ve covered around home inspections for properties in the Chicagoland area:
- Professional inspections examine all physical systems and areas to identify any defects. This provides home buyers with valuable insights into the overall condition of the property.
- Major benefits include revealing any urgent repairs needed, negotiating power for credits or fixes, and added peace of mind before purchasing.
- Potential drawbacks are the added cost and time, though most consider this worthwhile to protect their investment. No inspection finds everything either.
- Standard inspections cost $300 to $500 on average in the Chicagoland region for typical single family homes. Additional tests add more costs.
- Hire your own qualified, licensed inspector to get an objective unbiased report that looks out for your interests as the buyer.
- Thoroughly reviewing the inspection report and using it to request repairs or adjust offer prices is key to maximizing the value.
While not required under Illinois law, professional home inspections are strongly recommended to make informed buying decisions. Inspectors provide a detailed examination of the property to help you enter a purchase with full knowledge of the home’s condition. This provides valuable insights and negotiating power to protect your investment in what for most is the largest purchase of their lifetime.