Owning a home is an exciting opportunity, and an incredible way to make an investment in your future. Purchasing a home is a step toward enjoying the lifestyle you’ve always wanted, helping your children get into the best schools, or living in a neighborhood that puts you close to work or family. 

For many of us, buying a home will be one of the biggest financial decisions that we ever make. As a result, we know that the process can be nerve-wrecking, especially if this is your very first time buying a property. 

With so many moving parts and complicated elements to consider, buying a home can start to feel overwhelming pretty quickly. When you’re in the middle of the whirlwind, it’s easy to lose track of the whens, wheres, and hows. Fortunately, when things start to move quickly, remember that there are many people you can turn to stay grounded and make it through with confidence and peace of mind — including your real estate agent, your attorney, and your home inspector

If you’re purchasing a home in the Chicago area, making time for a professional home inspection is one crucial step you don’t want to overlook. So, what goes into a typical Chicago home inspection, and when does this important piece fit into your real estate puzzle? 

Here’s what homebuyers need to know about scheduling a home inspection: 

What to Expect From Your Home Inspection

A home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of the readily accessible systems and components of a home. During an inspection, your inspector adopts an unbiased eye as they look for structural and mechanical concerns and potential safety hazards, while also helping to determine the age of major systems around the property including the water heater, roofing, and HVAC. They will try to determine the components of the home that are not performing properly, as well as items that are beyond their useful life span or are unsafe. They will also try to identify areas where repairs may be needed or where there may have been problems in the past.

During a standard home inspection, your inspector will generally observe more than 200 elements throughout the interior and exterior of the home. An inspector typically spends between two to three hours evaluating the property, and may recommend further evaluation if problems or symptoms are discovered.

A home inspection is one of the best ways to understand a home’s condition, habitability and safety, helping you gain a better perspective on the features and conditions of the property. As a result, a home inspection is one of the very best forms of protection buyers can have against purchasing a home needing repairs that they may not be able to afford.

When to Schedule Your Home Inspection

When you’re buying a home, your home inspector will serve as an objective, unbiased expert, furnishing a report that can help you gain some crucial knowledge and make some important decisions. As a result, home inspections are part and parcel of most residential real estate transactions in Chicagoland, and around the country. 

According to nationwide data collected by the home information and services site Porch, nearly nine in ten buyers used a home inspector’s services before making their most recent home purchase. 86% said that their inspector identified at least one problem that should be addressed, while nearly half of buyers (46%) said that they “used home inspection reports to negotiate a lower price on their home.” 

So, when does this important part of the homebuying transaction come into play? 

While no two people will ever have the exact same journey through the homebuying process, prospective buyers should typically plan to reach out to a local home inspector immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed.  

It all comes down to an important real estate term: contingencies. 

Before you sign the contract or purchase agreement, your real estate professional will typically encourage you to make your purchase obligation contingent upon certain things — including receiving the findings of a professional home inspection. The contingency clause will specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated, which can help “protect the buyer” and “make it easier to back out of the deal without financial penalty in certain circumstances,” as writer Devon Thorsby puts it for U.S. News & World Report

“A common contingency in a home purchase contract focuses on the results of the home inspection,” she explains. “If the home inspector finds cracks in the foundation or asbestos or mold, for example,” the buyer will likely want to ask for a financial credit for repairs, or request that the seller remedy the problem. “If negotiations at this stage fall apart,” Thorsby writes, “the buyer can walk away.”

Keep in mind that inspections are not pass/fail, and are intended to provide you with a better understanding of property conditions as observed at the time of the inspection — not to tell you whether or not to buy the property. This is a conversation to have with your real estate team and the seller, with your inspection results in hand. 

Because experienced Chicagoland home inspectors are aware of the time constraints involved in purchase agreements, most will make sure an inspector is available to conduct the required inspection within just a few days. At Windy City, our team of experienced, knowledgeable professionals can work with your schedule to deliver an inspection that exceeds the nationally recognized standards of practice.

At Windy City, our goal is to provide buyers with an education on their property, not just a report. Because of this, we always recommend that buyers be present for the inspection when possible. This allows you to follow the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home, how its systems work, and how to maintain them. After you have seen the property with the inspector, you will find the report easier to understand. 

Making Home Inspections Safer and Easier Through COVID-19

During these unusual and unpredictable times, real estate services in Illinois are still considered to be essential — and that means that the entire team at Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. is still here and ready to serve you, whenever you need us. 

Chicago’s real estate market is still active, and we know that buyers are still eager to find their new homes. We’re here to continue making sure that you are still able to get access to high quality home inspection services, right when you need them. We are closely monitoring new developments and weighing all guidance from the CDC, the state of Illinois, and national home inspectors associations. 

During these difficult times, we have adjusted our process to carefully consider the needs of the community. This includes: 

  • Making sure that all inspectors are healthy, with no symptoms of any illness when they arrive at the property.
  • Practicing strict social distancing at all inspections, with the inspector maintaining a safe distance, wearing gloves and booties, and refraining from shaking hands.
  • Utilizing FaceTime, Skype, or phone calls to allow anyone not present at the inspection to review our findings.
  • Offering hand sanitizer to everyone present at the inspection, while supplies last

Customer service has always been important to Windy City – now more so than ever. We want to assure you and our clients that we will return to any property as needed to go over anything relating to the inspection report.

Have Any More Questions? We’re Here to Help

Curious about what goes into the home inspection process here in Chicagoland? Looking for guidance or insight from an experienced home inspection team? That’s where we come in. 

With Windy City Home Inspection, buyers and sellers can expect a thorough, diligent inspection that never cuts corners. When searching for the right home inspector, it’s important to find someone you can trust — and that’s why we are here for you. The inspectors at Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. are licensed by the State of Illinois, certified, and insured. Each home inspection is backed by our Warranty and Protection Plan. 

At Windy City Home Inspection, Inc., we perform inspections to the highest standards — yours. Backed by a consulting team with more than 60 years of experience, Windy City Home Inspection is committed to excellence. Have a question? Let us help.