Getting ready for a home inspection here in Chicago? You’re sure to have questions — and that’s a good thing! After all, your inspector is there to be your resource and guide. 

A certified and experienced home inspector can offer some great insights about many of the questions that you’re likely to have about a property; they can also help answer any questions you have about the home inspection process as a whole, from beginning to end. 

Curious about what goes into a home inspection? To help answer some preliminary questions, we have an extensive guide to common home inspection FAQs, available right here. 

But even with those frequently asked questions answered, it’s still important to keep up a dialogue with your home inspector — before, during, and after your inspection. 

Here at Windy City, we often say that we don’t sell inspections, we sell education. Our goal is to leave you with more knowledge about your investment than you entered with, so that you can feel empowered to move forward with confidence and peace of mind — whether you are buying a property, selling a property, or looking for more information about how to maintain your property.

Just like you might prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor during a routine check-up, there are lots of questions that can help you get as much value and insight as possible from your home inspection. 

Questions to Ask Throughout Your Home Inspection

Want to get your list started? Here are a few questions that we always love to hear from our clients here in Chicago: 

1.) “What elements around the property will you check? What won’t you check?”

Sometimes, people are told by their real estate agent or advisor that they need a home inspection, without actually getting a clear understanding of what this process really entails. 

A home inspector will conduct a visual evaluation of a home to help provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge about its components and systems, as well as any deficiencies or potential failures to be aware of. To help determine that a home is safe, free of health risks, and structurally and mechanically sound, an inspector will observe hundreds of items throughout the home, ranging from exterior siding and trim, to the age and quality of your heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. A properly trained inspector is unbiased and will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect another. 

An inspector typically spends between two to three hours evaluating the home, and may recommend further evaluation if problems or symptoms are discovered. However, it’s important to keep in mind that an inspection has limits. Generally speaking, inspectors can only examine visible home elements; they cannot dismantle a system or test out components that are inaccessible.

Do not assume you know what the inspector can do for you based on what you hope or want them to do for you. Instead, ask questions about the home elements that you’re interested in, so you can get a better overview of what to expect before you move forward.

2.) “Is it possible to see a sample report?”

As we mentioned, a typical home inspection will cover hundreds of home elements. That can be daunting to dive into alone, especially if you’re not sure exactly how to read the inspector’s report. 

Before your inspection, don’t hesitate to ask your inspector for a sample report for a similar property type. This can be a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with the relevant paperwork, while also giving you some insight into what elements your inspector will be observing and what they’ll be looking for. 

You can find our sample single-family home and condo reports online, here. 

3.) “Who should be present for the home inspection?”

Not positive about what goes into the “day of” for a typical Chicago home inspection? Your inspection company should be able to answer all of your practical questions with ease — ranging from who should be on site for the inspection, to what to do in case of snow or inclement weather. 

This is all particularly important right now, during COVID-19. At this time, your inspector should be able to help give you the information you need to stay as safe as possible throughout the process — including whether it would be better to review findings over FaceTime, Skype, or by phone rather than in person. 

4.) “Can you explain what that means?”

You should leave your home inspection with lots of new information and a solid base of knowledge — and that may mean taking time to follow up if your inspector says something that you don’t initially understand. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for a clarification or a more in-depth explanation of a home inspector’s finding, or what it may mean for the rest of the home. This includes asking questions during the home inspection, and following up on any remaining questions you still have as you go over the inspector’s final report. 

However, keep in mind that while a home inspector can go in depth about the age of components or any structural or mechanical concerns they find, there are some topics that they won’t be able to discuss. For example, it’s important to remember that a home inspection is not an appraisal, and your inspector is not there to help you determine the market value of the property. Along those same lines, an inspector cannot “pass” or “fail” a house. The inspection is meant to help you make an informed decision about a property, not to actually tell you whether or not to buy it or what negotiation strategies to pursue. Those are issues and decisions that are meant for your real estate broker.

5.) “How do I maintain my ______?”

A home is a significant long-term investment. That’s why, in addition to reporting any deficiencies or potential failures they find around the property, your home inspector will include maintenance tips and other information to help you protect your investment in the future. 

In particular, we know that purchasing a new home may mean encountering things you’ve never experienced before. Maybe you’ve never lived in a home with a basement, and are unsure about how to keep it insulated. Perhaps you’ve always lived in a multi-unit building, without access to your water heater. If you’re unfamiliar with or need information about how to maintain any common element of your property, we can help connect you with the education you need. 

At Windy City, we leave all of our clients with a home maintenance manual covering important topics to know about their new home; we also provide all of our clients with complimentary access to HomeBinder and Home Owners Resource, a free service that gives you access to professionals to ask any questions you may have about your property. This service is especially useful for any maintenance issue that may arise in your home where you would like an expert’s input or suggestions.

6.) “Are there any things about the property that are particularly concerning?”

Of the hundreds of components that an inspector observes, some issues will be major and others will be more minor. For instance, cosmetic issues like a chipped tile or broken door knob may be annoying, but they are usually fairly unobtrusive; issues with your plumbing or electrical systems, on the other hand, could put your safety in jeopardy and cost significantly more money to repair.

Keep in mind that inspectors are there to limit your risk in the purchase of a home; however, they cannot eliminate that risk entirely. An inspector’s function is to observe and evaluate the major systems of a home and report the conditions as that exist on the day of the inspection; an inspector cannot predict the condition of a system five years from now. At the same time, we know that you need more than just a home inspection; you need the professionals you can depend on even after the job is done. That’s why we back all of our inspections with a 90 Day Limited Structural and Mechanical Warranty.

For buyers, a home inspection is your best protection against buying a home needing repair that you may not be able to afford. For sellers, an inspection can help identify deficiencies that must be disclosed to potential buyers, and repairs that may improve the marketability of your listing. 

Don’t let this opportunity go to waste! Be sure to ask your home inspector about things that seem troubling to you, to get their professional, unbiased perspective on any potential issues or concerns. 

7.) “Can you refer me to someone to follow-up on _______?”

When problems are found, your inspector will either offer recommendations of how to repair the issue, or recommend you get a further evaluation by someone who specializes in that field. 

To make things easier, we have compiled a “Friends of Windy City” list, made up of service providers that we have had personal or professional experiences with in the past. Our goal is to refer service providers who will give you the highest quality care.

Have Any More Questions About Your Chicago Home Inspection?

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. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on our superior customer service. If you ever have questions, even years after your home inspection, we will be here to answer them, even if it means returning to your home.

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.