A home inspection is an important part of buying a property — but there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about this important process! 

It’s time to separate fact from fiction! Let’s dive the truth behind seven of the most common home inspection myths:

MYTH #1: “A Home Inspection Is the Same Thing as an Appraisal.”

You may hear some people incorrectly use the phrase “home inspection” and “home appraisal” interchangeably. In reality, these are entirely different processes which have entirely different goals, serve different parties, and use entirely different “toolkits.”

A home appraisal is a professional appraiser’s independent evaluation of the current market value of a property, based on the condition of the property, as well as local market conditions in the area (specifically, the prices at which nearby properties have recently sold). Bank appraisals are conducted to provide an estimated market value of the property to a bank or mortgage lender, so that the institution can determine how much it can loan to the buyer. 

A home inspection, in contrast, is meant to assess structural and mechanical concerns, look for potential safety hazards, and take note of the conditions of a home’s major systems and their respective components before the property changes hands. Having a home inspection performed can help buyers and sellers  move forward in their real estate transaction with confidence.

MYTH #2: “Anyone With Building or Construction Experience Can Perform My Home Inspection.”

Lots of people have expertise on homes. You may have taken on a few home renovation projects yourself, or you may have a brother or cousin who is a professional contractor. However, the reality is that even the most experienced homeowner lacks the knowledge and expertise of a professional home inspector. A professional home inspector has the experience, depth of knowledge, and specialized training needed to make an unbiased and informed report on the condition of a property. 

Home inspectors are familiar with the many elements of home construction, property installation, and maintenance. They understand how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as how and why they fail. Inspectors know from experience what to look for, and are uniquely suited to interpret what their findings reveal about the condition of the property.

At the same time, buyers and people close to them usually find it difficult to remain objective and unbiased, which can affect their judgment. A home inspector will provide a completely impartial third-party opinion, giving you accurate and trustworthy information that you can explore with your real estate team. 

MYTH #3: “A House Can Fail a Home Inspection.”

While some people will tell you that a home with a number of problems “failed” an inspection, the reality is that home inspections are not pass/fail. 

A professional home inspector’s job is to examine and report on the current condition of the property. A home inspection report describes the physical condition of a property and indicates what components or systems may need to be repaired or replaced. The information provided is to allow the potential buyer to make a more informed decision about moving forward with the real estate transaction. 

While an inspection can offer important protections against buying a home needing repairs that you may not be able to afford, a home inspector’s job is not to tell you whether you should or should not purchase a property.

MYTH #4: “The Time to Have a Home Inspection Completed Is  Before You Make an Offer.”

One common misunderstanding about the home inspection process is when to schedule the inspection. 

Here in the Chicagoland area, the general rule of thumb is that prospective buyers should typically plan to reach out to a local home inspector immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Generally speaking, in most Chicago real estate transactions there is a home inspection contingency included in the contract — meaning that completing the transaction is contingent upon the buyer getting the chance to receive the findings of a professional home inspection. In most cases, an inspector will be available to conduct the inspection within just a few days. 

MYTH #5: “Home Inspections Are a Waste of Time Because They Never Find Issues.”

Have you ever heard someone tell you to skip the inspection because it won’t find anything? In reality, studies show that the majority of home inspections reveal one or more issues worth exploring further.

In fact, data conducted from the real estate information site Porch found that about 88% of buyers used a home inspector’s services for their most recent home purchase — and of this group, 86% of buyers who used a home inspection said that their inspector identified at least one problem that should be addressed. As one buyer put it to Porch:

“The inspector found several things that I never would have noticed, and being able to get some fixed, and knowing that the others existed, was well worth the cost.” 

MYTH #6: “If Your Home Inspection Doesn’t Reveal Major Problems, It Was a Waste of Time.”

When you purchase a home, you should have all the information you can get so you can make an informed decision. That’s exactly what a professional home inspection provides. 

If your home inspector’s report finds problems, you can move forward with that knowledge, or discuss a course of action to take with your real estate broker — particularly if the issues revealed are more major. 

If your inspector does not find any significant issues, you can complete your home purchase with confidence and peace of mind about the condition of the property and all its equipment and systems. Meanwhile, you will have learned many things about your new home from the inspection, and will want to keep that information for future reference. At Windy City Home Inspection, we always say that we don’t just sell inspections, we sell education. Your inspector will leave you with handy guides and a greater wealth of knowledge about your property, which will prove helpful in the months and years to come. 

MYTH #7: “Home Inspectors Only Matter When You’re Buying a Property.”

Whether you’re buying a property, selling a property, or just want to know how to maintain your property, there is an inspection for you. 

While some people assume that home inspectors only assess homes that are under contract, the reality is that home inspectors are a valuable resource to you during your entire journey as a homeowner — whether you are looking to get a pre-listing inspection before you take your home to market as a seller; want to identify issues such as radon, mold, or structural problems that could affect your investment; or need a Property Condition Assessment (PCA) for a commercial property that you own. 

MYTH #8: “Your Home Inspector Should Have Caught That.”

This is a comment that homeowners may hear from a licensed contractor who is working on their property at some point after the inspection. It is important to remember that a home inspector is not a licensed electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician; these professionals possess specific skills and licensing that make them experts in one particular element of a home. Home inspectors, in contrast, are trained to review the entire property as a system, and consider how one component of the house may affect the others.  When problems are found, the 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. 

It is important to remember that there are fairly strict limits on what a home inspector can do. A home inspection is a visual examination of the readily accessible systems and components of a home. This means that the inspection is limited to what can be visually observed at the time of the appointment. While a home inspector may examine hundreds of elements around a property, there will always be components of a home that are not visible without dismantling the system; home inspectors do not perform this kind of testing. While a home inspector may refer you to a specialist for further review, the home inspector cannot perform these in-depth evaluations him or herself. 

MYTH #9: “A Home Inspection Will Make Sure Your Property Is Up to Code.”

While home inspectors are licensed and certified professionals, home Inspectors are not code enforcement officers. A municipal inspection verifies compliance to local codes and standards; a home inspection is more focused on the life, health, and safety of the home’s future occupants. 

While home inspectors may be familiar with elements of various building codes, enforcing local building codes is not their responsibility. Within our Chicagoland service area alone, municipal  codes change from city to city, from year to year. It would be impossible to keep track of codes for every city that we service. 

Get Answers to Your Biggest Home Inspection Questions With Windy City Home Inspection

Curious about what goes into the home inspection process across 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. 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. Click here to learn more about how we have adapted our process to help you stay safe during COVID-19. 

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.