Many people dream of owning a second home as a private getaway, a place where they can go with their families for a vacation from the everyday. For others, owning a vacation home is a source of passive income through the vacation rental and home-sharing markets. And for plenty of people, the dream of owning a second home is about having a place to retire in the future, whether that means a quiet lake house in the wilderness, a pied-a-terre in the city, or a condo overlooking the beach. 

According to reports, the second home market has been particularly active lately, with buyers seeking out destination properties that can give them some peace, quiet, and breathing room in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns. Following the pandemic, homeowners and prospective homebuyers are listing more outdoor space and more separation from neighbors as top priorities; as a result, home sales in vacation towns were up year-over-year in 2020, and actually outpaced the national average, according to Bankrate. Other sources like Realtor Magazine and the Washington Post have also noted this second home “surge.”

Purchasing a vacation home or getaway is a dream-come-true for many people — but it’s also important to remember that this is a major real estate transaction, just like any other. Buying a second home is an investment, and it is wise to take every step you can to protect yourself from making a purchase you cannot afford — while also safeguarding your health, safety, and comfort, in the years to come. 

One of the best ways to protect yourself is with the services of a professional home inspector. 

What Is a Home Inspection?

Whether you’re buying or selling a residential home or commercial property, or looking to better protect the property you already own, a home inspection is an incredibly important part of the process. 

A home inspection is a visual examination of the readily accessible systems and components of a home. During an inspection, the inspector looks for structural and mechanical concerns, as well as potential safety hazards. Your inspector will also try to determine the age of major systems around the property, including the roofing, HVAC components, and water heaters. During a standard home inspection, an inspector will generally observe more than 200 items throughout the home with a keen and objective eye. A properly trained inspector is unbiased and thorough, and will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect another.  

This visual evaluation helps provide you with a solid basis of knowledge about a property as well as its most important components and systems. In addition to reporting on any deficiencies or potential failures, your home inspector will also include maintenance tips and other resources that can help you protect the property in the months and years to come. 

Why Are Home Inspections Important for Vacation Home Buyers?

Whether your dream vacation home getaway is a condo downtown or a secluded beach house near Chicago’s North Shore, one of the best ways to understand any home’s condition, habitability, and safety is to hire a professional home inspector.

Home inspections are part and parcel of the standard real estate transaction in Chicagoland — because they’re just that important. In fact, according to stats collected by the real estate services site Porch, 86% of buyers who used a home inspection say that their inspector identified at least one problem that should be addressed — including serious issues with major home elements such as the roof or the electrical system. 

Here are just a few reasons why a professional home inspection company should be part of your team as you purchase a vacation property or second home: 

Gauging future costs and protecting your investment for the long-term

As the vacation home experts at Vacasa once put it:

Buying a vacation home is one of the largest purchases you are likely to make. Use the home inspection to understand the state of the home’s systems, infrastructure, and less obvious conditions… Vacation home inspections can reveal structural issues, like cracks in the foundation or a leaky roofline. Over time, these structural issues invite in water damage, pests, and general structural instability that can be costly—and disruptive—to repair… These risks alone make a vacation home inspection supremely important.

For buyers, an inspection is a way to make sure that your home will be safe, structurally and mechanically sound, and free of health risks. An inspection can be a great resource, helping give you the insight you need to make an informed decision about moving forward with the transaction, in conversation with your real estate broker. 

Weathering the elements

Have you ever seen a deserted house near a lake or river? It can be an eye-opening experience, revealing just how quickly nature can overtake a property without proper care and maintenance. Many vacation homes are in areas that get particularly swampy in the summer, and frosty in the winter — and extreme weather can pose a threat to many different elements around a home, from the foundation to the plumbing to the roof. This is particularly true for second homes, which may be unused or unattended for weeks at a time, since they are by definition not a primary residence. 

A home inspection can help you get a sense of how your home will hold up to changing weather. Before you buy a second home, an inspection can help clue you into structural and mechanical concerns around the property, as well as potential safety hazards to be aware of. For a home that you already own, having your property inspected can help ensure that the systems of your home are functioning as they should be, so that you can keep your home safe, secure, and in good working order. 

Keeping you and your guests healthy, happy, and safe 

Whether you’re planning to rent out or lend your vacation property to friends, family, neighbors, or paying guests, or simply planning to enjoy it with those closest to you, it’s important to make sure that all of the systems are working effectively. After all, you don’t want to have guests trek to your beach house only to find that the hot water heater is malfunctioning, that the windows are jammed, or that the ceiling is dripping with moisture! 

In addition to identifying necessary repairs or potential safety hazards, a home inspector can also help you get a better understanding of what makes your property unique. For example, your inspector can help you find the location of water, electric, and gas shut-offs — which can prove incredibly important when you’re doing renovations or responding to an emergency down the line.

Get Help From the Chicago Area’s Home Inspection Experts

Whatever your biggest home goals, you can rest easy knowing that Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. will always be here for you. With Windy City Home Inspection, you can expect a competent, thorough inspection covering all the bases and never cutting corners.

Whether you’re buying a property, selling a property, or just want to know how to maintain your property, Windy City Home Inspection has an inspection for you.

When searching for the right home inspector, it’s important to find someone you can trust. 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.