You’ve found your dream home. You’ve made an offer, it’s been accepted, and you’re under contract. Your financing has been approved. Only one thing stands between you and closing on your dream home: the home inspection. 

While paying for a home inspection may seem like little more than an added cost to the homebuying process — after all, someone is likely living in the home you purchase exactly as it is — it is actually a critical protection for homebuyers. Protecting yourself against these home inspection “worst-case scenarios” can save you thousands of dollars over the time you’ll own your home. 

Scenario #1: Foundation Problems

Structural issues are by far the most potentially costly “worst-case scenario” a home inspection can save you from. Your home inspector will look at each of the home’s structural elements, including the foundation, crawl space, basement, framing, roof, and walls. Of these, the foundation is the first area of potential concern. 

While most homes experience some settling over time, leading to potential hairline cracks in the foundation and walls, some homes experience settling to a degree that can be indicative of future structural weakness. Your inspector will look at the foundation itself, evaluate whether the home is level, and ensure that all doors and windows open and close without issue. If a major foundation flaw is indicated, Windy City Home Inspection can also refer you to other professionals who can evaluate the cost of the repairs needed.

Scenario #2: Roof Issues 

No home’s roof lasts forever, and purchasing a home with a roof that is at, or approaching, the end of its useful life (generally 10-20 years for an asphalt shingle roof) can mean a big expense for a new homeowner. In the worst-case scenario, a new roof can cost up to $10,000, and the damage caused by a leak can be even more of an expense. 

Your inspector will check your roof for curling, broken, or missing shingles, obvious holes, soft spots, loose or missing flashing, and potential leaks, including leaks around areas where ventilation pipes or chimneys come through the roof. Having a full understanding of the roof’s condition can put buyers in the position to negotiate for repairs or, if necessary, a price reduction to allow for major repairs or a full roof replacement.

Scenario #3: Water Damage

While some amount of mold is normal in any home, especially in areas like poorly ventilated bathrooms, mold in other areas such as the basement, crawl space, or attic can be indicative of deeper concerns. Toxic stachybotrys mold (sometimes called “black mold,” although not all mold that is black in color is toxic), in addition to being difficult and expensive to remediate on its own, can be a mere symptom of a larger issue. Severe mold issues can be caused by flooding that is not properly remediated, cracks in the foundation where water is entering the home, or plumbing problems that are causing water to enter the walls of the home. An inspection will check for visible signs of water damage and let you know if you need further testing to evaluate the condition. 

Scenario #4: Electrical Issues

With building codes constantly changing, it can be difficult for homeowners to keep their home’s electrical systems “up to code.” While a home inspection is not a “code inspection”, an inspector’s report will almost always note some small potential issues when it comes to the home’s electrical system, including inadequately labeled circuit breaker boxes, failure to install required GFCI outlets, or damaged or broken outlets. However, the inspection will also check the areas of the home that are visible, such as the attic and basement, for more serious questions regarding the home’s electrical system, including the worst-case scenario: knob and tube wiring. Common in homes built before 1960, this type of system lacks a ground wire, creating a substantial risk of shock or fire. Identifying this type of wiring at inspection can save a buyer thousands of dollars in electrical system replacement, and can potentially save your life. It is important to note, however, that an inspection cannot check for this type of wiring inside the walls, so if you have a question on an older home, it’s best to discuss your concerns with your inspector.

Scenario #5: HVAC, Furnace, And Plumbing Problems

Like all systems, your home’s HVAC or furnace and plumbing systems have a finite useful life. If these systems are older, or are not functioning correctly, your inspector can note potential failures that can lead to costly repairs or replacements down the road. Generally, your heating and cooling system can be expected to have a useful life of about 10-20 years. Identifying the current condition of your system and its expected lifespan is a key part of evaluating the accuracy of the price you’re paying for the home.

Likewise, plumbing problems can be incredibly expensive to repair, and can lead to conditions, such as mold or water damage, that can present hazards to health. Your inspection will identify plumbing issues and allow you to evaluate potential future costs of replacement or repair. 

Scenario #6: Vermin And Termites

Most homes, particularly older homes, have some pest issues — usually including things like ants or local wildlife. Termites or vermin inside the home, however, are a different story, and can be a worst-case scenario for potential buyers. Termites and other wood-eating insects can cause significant structural damage to the home if left untreated. Likewise, vermin infestations like mice or rats can cause expensive damage to electrical systems and even plumbing, and can be difficult to get rid of. Your inspector will look for obvious signs of active infestation and structural or system damage caused by these annoying pests, and can note evidence of a potential issue to suggest further evaluation. 

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

Curious about what your Chicagoland home inspection might turn up? 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.