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The Top 5 Most Common Issues Home Inspections Reveal in Chicago

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

Home inspections in Chicago almost always turn up some issues. See the most common issues these inspections raise in our latest blog post!

If you're buying a home in the Chicago area, you'll probably have a home inspection done as part of the buying process. During these home inspections, someone will enter the property and take a thorough look at it to see any issues. A home inspection report almost always reveals at least one flaw (few homes are 100% perfect). Most common issues, though, are not necessarily a reason to back out of the transaction.

Here are the top five issues that home inspections reveal in the Chicago area and what you should do if your prospective home has them!

Home inspectors in this area frequently find roofing issues. Example problems include worn-out shingles, leaks, cracks, or even improper installation altogether. Part of the reason this tends to be such a common problem in this area is the inclement weather. Snow, wind, rain, and hail can all wreak havoc on even the best roofs in the business. Additionally, this is a problem area that most homeowners overlook until something goes wrong. Nobody knows they have a leaky roof until they notice some water damage in a ceiling!

If your home inspection report shows roofing damage, don't panic. As long as there's no mold or evidence of significant water damage, you should still probably proceed with the transaction.

However, you can ask the buyer to knock a little extra off the price of the home to cover your cost to repair it (or ask them to fix it directly). You'll want to address that after you move in to prevent any further damage to the property.

Electrical safety hazards are another common finding in Chicago-area homes. There are a few reasons why electrical issues are so prevalent here.

The first reason is that many homes in this area are on the older side. That means many electrical outlets aren't dangerous, per se, but they're not up to modern code. Outlets might not be grounded, for example, or an old fuse box might not have all the current safety measures.

A home inspection can reveal other types of problems like shoddy work quality or DIY people working on electricity that don't know building codes. Many people try to install light switches, ceiling fans, and other electrical things without consulting a professional (electricians are, after all, quite expensive).

Unfortunately, electrical issues are serious, so you will need to address them. However, like the issue above, your best recourse isn't to exit the transaction but rather to ask for a discounted purchase price. That way, you'll have the money to hire a professional to come in and address all these problems.

For homes with fireplaces or chimneys, both are typically sources of problems on a home inspection. After significant use, these develop potential issues. The chimney might need cleaning, or the fireplace might have some potential safety issues. Common problems include bad placements of freestanding fireplaces and missing spark arrestors.

Many people have general laborers come out and install their wood stoves. Unfortunately, many of these people aren't proficient in the fire code, so they typically have insufficient clearance.

If you encounter these problems, you'll probably want to ask yourself if you're going to use the fireplace or not. If you don't, perhaps these issues aren't that big of a deal, and you proceed with the transaction as-is and never turn on the fireplace or wood stove. However, if you will use it, ask for a purchase price discount to make the necessary repairs.

One of the lesser-known building code rules is that the wall separating a garage from the main dwelling must be fire-resistant. The idea is that you'll want to slow down a fire that starts in the garage and have time to get out or prevent it from reaching the main house.

Violations in this area are widespread because sellers and builders aren't aware of this. There may have been some issues in the original material that got replaced with non-fire-resistant material. Or, perhaps the seller re-did their garage and, in the process, used the wrong material.

Either way, these violations are frequently found in home inspections. Like so many other issues, you'll want to get this one fixed, so the best course of action is usually to ask for a discount on the purchase price.

Last but not least, home inspections frequently reveal some water damage. It's not uncommon to see evidence of rotting wood, water intrusion in basements, water damage in ceilings, and more.

Water issues are pretty common in almost any area with a lot of rain and snow!

Unfortunately, this issue is often one of the hardest to know what to do with for your home inspection report. What you should do typically depends on its severity.

If the water damage is minor and from a well-known cause (e.g., water damage due to a leaky toilet), typically buyers elect to proceed with the purchase as-is and then fix the root problem. In this case, the buyer would complete the transaction and then repair or replace the toilet.

For medium-sized water damage, you'll typically ask for a discounted purchase price to perform the necessary repairs.

Finally, extensive water damage may require you to rethink the entire purchase. If, for example, the home inspection reveals water damage that could cause structural integrity issues, you may wish to back out of the transaction entirely as the damage is too significant to repair. You can always put an offer on another home that doesn't have that level of water damage!

Even though home inspections are, technically, optional, they are precious for a variety of reasons. These inspections will give you valuable insight into the quality of your home. When you look through a home, you're probably primarily focused on the cosmetics (e.g., the shiny, new kitchen), but the home inspection digs deeper to make sure you can enjoy that kitchen for many years to come without a significant problem lurking around the corner.

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