Guide to Getting a Home Inspection in Illinois

Why Should I Get An Inspection?

 It’s a good question, but consider the point of view for a moment. This assumes the buyer of a potential property is asking the question and likely a buyer of residential real estate. Well, let’s assume this to be the case and attempt a best or perspective answer to it!

Of course, there are other scenarios where an inspector plays an important role or provides a valuable service, but that’s a topic for another time. While in the State of Illinois there’s NO current requirement to have a home inspection as part of any real estate transaction, there is, however, a requirement that any Home Inspector within the State of IL must be licensed…and by licensed I mean a license issued by the State of Illinois from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Licensed Inspectors are accountable for standards of practice and ethical compliance, similar to other licensed professionals.

So, let’s see, if I don’t have to have an inspection, then why would I need of get one? Well, you sure don’t need an inspector to tell you what you already know about what you’ve seen, been disclosed, or like about a property. You also don’t need an inspector to give you an assessment of value, municipality code citation status, contractor lien, or mortgage counsel.

So, then why would you need an inspection by a qualified state licensed professional?

I would offer that you want to find out what you don’t know about a property or have concerns about when considering purchasing a property. Home Inspectors generally get to go or will go where buyers can’t, won’t, or aren’t allowed to go to inspect a properties infrastructure, elements, or components.

This means not only do inspectors get time to crawl, probe, test, measure, or observe areas of a property but are also allowed to do so based upon National codes and Standards of Practice. Determination of what’s functional, what’s not, what is deferred maintenance, what is a safety hazard or concern, or what is a defect, major or minor, is part of the value an inspector brings to the client.

This should be accomplished in an objective positive professional manner based upon a set of standards and practice. Personal commentary or advisory and counsel regarding the purchase of non-purchase of a property should never to expressed or offered by a Home Inspector…it’s simply not within the scope of their function nor ethical in nature.

So now, think about it for a minute…who’s going to answer all your questions and concerns about the whole house from the roof to foundation and anything in between or within the property lines? Even a municipality code compliance or sales inspection won’t provide a top to bottom, inside out, and current overall functionality status or defect report.

Your carpenter friend or contractor family member may be helpful during a walk through or visit to the property, but they are not allowed to do or perform an inspection as a licensed professional in the state.

A good home inspection should answer more questions than would be raised or left unanswered. Peace of mind is part of a deliverable that a Home Inspector should provide you while differentiating major vs. minor defects, maintenance needs [deferred or otherwise], and product recalls and/or safety hazards.

While the interests of the buyer may be extended to determine defects and assist them with price negotiations, the inspector’s focus is be unbiased, neutral, and objective reporting of their findings, recommendations.home inspection illinois

How to find a good Home Inspector?

 How do you find a good contractor, or mechanic, or doctor?  Think about it, you get names from a variety of resources including  friends, relatives, the Internet, professional associations, etc.  It’s really no different with Home Inspectors, however, let me offer the following.

First, in the State of Illinois there is a requirement that a Home Inspector be licensed and be in good standing or status with the State’s Division of Professional Regulation [http://www.idfpr.com/dpr].  You can check out any Home Inspector by his/her name or business.

Second, like any other business you would want to know if there’s any claims or complaints, pending or otherwise, by checking with the State’s or Local Better Business Bureau [http://chicago.bbb.org].  Some businesses are members while others aren’t, but what you’re looking for is a negative history, if any.

Third, is the Inspector’s certification and education background or credentials.  Home Inspectors in the State of Illinois must take at least 6 hours of Continuing Education annually to maintain their licenses.  Many Inspectors strive to further educate themselves either “deeper” into core competencies or to seek ancillary or other certifications whereby their potential for additional revenue or services increases.

Generally, it takes time to achieve numerous certifications or additional licensing, but this is an indication of time in business, experience, commitment to the trade/industry, and savvy or expertise.

A word of caution, you can find extremely educated and diligent inspectors without a broad base of additional certifications or licensing in many other non-core competencies, however, you’d likely need someone’s help to identify them based upon reputation or proven client satisfaction.


Fourth, is the Inspectors membership or affiliation in professional associations.  This is indicative of on-going commitment, professional association with fellow peers or related other professionals within an industry or trade, and alignment with organizations that share common vision and values.

While there are many different Associations out there nationally and locally, what really matters is whether the Inspector belongs to one or some and if they’re in good standing with that organization.  Many different Inspector Associations have varying levels of certification, status, and attainment.

Additional information is generally available on Inspectors via web sites such as IHIA, ASHI, NACHI, NAHI, MORe, etc.

Fifth, is hiring someone with insurance coverage and able to prove it.  Errors & Omissions and General Liability insurance coverage should be a high priority for anyone hiring a Home Inspector.  Why?

Clients or their agents, are deemed to be associated with the hiring of a contractor to do work for them, thereby extending responsibilities for that contractors possible damages to a property being inspected.  Additionally, the client should feel comfortable knowing that the Inspector is reputable and provides coverage regarding any Errors or Omissions that may result from their service or lack thereof.

The best coverages should include extension of coverage to or for referring agents.

Last, is simply getting recommendations and referrals from trusted resources.  Attorneys, Realtors, and Mortgage Brokers all generally have a list of known reputable Home Inspectors that have proven track records and high client satisfaction feedback or appreciation.

Home Inspectors should be professional in terms of appearance and communication skills.  Being able to articulate clearly and effectively is key to a clients service success and comprehension of the facts, opinions, and guidelines provided by an Inspector.

If you’re left with more questions after an inspection, then you’ve probably hired the wrong Inspector and you likely didn’t achieve any peace of mind.bad home inspection

How to Deal with a Bad Home Inspection Report

When buying a home, hiring a certified home inspector (Illinois house inspectors are licensed through IDFPR) to give the place a once-over is a must. To the untrained eye, problems with the home’s structure or systems such as an ineffective exhaust vent or bad electrical wiring can be virtually impossible to detect.

And while you might not be able to tell if the grade of the house is off, you’ll sure notice when there are fish swimming around in your basement after the next big rainfall!

Home inspectors are often just a precautionary matter, since a seller should be aware of and disclose any serious defects ahead of time.

But what should you do when a bad home inspection report makes your dream home suddenly seem more like a nightmare?

Here are some tips on dealing with a bad home inspection report:

  • Don’t panic. Almost no home is perfect. Most will have issues that come up on home inspections – even new ones.
  • Do your homework. Get as much information as you can from the inspector – especially if you were not able to accompany him during his walk-through (although we strongly encourage you to be present during the inspection).
  • Go through the home inspection report with your REALTOR to decide which defects are minor and which ones are major.
  • If there are major items that need to be addressed, you can ask the seller to:
    • fix the items on your list,
    • fix only the most serious items,
    • provide a cash credit at closing, or
    • reduce the sales price.
  • While it might be tempting to hand over a to do list to the seller, sometimes you are better off making your own repairs.

Example:
“When I bought our house, the basement had a lot of cracks in it. I should have asked for a credit but instead asked the seller to repair it. I believe he literally walked around with a can of spackle and slapped it on every crack.”

Gee, how helpful… Learn from my mistake.

For that very reason, many buyers ask the seller to provide a credit at closing to make repairs themselves. No one – buyer or seller – is happy to see a bad inspection report. But it’s also not the end of the world.

Remember, everything is negotiable. Stay positive and don’t let a bad inspection ruin your day – or your deal.

**Nothing on this website should be confused with financial or legal advice. If you need this, or any other type of advice, please seek the help of a competent professional. In addition, because real estate laws change all the time and differ from state to state, and even city to city in the same state, everything in these pages should be considered general marketing advice and ideas. Please see link to full Disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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