Inspection FAQ

WHAT IS A HOME INSPECTION?
A Pre-purchase Real Estate Inspection is a professional, complete visual examination of the all the systems and physical structural elements of a home performed by a home inspector. Our emphasis is on identifying existing or potential problems that would affect a purchaser’s buying decision.

WHY DO I NEED A PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTION?
A home is the largest purchase most people will ever make. It only makes sense to find out as much as you can about the house, condo or townhome or commercial property you are interested in before you buy. That way you can avoid costly surprise repairs and problems with your new building. Our report will also advise you of what maintenance is required to keep your home in top condition. A professional inspection will give you a clear picture of the many systems and structural elements that make up the property. If you are selling your home or condominium, an inspection will point out any potential problems that might be uncovered later by the buyers inspector. Finding problems early through a pre-sale home inspection will allow you to address them before listing your home, making for a faster and smoother sale.

WHAT DOES A HOME INSPECTION INCLUDE?
Our computerized inspection reports cover all the major systems and structural elements of the house. This includes the condition of the homes heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, roof, foundation, attic and visible insulation, walls, doors, windows and all visible structures. Some common areas in a shared community setting such as a condo or town home may be excluded as they would be the concern of the communities association.

DO I NEED TO BE THERE DURING THE INSPECTION?
No, you aren’t required to be there for the inspection. But we highly recommend that you be present. It’s a valuable learning experience for most people and will help you get the most benefit from the inspection. By following the inspector you can ask questions directly and the inspector can explain maintenance tips for specific areas. We feel you’ll be able to best understand the finished report and get the most benefit from it by having been there during the inspection.

HOW LONG WILL THE INSPECTION TAKE?
The time will vary depending on both the size and condition of the home. A 2 bedroom condo or townhome takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For most single family homes, 3 hours is pretty typical. But for larger homes, or homes in poor condition, it may take longer.

DOES A NEW HOME NEED AN INSPECTION?
Absolutely. A professional inspection of a new home, condominium or town home is important. We can spot potential problems early, while they are still easy to correct. It’s especially valuable to arrange an inspection before the interior walls are finished. As building professionals, we may find problem areas where the builder has taken shortcuts or not done good work.

THE BUILDING IS BRAND NEW…WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG?
It is not good business to forego a home inspection on a newly constructed house, regardless of how conscientious and reputable your home builder.
No home, regardless of how well it is constructed, is totally free of defects. The construction of a house involves thousands of details, performed at the hands of scores of individuals. No general contractor can possibly oversee every one of these elements, and the very nature of human fallibility dictates that some mistakes and oversights will occur, even when the most talented and best-intentioned tradespeople are involved. It is also an unfortunate aspect of modern times that some builders/developers do not stand behind their workmanship and may not return to fix or replace defective components installed after the sale is complete.

…BUT THE MUNICIPAL CODE INSPECTOR HAS ALREADY APPROVED IT –
Often the builder/developer will state the home has been built to “code” and that it was inspected at different stages and signed off by the local jurisdiction. However, building codes are frequently “minimum in nature” — that is, the primary intent of building regulations (codes) is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings. The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best — you may want higher standards applied to your dream house. Also, it is an unfortunate fact of the hectic pace of construction, that local building department inspectors are often overbooked with inspections, which results in their spending a minimal amount of time at the construction job site and important details may be overlooked. Finally, jurisdictional inspectors are not concerned with workmanship as long as all the systems and components in a new home meet minimum code requirements.

WHAT IS A NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION?
A new home construction inspection (or “in-progress” inspection) is an independent, third party inspection to ensure that the work completed is in compliance with plans, specifications, and the construction schedule. Once a home is built, many conditions that could have been observed during construction are now covered and are no longer visible for inspection. Often a poorly installed/constructed condition that could have been visually reviewed during a construction progress inspection becomes covered or concealed later in the building process cause a potential financial burden for the property owner for future corrective action. For these reasons, it is important that a home be inspected during construction by the buyer’s representative whenever possible so that any reportable defects can be corrected before completion and transfer of title.

WHY DO I NEED A HOME INSPECTION ON A HOUSE THAT I AM HAVING BUILT?
An inspection on a new home is important for the buyer to level the playing field. As in any job, there are shortcuts and tricks of the trade that someone who is unfamiliar with them can easily miss. A home inspector is better able to see nuances that may not be readily visible to an untrained eye. You also need an inspector to offset the builder’s or contractor’s interest. There is actually quite a lot of information about a home that most people either take for granted or simply don’t know.
An inspection of the house before the drywall is installed, otherwise known as a “pre close-in” inspection, provides a level of quality assurance for the buyer that many builders don’t usually provide for their contractors. This inspection gives you a better chance of identifying and correcting potential problems when they are much easier and less expensive to fix, before they become physically or financially prohibitive, such as moving a wall so that kitchen cabinets don’t protrude into a doorway opening, or moving electrical receptacles so they are placed where you need them.

DO I NEED A “PEACE OF MIND” BY PROTECTING MY INVESTMENT?
A professional in-progress inspection is a great value to a new construction homebuyer because the home inspector will spendwhatever time it takes to evaluate every readily accessible parts of the home they can safely reach and then prepare an inspection report containing their findings. This, in turn, will provide a “fix-it” list that can be brought to the attention of the builder/developer. Additionally the homebuyer has peace of mind in knowing they took the extra step in protecting their investment by helping ensure they are made aware of any overlooked defects.

WHAT ARE THE NEW CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS INSPECTIONS?
A new construction progress inspection by a qualified professional allows the inspector to become the “eyes of the homebuyer” through a series of inspections that occur during different stages of the construction of their new home.
Typically, these inspections are performed at the following stages:

#1 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – FOUNDATION
Performed after trenches and pier footings are excavated and forms erected with reinforcing steel in place. No reinforcing steel to be covered or concealed. Anchor bolts to be in place.
It is recommended to have the professional inspection of the foundation prior to the pour. A follow up inspection will be conducted after the foundation has set up.

#2 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – ROUGH FRAMING
Performed after all framing is complete and before walls are covered. The structure shall be completely weatherized with all roofing, siding, windows, exterior doors and trim in place.

#3 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – SYSTEMS: MECHANICAL / ELECTRICAL / PLUMBING
Performed before walls are covered after all structural, MEP, fire suppression work is completed. All rough ductwork, plenums, vents, rough wiring w/ grounds, capped drain-waste & water lines are in place.

#4 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – INSULATION
Performed after all insulation is in place.

#5 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – GYPSUM BOARD
Performed after gypsum board is nailed in place and before any tape or texture is applied.

#6 NEW CONSTRUCTION INSPECTION – FINAL
Performed when the building is ready to occupy, but prior to occupancy. The Final “walk-through” inspection is checking all visually accessible systems and components such as: heating/cooling, electrical and plumbing systems including safety items such as smoke detectors, stairs, handrails and guard railings, compliance with emergency-egress requirements, and proper installation of safety/tempered glazing within hazardous areas.

…BUT MY BUILDER SAYS I DON’T NEED A HOME INSPECTION –
“TRUST, BUT VERIFY”. It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have the work inspected by an independent third party construction expert. This will help set a tone with the builder and let them know that you expect things to be done properly. Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder.

WHAT IS THE COST OF A HOME INSPECTION?
Costs vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors. A typical range is $350-$650, but consider the value of the home inspection in terms of the investment being made.

The cost can also vary when additional inspection services are requested, such as septic, well, radon or pest inspections. However, you should not let cost be a factor in determining whether or not to have a home inspection performed or in choosing your home inspector. You should consider the money spent as an safety and educational investment that will more than pay for itself. The most important consideration should be the qualifications, training and experience of the inspector.

Let’s put home inspection fees in perspective: If you’re buying a $300,000 house and the inspection fee is $450, that’s less than 0.0015% of the cost of the house! Most real estate agencies charge 3% to 6% to sell a house. That would be $9,000 to $18,000 for a $300,000 house! The cost of a home inspection is a bargain, even if you paid $1,500 for the inspection. If the owner of a house is willing to pay a real estate agent $9,000 to $18,000 to sell the house, is $450 too much to pay to find out the true condition of the property? Remember, you are considering a major purchase and your choice of home inspector should not be based on a difference of only $50 in the fees charged.

It makes no sense to be “Penny Smart but Dollar Stupid” when investing in something as costly as a Building!
Can you actually put a Cost on your family’s Safety or Can you afford Not to Check and Protect your Investment…?

WHY CAN’T I JUST DO THE INSPECTION MYSELF?
You can, but…chances are that even if you are very familiar with home construction, you still don’t have the knowledge, training and experience of a professional Home Inspector. We’ve performed thousands of home and condo inspections. We are not only familiar with all the systems of a home or condominium building, and how they work and need to be maintained, but we also know what to look for to tell us that they are getting ready to fail. But beyond the technical expertise and experience a professional inspector brings, it is important to remember that the inspector remains an impartial third party. If you are involved in buying or selling a house or condo, it’s impossible for you to remain completely unemotional about the property, and this may cloud your judgment. The professional inspector will provide an objective outside reporting of the facts.

WHAT IF THE INSPECTION UNCOVERS PROBLEMS?
No house is perfect. Minor problems are to be expected. All houses age. You need to know what to do after the home inspection. Our inspection report will tell you the condition of the house, including needed repairs and expenses. No house or condo is going to be perfect. It is up to you to decide how any problems the inspection uncovers might affect your decision to purchase. If major problems are discovered, you may want to try negotiating with the seller to have them repaired before closing the deal. Or perhaps the seller will lower the price, or offer more favorable contract terms. In the end, the decision rests with you, but knowing about potential problems, before you buy, gives you the power to negotiate and make the best decisions.

Your Options Are:

1. ACCEPT CERTAIN CONDITIONS “AS IS”
Evaluate the condition of the home and accept the fact that no house is perfect and proceed with the sale with knowledge of the present conditions.

2. ASK SELLER TO FIX SELECTED CONDITIONS
When armed with the cost estimates, you could ask that certain items are repaired before closing. You must also understand that the seller is not obligated to accept terms that
you dictate. Repairs must be detailed as to standards of workmanship and materials. These can add to the complexity of the sales agreement and very often result in arguments and
litigation about terms. Repairs and negotiations can drag out the sale indefinitely, costing all parties time and money.

3. RENEGOTIATE THE SALES PRICE
A seller may adjust the purchase price or contract terms if major problems are found. If the problems are costly you will be able to make your decision about purchasing the home
with the proper knowledge about the future cost of that home. Neither party is required to enter into negotiations of price. Chances are they priced the home with most conditions in mind.

4. REJECT THE SALE
It’s your money. Don’t let sales pressure saddle you with years of buyer remorse. The terms of this sale are in your control.

WHAT ARE YOUR STANDARDS OF PRACTICE?
ASHI STANDARDS
Citizen Architects Inc. adheres to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
We examine the following exterior and interior components of the building:
1. Roofing and Chimney
2. Exterior
3. Structure
4. Electrical
5. Heating
6. Cooling
7. Insulation
8. Plumbing
9. Interior
ILLINOIS STATE LAW
State Law Requires Illinois Home Inspector License and Requires the Examination of at least (2) two of the following:
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system;
Plumbing system;
Electrical system;
Structural composition;
Foundation;
Roof;
Masonry structure; or
Any other residential real property component as established by rule.

WILL YOU FIX THE PROBLEMS YOU FIND DURING THE INSPECTION?
No. The code of ethics of The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) prohibits doing repair work on inspected properties. This assures that there will never be any conflict of interest by the inspector. Our purpose is to provide an unbiased, objective third party report on the condition of the home.

WHAT ARE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE INSPECTION?
All Inspection Services are provided according to the Terms and Conditions described in the Inspection Agreement below:

1. Client requests a limited visual inspection of the residential structure identified at the above address by Citizen Architects Inc., there in after collectively referred as the “Company” and Client hereby represents and warrants that all approval necessary have been secured for Company’s entrance on to the property.

2. Client warrants: (a) they have read the following Agreement carefully, (b) they understand they are bound by all the terms of this contract, and (c) they will read the entire inspection report when received and promptly call Company with any questions they may have, and have received a copy of this form.

3. Client understands that the inspection and inspection report are performed and prepared for their sole, confidential and exclusive use. Client agrees that they will not transfer or disclose any part of the inspection report to any other person with these exceptions ONLY: (a) one copy may be provided to the current seller(s) of the property, and their Attorneys but only upon the express condition that the seller(s) covenant to use the inspection report only in connection with Client’s transaction, and agree not to transfer or disclose the report to any persons other than their real estate agent, and (b) one copy may be provided to the other real estate agent representing Client and/or a bank or other lender for use in Client’s transaction only and (c) Client its Attorneys agents, and brokers. Client agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Company from any third party claims relating to this inspection or inspection report.

4. The purpose of this inspection is that the Company agrees to perform a limited visual inspection of the residential structure at the above address and to provide Client with a written opinion as to the apparent general condition of the structure’s components and systems, including identification of significant observable deficiencies as they exist at the time of inspection. The inspection will be performed in accordance with the Standards set forth in the Illinois Home Inspector Licensing Act.

5. The inspection only includes those systems and components expressly and specifically identified in the inspection report, including: inspecting the structural components including the foundation and framing if visible; inspect the exterior wall covering, flashing, trim, all exterior doors, attached decks, balconies, stoops, steps, porches, and their associated railings, the eaves, soffits, and fascias where accessible from the ground level, the vegetation, grading, surface drainage, and retaining walls on the property when any of these are likely to adversely affect the building, walkways, patios, and driveways leading to dwelling entrances; inspect the roof covering, the roof drainage systems, the flashings, the skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations; inspect the interior water supply and distribution including all fixtures and faucets, the drain, waste and vent systems including all fixtures, the water heating equipment, the vent systems, flues, and chimneys, and fuel distribution systems, the drainage sumps, sump pumps, and related piping; inspect the service drop, the service entrance conductors, cables and raceways, the service equipment and main disconnects, the service grounding, the interior components of service panels and sub panels, the conductors, the over-current protection devices, installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles, the ground fault circuit interrupters; inspect the installed heating equipment, the vent systems, flues, and chimneys; inspect the installed central and through-wall cooling equipment; inspect the insulation and vapor retarders in unfinished spaces, the ventilation of attics and foundation areas, the mechanical ventilation systems and fireplaces; and inspect the system components, the vent systems, flues, and chimneys.

6. Any area, which is not exposed to view, is concealed, is inaccessible because of soil, walls, floors, carpets, ceilings, furnishing or any other things, or those areas/items, and by agreement of the parties is not included in this inspection. The inspection does not include any destructive testing or dismantling. Client agrees to assume all the risk for all conditions, which are concealed from view at the time of the inspection or exist in any area excluded from inspection by the terms of this agreement. Maintenance and other items may be discussed but will NOT form a part of the inspection report.

7. The following areas/items, systems and components are among those NOT included in the inspection: Building code or zoning ordinance violation; systems or component installation; permit research; structural stability or engineering analysis, geological stability of soils, wave action or hydrological stability, or survey; termites or other wood destroying insects, rodents or other pests; dry-rot or fungus; latent or concealed defects; asbestos, radon gas, lead paint, urea formaldehyde, toxic or flammable chemicals, water or air quality, mold, PCB’s or other toxins and environmental hazards, electromagnetic fields; underground storage tanks; proximity to toxic waste sites or other environmental or health hazards; private water or sewage systems; pools, spas, hot tubs, saunas, steam baths, fountains other types of or related systems and components; repair cost estimates, condition of detached building or pools; building value appraisal; radio controlled devices; automatic gates; elevators, lifts, dumbwaiters; thermostatic or time clock controls; water softener or purifiers; radiant heat systems; furnace heat exchanger; solar heating systems; gas appliances such as fire pits, barbecues, heaters and lamps. Main gas shut off valve. Any gas leaks; odors or noise; seismic safety; freestanding appliances, or personal property; Areas owned and maintained by a condominium association are not reported on; (common areas) security or fire safety systems; any adverse condition that may affect the desirability of the property; proximity to railroad tracks or airplane routes; boundaries, easements or rights of way; unique/technically complex systems or components; system or component life expectancy; adequacy or efficiency of any system or component; electrical load determination; items specifically noted as excluded in the inspection report; central alarms/smoke detectors; determining the flooding conditions of a basement.

8. Client understands that the inspection and inspection report do not constitute a guarantee or warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, expressed or implied, or insurance policy, nor is it a substitute for real estate transfer disclosures, which may be required by law. This is not a home warranty, guarantee, insurance policy or substitute for real estate transfer disclosures.

9. The written report to be prepared by Company shall be considered the final and exclusive findings of Company of the structure. Client understands and agrees they will not rely on any oral statements made by the Inspector prior to the assurance of the written report. Client further understands and agrees Company reserves the right to modify the inspection report for a period of time that shall not exceed forty eight (48) hours after the inspection report has first been delivered to Client.

10. Client understands and agrees that any claim arising out of or related to any act or omission of Company in connection with the inspection of the residential structure, as limited herein, shall be made in writing and reported to Company within ten (10) business days of discovery. Client further agrees to allow Company to reinspect the claimed discrepancy. Client understands and agrees that any failure to notify Company as stated above shall constitute a waiver of any and all claims Client may have against Company.

11. Any dispute, controversy, interpretation or claim including claims for, but not limited to, breach of contract, any form of negligence, fraud or misrepresentation arising out of, from or related to this contract or arising out of, from or related to the inspection and inspection report shall be submitted to final and binding arbitration under the Rules and Procedures of the American Arbitration Association except that the parties shall select an arbitrator who is familiar with the home inspection industry. The decision of the Arbitrator appointed there under shall be final and binding and judgment on the Award may be entered in any Court of competent jurisdiction. In any arbitration or legal action in which we are found to be without fault, you agree to reimburse us for any attorney’s fees incurred in any action arising out of this contract.

12. It is understood and agreed by and between the parties hereto that Company’s and its officers’, agents’ or employees’ LIMITATION OF LIABILITY for errors or omissions in the inspection report is limited and fixed to a refund of the fee paid for the inspection and inspection report. This limitation applies to anyone who is damaged or has to pay expenses of any kind because of mistakes or omissions in this inspection and report. This liability is binding on client and client’s spouses, heirs, principles, assigns and anyone else who may otherwise claim through client. Client assumes the risk of all losses greater than the refund of the fee paid for the inspection. Client agrees to immediately accept a refund of the fee paid as full settlement of any and all claims, which may ever arise from this inspection. Client understands that if client wants an inspection without a limit on liability to a refund of the fee paid for the inspection, client may pay an additional fee to receive a technically exhaustive inspection report without the limitation on liability. Client understands that an TECHNICALLY EXHAUSTIVE INSPECTION without this LIMITATION OF LIABILITY is recommended by Company and will include inspection of the property by the following specialists: Roof, Electrical, Heating, and Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical, Foundation, Fireplace & Pool (as applicable) Contractors, Geotechnical and Structural Engineers in addition to the Inspector. The fee for this inspection is Thirty Five Hundred Dollars PLUS ALL RESTORATION COSTS. This report will be completed within twenty business days. Client understands neither inspection includes any form of destructive examination or dismantling. All environmental studies and EPA inspections are excluded. Client declines technically exhaustive inspection.

13. Any legal action or proceeding of any kind, including those sounding in tort or contract, against Company, or its officers, agents or employees, must be brought within one (1) year from the date of the inspection or will be deemed waived and forever barred. Time is expressly of the essence herein.

14. If any portion of this Agreement is found to invalid or unenforceable by any court or arbitrator the remaining terms shall remain in force between parties.

15. This Agreement represents the entire agreement between the parties. No oral agreements, understandings or representations shall change, modify or amend any part of this agreement. No change or modification shall be enforceable against any party unless such changes or modification is in writing and signed by the parties. This Agreement shall be binding upon and insure to the parties hereto and their spouses, heirs, executors, administrators, successors, assigns and representatives of any kind whatsoever.

16. Receipt of Report: The Company’s agreement to perform the Inspection is contingent on the Client’s agreement to all the above terms, conditions and limitations. If this is not signed by the Client prior to or at the time the written Report is provided to the Client and/or the Client objects to any of the terms of this Agreement, Client shall return the written Report to the Company within three (3) days of the signing of the contract, and any fee that has been paid will be refunded to the Client. Failure to return the written Report within (3) days of its receipt and receipt of this contract form shall constitute full acceptance of all the terms of this agreement by the client.

WHAT ARE YOUR AREAS OF INSPECTION?
We serve the City of Chicago, Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Kankakee, DeKalb, Boone, McHenry & Lake County.