Buying a House
Inspect before you buy!
Whether you are buying your first home or your fifth home, buying a new construction or a 40-year-old home, keep these things in mind as you shop.
- Is the house in move-in ready condition?
- Are minor repairs needed?
- Is the home a "fixer-upper"?
- Does the house need a complete rehab?
As you go through the home, make notes of what you would like to do (paint, hang window treatments, replace carpet, sand wood floors, replace storm doors, etc.) Of course, some things are decorative and are discretionary, depending on your personal taste. Other aspects of the home, however, must work properly or be in good condition to ensure a well-maintained, sound home. Make sure you look at:
- Roof: is it flat or pitched/shingled? What is its age? Are there any overlays of shingles? Has the house been re-roofed? Is there evidence of a leak (discolored marks on ceiling or in room corners)?
- Electrical system: how old is the wiring? Does the system offer enough amperage for central air, an electric clothes dryer, or a freezer? Is there electric service to the garage?
- Heating system: how old is the system? Is it energy-efficient? Are the wall and the attic of the home insulated? Are the heat ducts underground or overhead?
- Water heater: how old is it? Is it energy-efficient? What is the capacity (30 or 50 gallon)? Does the size suit your needs?
- Tuck pointing: are there cracks in the mortar, discoloration or mold?
- Driveways & walkways: are they cracked or sunken below grade level?
- The foundation: are there any cracks in the walls?
- Windows: are they metal or wood? Is there evidence of water damage or mold? Are there storm windows? If the glass is double-pane, is the seal broken (condensation between the window panes)?
- Gutters: is there evidence that water leaks behind the gutters onto the fascia: are they painted over or do they have spark marks on them? Do the light switches work the lights? Do the vent fans work?
- Plumbing: do faucet handles or drain pipes leak? Is there sufficient water pressure? Are there shut-off valves to the water and gas-supplied appliances?
- In general: are there cracks and/or holes in the walls or ceiling? Are the floor covers torn, buckled or ripped? Are there screens for windows that open?
What about the yard?
Once you look over the interior of the home, you need to consider the outside yard areas, too. Look at how the property is graded. Does water flow away from the building? What is the location of the house on the block (highest or lowest point)? Is a sewer clean-out installed? Where are the property lines and any easements? Also check any trees or bushes that are dying, diseased, or dead. And, check if there are outside lights and outlets on the home, and if there are streetlights in the area.
What does the Village inspector look for during a re-occupancy inspection?
The Building Department inspectors perform an inspection whenever there is a change of occupancy in a dwelling.
This inspection is a very general one, compared to how detailed your inspection as a buyer should be. The Building Department inspects the home only to ensure that it meets the minimum housing code requirements of a habitable dwelling. (Minimal housing standards can be found in the Document Center located on this website, under Municipal Code of Ordinances - Section 18.)
The inspection is a visual, functional inspection. An inspector will check to see that sinks, tubs, water faucets, switches, cover plates, smoke alarms, doors and windows are present and in proper working order. Additional areas of inspection include identifying the required shut-off valves for gas ranges, water heaters and furnaces, and the checking of drainpipes. also check the yards, house, driveway and walkways.
If a severe condition exists, the Building Department can request certification that the faulty system or item has been checked by a licensed -- and Village of Park Forest registered - plumber, electrician, roofer, etc., to ensure its proper operation.
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you will make. If you need more than a 15 or 20 minute walk-through of the house, ask for additional time. The Village always recommends the "buyer beware" approach to purchasing a home. You may be more comfortable having a friend or relative review the property with you. This double check may prove to be to your advantage.
A buyer can also hire, at their own expense, a private professional company to perform an inspection. Private inspections cannot be used for village-required inspections.