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Getting a Home Inspection

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to Curbed Chicago's tipline.

There's nothing worse than making an impulse buy, only to later notice a not-so-subtle flaw staring you right in the face. Let's try to avoid that rookie mistake. During the negotiation process, a home inspector will be brought in to assure that everything is up to snuff before moving forward. Apart from confirming the current working order of your home, the inspection will clue you in on repairs and maintenance that might need to be made down the road. If the home inspection uncovers any problems, you may be able to renegotiate the your purchase price. A detailed inspection can take as long as three to five hours, so be sure your inspector is appropriately thorough.

A home inspector is a licensed professional who will evaluate everything from the distance to local churches and schools to what kind of garbage disposal you're packing under the sink. The inspection also cover rooms and sizes, closets, structural information, exterior components, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, interior finishes, flooring, appliances, energy and insulation, and the garage (if you have one). You can find an official home inspection checklist (like this one), on just about any home inspector's website.

In addition to the basic inspection, there are a number of other things to look into before closing on your home, like asbestos and radon gas screening and/or removal; lead paint and toxic mold testing; and pest control, according to AmericanHomeInspectorDirectory. Though not covered by your home inspection, these factors can pose serious health threats and should be checked out by the respective specialized professionals. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates the cost of a home inspection at anywhere from $300-$500, but prices vary, so be sure to shop around.
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