Buying a House
The Village of Park Forest has an Inspection Program that includes a visual and functional inspection. The seller arranges for the change of occupancy inspection. Violations that are found at the time and place the inspection takes place are noted in a violation letter that is sent to both the seller and the buyer. At the time the inspector goes to the home for the inspection, anything he/she sees should be working as it is intended. As an example, there is not an ordinance that states a home must have air conditioning; however, if an air conditioner is present it needs to be in working condition. Technical inspections are not performed by the Village inspector. A heating certificate is required to be provided by a contractor who is licensed by the Village. Fireplace certifications are also required. Other certifications may be required, depending upon what is found during the inspection: electrical, plumbing, roofing, exterminating, etc. It is highly recommended that a buyer obtain a private professional inspection to protect their interests.
I n s p e c t b e f o r e y o u b u y!
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? The Village of Park Forest requires a minimum 100 amp three-wire service. GFCI outlets are required within six feet of every water source and for all exterior outlets. Are outlets/receptacle covers painted over or do they have spark marks on them? Do the light switches turn on the lights or are they connected to an outlet? Do the vent fans work?
- 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)? Are there screens for every openable window?
- Gutters: is there evidence that water leaks behind the gutters onto the fascia?
- 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?
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. 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 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. 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.
It is highly recommended that a buyer hire, at their own expense, a private professional company to perform an in-depth inspection. Private inspections cannot be substituted for village-required inspections.