In Chicago condominiums are abundant, we often have occasion to speak with buyers who are anguishing over whether they need an inspection or not. Just like buyers who are purchasing a newly built home, condominium purchasers often feel that it’s not necessary to get a home inspection. The main reason for condos is that new buyers often believe that anything wrong with the unit is the responsibility of someone else – namely the condo association.
In Chicago, condos run the gamut from high rises with hundreds of unit owners to 2-unit condos; big associations with monthly dues and accrual funds, to duplex owners with no monthly dues who split their expenses when they need a new roof or when their siding blows off. Regardless of the size of a condo association, there are reasons upon reasons why buyers need a home inspection:
- Windows – Every condo has windows. And older condos have windows that are leaky, have failed thermal seals between the glass panes, don’t operate or have broken locks, or are the source of leaks into the unit. Who repairs defective windows? You do, that’s who. And because most condo associations require that you install replacement windows of a specific design and manufacturer, the cost to replace defective windows can be surprisingly high. A condo inspection will uncover window defects that could cost you out-of-pocket hundreds of dollars, or more.
- Electrical Panels – Hidden inside a panel could contain wiring defects had been working for years and not up to code or worst and problem waiting to happen.
- Decks – Can be an unbudgeted expense, like replacing 10 decks at a cost of $5,000+ each, is usually taken care of with a special assessment – of $5,000+ per unit owner! The unknowing buyer would inherit a costly problem. An inspection can flush out these kind of things.
- General Items – 2-section sliding patio door with a bad section of thermal glass and broken handles to a defective garbage disposal to frozen casement windows to broken electric outlets.
- Water heaters – In some condo’s they are located in the unit, if they are old they could be leaking or not heating efficiently. Thus if not found, would be a cost incurred the by new buyer later.
Of course, we have inspected condos that were relatively “clean” of defects. However, at least 80% of the inspections we do uncover one or more problems that exceed the cost of our inspection. Thus going without a condo inspection leaves most buyers exposed to unanticipated expenses.