Buying In Chicago's Housing Market: Free Tips about Your Home Inspections

When it comes to the bustling Chicago housing market, making informed decisions is paramount. As a prospective home buyer, understanding the bones of a house is essential to avoid unexpected pitfalls. Home inspectors play a vital role in this process, meticulously examining properties to ensure buyers are equipped with accurate information. In this article, we delve into three key reasons why home inspections might lead to the termination of a deal, shedding light on Chicago's unique housing landscape.

1. The House That Deceives: The Flip Phenomenon

Picture this: a seemingly immaculate house that conceals structural flaws beneath its freshly painted exterior. The allure of flipped houses can be intoxicating, but in reality, they might harbor deep-seated problems. Flipped houses often receive cosmetic upgrades to enhance their market appeal. However, these enhancements might mask underlying issues like chronic moisture problems or structural deficiencies that can significantly impact a buyer's investment.

In Chicago's competitive real estate market, where flipped houses are not uncommon, it's crucial to approach these properties with a discerning eye. While the exterior might boast newness, the bones of the house may tell a different story. Home inspectors in Chicago meticulously scrutinize these properties to uncover hidden problems and provide potential buyers with the insight they need to make informed decisions.

2. The Illusion of Transformation: The Vacation Home Trap

Chicago's neighborhoods have evolved over time, witnessing transformations that can influence housing dynamics. Properties that began as quaint vacation homes may have undergone extensive remodeling and additions as the city evolved around them. These homes may appear bright and luxurious, but beneath the surface, they could harbor a hodgepodge of foundations, rooflines, and structural irregularities.

Buyers need to consider a property's history and evolution within the context of its neighborhood. An experienced home inspector can identify signs of piecemeal renovations and structural discrepancies that might affect the property's value and livability. Unearthing the bones of these homes allows potential buyers to weigh the risks and rewards of such unique properties in the Chicago landscape.

3. Alignment of Expectations: The 20-Year-Old Challenge

Chicago's neighborhoods boast a diverse range of homes, many of which have stood for decades. A common misconception arises when buyers encounter homes that are "only 20 years old." While these properties might not be old in the traditional sense, their systems—such as the roof, deck, furnace, and appliances—can be approaching the end of their lifespan.

In Chicago's climate, with its distinct seasons and potential weather extremes, a home's components can face accelerated wear and tear. An astute home inspector can assess the condition of these systems, providing buyers with a clear understanding of the maintenance or updates that lie ahead. By setting realistic expectations, home inspectors empower buyers to make informed choices that align with their financial capabilities.

4. Unveiling the True Fixer-Upper

Embarking on a fixer-upper journey can be both exciting and daunting. While some renovations are anticipated, unexpected structural issues can quickly turn a promising project into a financial burden. The bones of a house—the foundation, frame, roofline, floor plan, drainage, and access—are critical elements to evaluate in a fixer-upper.

Chicago's diverse architecture encompasses various styles and ages of homes, each with its unique challenges. Home inspectors in Chicago meticulously assess these core elements to reveal potential problems that might arise during renovation. This enables buyers to make informed decisions about the feasibility and cost of their envisioned improvements.

Empowering Decisions in Chicago's Housing Market

Chicago's housing market is a dynamic tapestry of homes with diverse histories and characteristics. The role of a home inspector is not only to identify issues but also to empower buyers with comprehensive knowledge. Navigating this market requires an understanding of the bones of a house—the foundational elements that determine its integrity and potential.

In a city as vibrant as Chicago, where real estate decisions can impact finances and emotions, a thorough home inspection is a critical step. By unraveling the truths hidden within a property's bones, buyers can confidently traverse the housing market, making choices that align with their goals and expectations. Whether it's a flipped house, an evolving vacation home, a 20-year-old property, or a fixer-upper, Chicago's home inspectors are dedicated to helping buyers make informed decisions that pave the way for a successful homeownership journey.

Your Essential Kitchen Renovation Checklist for the Chicago Market

A kitchen renovation can breathe new life into your home, enhancing its functionality, aesthetics, and overall value. If you're a homeowner in the Chicago area, where style and practicality go hand in hand, embarking on a kitchen renovation project is an excellent decision. However, before you dive into this exciting endeavor, it's essential to have a comprehensive checklist in place. In this blog post, we will guide you through a tailored kitchen renovation checklist that suits the specific needs and preferences of the Chicago market.

Define Your Goals and Budget:

Begin by clearly defining your goals for the kitchen renovation project. Are you looking to create a modern and sleek space or maintain a traditional charm? Consider the style, functionality, and ambiance you desire. Simultaneously, establish a realistic budget aligning with the Chicago market rates, factoring in the cost of materials, labor, and unforeseen expenses.

Research Local Regulations:

Before proceeding with your kitchen renovation, familiarize yourself with local regulations in the Chicago area. Ensure you obtain any necessary permits, adhere to building codes, and comply with any specific requirements set forth by the city or neighborhood associations.

Find a Reliable Contractor:

Choosing the right contractor is crucial for a successful kitchen renovation. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors who have recently completed similar projects in the Chicago area. Look for experienced contractors who understand the unique demands of the local market and can deliver high-quality craftsmanship within your budget and timeline.

Optimize Layout and Functionality:

Chicago homeowners often appreciate functional and efficient kitchen spaces. Work closely with your contractor to optimize the layout of your kitchen. Maximize storage space, ensure seamless workflow between the main kitchen areas, and consider incorporating practical features such as a kitchen island or a pantry to cater to the unique needs of your household.

Select Durable and Stylish Materials:

Regarding material selection, the Chicago market favors a combination of durability and style. Choose high-quality materials that can withstand the test of time and frequent usage while still offering an aesthetically pleasing look. Consider options like granite or quartz countertops, hardwood or tile flooring, and quality cabinetry that complement your kitchen's overall design theme.

Embrace Energy Efficiency:

The environmentally conscious ethos of Chicagoans makes energy-efficient appliances and fixtures highly sought after in the market. Opt for ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, LED lighting, and water-saving fixtures to reduce your ecological footprint and lower utility bills.

Incorporate Chicago-Inspired Design Elements:

To infuse a touch of local flavor into your kitchen renovation, consider incorporating design elements inspired by the beautiful city of Chicago, from subtle nods to iconic architecture, such as clean lines and minimalist finishes, to displaying art pieces or photographs showcasing the city's rich cultural heritage, let your kitchen reflect the vibrant spirit of the Windy City.

Enhance Natural Light:

Chicago's skyline and lakefront views are renowned, and residents often cherish the city's abundant natural light. Maximize the amount of natural light in your kitchen by strategically placing windows, skylights, or glass doors. The overall ambiance is enhanced, and this helps conserve energy during daylight hours.

Focus on Storage Solutions:

With the Chicago market's emphasis on practicality, storage solutions are pivotal in kitchen renovations. Incorporate intelligent storage solutions such as pull-out shelves, deep drawers, and vertical organizers to optimize space utilization and keep your kitchen clutter-free.

Consider Smart Technology Integration:

Chicago homeowners embrace technological advancements, and integrating intelligent features into your kitchen can enhance convenience and efficiency. Explore options like smart appliances, automated lighting systems, and voice-activated controls to streamline your kitchen experience.

In Conclusion, if you're embarking on a kitchen renovation to your Chicago kitchen, know it takes careful planning and attention to detail. By following this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure a successful project that meets your unique needs and aligns with the local market's preferences. From defining your goals and budget to selecting durable materials and incorporating energy-efficient solutions, each step brings you closer to achieving the kitchen of your dreams. This space beautifully combines style, functionality, and the unmistakable essence of Chicago.

Add The Most Value To  Your Home In Chicago

Regarding home renovations, homeowners in Chicago often look for projects that enhance their living spaces and add significant value to their properties. Whether you plan to sell your home shortly or want to enjoy the benefits of a well-improved living space, particular renovations can yield a higher return on investment. In this article, we will explore eight home renovations that add substantial value to homes in the Chicago area.

Kitchen Remodeling:

In the heart of every home, the kitchen reigns supreme. A well-designed and updated kitchen can instantly capture the attention of potential buyers. A kitchen can offer a significant return on investment in Chicago, where culinary culture is vibrant. Focus on modernizing the appliances, upgrading countertops and cabinets, and adding functional storage space to create a beautiful and efficient kitchen that will stand the test of time.

Bathroom Upgrades:

Bathrooms are spaces where homeowners seek tranquility and relaxation. Upgrading your bathroom(s) can significantly increase the value of your Chicago home. Consider replacing outdated fixtures, adding energy-efficient features, installing a new bathtub or shower, and incorporating stylish and functional storage options. With attention to lighting and ventilation, well-designed bathrooms in the Chicago market are of higher value.

Energy-Efficient Improvements:

In an eco-conscious era, energy-efficient features by homeowners are of higher value. Upgrading your home with energy-saving solutions such as solar panels, high-efficiency windows, and Improved insulation can significantly enhance its value in Chicago. These renovations reduce utility costs and make your home more attractive to potential buyers looking for sustainable options.

Outdoor Living Spaces:

Chicagoans love to enjoy the outdoors, especially during the warmer months. Enhancing your outdoor living spaces can make a big difference in the value of your home. Consider adding a deck, patio, or pergola to create an inviting space for relaxation and entertainment. Additionally, well-maintained landscaping and outdoor lighting can significantly enhance the curb appeal of your Chicago home.

Basement Renovation:

Basements in Chicago often offer untapped potential. By transforming your basement into a functional living area, you can significantly increase the value of your home. Consider converting it into a recreation room, a home office, or an additional bedroom. Address any potential moisture or insulation issues to create a comfortable and welcoming space.

Attic Conversion:

Like basements, attics can transform into valuable living spaces. By converting your attic into a bedroom, a home gym, or a playroom, you can add square footage and value to your Chicago home. Ensure proper insulation, lighting, and ventilation to create a comfortable and livable space.

Smart Home Technology:

The rise of innovative home technology has revolutionized the way we live. In Chicago, incorporating innovative home features can significantly boost the value of your property. Install an intelligent thermostat, automated lighting systems, or a home security system controlled remotely. Buyers are increasingly attracted to homes with convenience, efficiency, and advanced technological features.

Garage Addition:

Parking is a premium commodity in Chicago. If your property lacks a garage or adequate parking space, adding one can significantly enhance its value. A well-designed garage not only provides secure parking but also serves as additional storage space. Ensure that the garage complements the architectural style of your home and blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

Investing in strategic home renovations significantly impacts the value of your Chicago property. By focusing on critical areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms, energy efficiency, outdoor living spaces, basement, attic, intelligent home technology, and parking, you can make your home more appealing to potential buyers and enjoy a higher return on investment. Remember to consult with local professionals to ensure that your renovations align with the specific needs and preferences of the Chicago housing market. With careful planning and execution, your home renovations can transform your living space into an asset in the Chicago real estate market.

Just How Good is that Kitchen Remodel?

So you’re looking at a new home purchase and the kitchen is “brand new” but just how well was it done? You’re excited and can’t wait to start cooking up a storm in your new kitchen. Before you pay top dollar for this house and you start unpacking all your pots and pans out of storage, you need to take another look.

Look closely at the cabinets

Get up close and look at each cabinet (the uppers and lowers). They should be straight, level, and properly anchored to the wall. They should all line up evenly with one another as well as the appliances. When inspecting your kitchen cabinets, keep an eye out for any gaps between them and the walls and the ceiling – you shouldn’t see gaps! 

Open all the cabinet doors and drawers all the way. Make sure nothing is in the way and they are able to open fully and close without any problems. The doors and drawers in your kitchen should not bump one another or rub up against each other or any of the appliances. Not only should the cabinet doors and drawers open and close easily, but you should also make sure that all drawers remain on the tracks installed. Inspect all cabinet hardware to ensure that they are all securely fastened and working properly.

Check the countertop

Inspect the countertop, not only with your eyes but also run your hand over it to feel for any seams, deep scraps or scratches, or other noticeable defects. If it’s a natural stone or concrete countertop has it been sealed properly? Look carefully at the caulking that seals all seams and joints, where the countertop meets the wall or backsplash. The caulking should be neat and clean. The best caulking for kitchens is one that is waterproof and mold and mildew resistant.

What about the electrical?

Take a look at all the electrical outlets. Are they at least 2 feet away from the kitchen sink and GFCI protected? They should be! If they are less than 2 feet from the kitchen sink, they WAY TOO CLOSE which is a big safety issue. Outlets should be space no more than 4 feet along the countertop. If there is an island or peninsula, an outlet should be within 12” inches from the countertop and there shouldn’t be an overhang longer than 6” inches above it. 

Look at the light fixtures that were installed and check that they all work. There should be no visible wires and cover plates should be installed on ALL electrical junction boxes (check under the sink and above the range/hood).

Finally, how about the oven and appliances?

If a gas range was installed, you should look at the shutoff valve and the line that was installed. There should be no gas leaks. The shutoff valve must be in the same room and accessible. The line installed should provide enough space for you to pull the stove away from the wall. Try to pull the oven away from the wall. An “Anti-Tip” bracket should be installed to prevent it from tipping forward. Was the cooktop installed next to a wall or cabinet? There should be at least twelve inches between any style range top and the closest sidewall/cabinet. Any closer and you’re creating a fire hazard and you won’t have room for your pan’s handles. Is there a line installed to the refrigerator for ice and water? Is the dishwasher drain installed appropriately to avoid cross-contamination? Is the range vent vented to the outside, NOT the attic or another interior space?

Hire an InspectorRemember, you don’t have to be the expert. You can hire a qualified professional licensed inspector to do this sort of review for you. The items noted above are just some of the things that Sahm Home Services will review for you when we do your pre-purchase home inspection. Call today 708.232.8881 or visit our website to schedule your inspection.