By Kevin T. Lonergan, Legal Assistance Counsel, Rock Island ArsenalOctober 9, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. (Oct. 9, 2013) -- I recently helped a client draw up a residential offer to purchase a new home in an adjacent state. While the contract itself was mostly a boilerplate, plug and play exercise, my client was amazed that I insisted that she have five inspection contingencies on her prospective new home. "Why so many" she asked. "To protect yourself and your family," was my reply.
So if you or someone you know is buying a house, these are some of the kind of contracts you will need to sign to protect yourself and your family and give you peace of mind. The following are the types of contracts that you may need to sign with separate inspectors to cover these contingencies.
First, you need a water inspection, even if you do have city water. If you buy a house with water that is unsafe to drink and bathe, you will have a significant expense to bring in water to your home. Even if you have city water, you may have contaminated pipes in your neighborhood or worse on your property that could endanger you and your family's health. If you do not have city water, you most certainly need an inspection to check on the water's cleanliness and potability. This can usually be accomplished quickly and cheaply by a local government or university entity. This report can usually be expedited for a reasonable cost to accommodate the home buying contract.
Second, if there is no sewer, you must have the septic system checked. The system may need costly repairs or replacement, which you will want to avoid. Also legal requirements for the size and specifications of septic systems change and you do not want to find out that after you buy your home the system is not up to code or broken, which could easily cost $6,000 to $10,000 to repair or replace.
Third, you need a radon inspection since this colorless, odorless gas is a well recognized home hazard in Midwestern states. Radon, the third leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according the USEPA, can be mitigated with fan mitigation systems; however once again, there can be a significant cost to mitigate this hazard. You will want to make sure that your radon inspector is a certified, bonded, insured, and licensed by the state you are dealing with to inspect for radon. There have been many unscrupulous and part-time radon testers and radon mitigation contractors that have left many homeowners with thousands of dollars of ineffective systems.
Fourth, you will need a good old termite inspection, that friend of many prospective homeowners who have buyer's remorse. This inspection is critical for even brick homes, since there usually is wood within the prospective home. Plenty of national and local business can provide this service at a reasonable cost and with relatively tight deadlines.
Fifth, you will need a competent home inspector, licensed, bonded, and insured to look at your potential new castle. Even if the home is relatively new, there can be significant problems or issues with heating, plumbing, air conditioning, ventilation, and electrical systems. Also there can be issues with defective or aging wallboard, stucco, brickwork, garage door openers, as well as chimney's and roofs. Even with new homes, mold and mildew can be an issue. In addition, you will want to consider other critters that might invade your castle such as squirrels, bats, raccoons, muskrats, or other animals that have, or could, cause damage and a corresponding need for repairs. You will also want to clearly state in your contract with the home inspector whether he will, or will not, inspect home appliances such as; washers, dryers, refrigerators, central vacuums, and the like. You will want to negotiate for all systems to be operable and in working condition. You will also want to ask about the need for replacement in future years for items like roofs and driveways.
What is the sixth contract you ask? As a legal assistance attorney I recommend that you hire a local attorney for closing to insure that your chain of title or title insurance is correct for your property, along with checking the property for unpaid liens or assessments. Also you may want to ask him about your insurance requirements to include property, flood, liability and umbrella.
With these six contracts in place your home buying experience has a high degree of success and peace of mind. If you have more questions please do not hesitate to call the Legal Assistance Office at (309) 782-1443 to schedule an appointment.