A pro's POV: A home inspector's take on the market and construction issues

I’m running into more people buying foreclosures or distressed buildings than before — situations where the previous owner can no longer afford their place. Condos downtown have drastically slowed down for me. I’ve had very few in the last month, and the ones I have had were probably a couple years old instead of brand new condos. I think a lot of people are not using home inspectors when they’re buying new condos, because the false belief is that there’s nothing wrong with them yet, and that could not be further from the truth.

As far as common occurrences with new or almost new condos, I do have to question installation work, be it electrical or venting systems, and I see just generally a poor quality of workmanship. We’re not talking nitpicking here — we’re talking just a basic, common-sense approach to the job. That’s where I have to question the choice of subcontractors that the general contractors hire or bring along. And if it’s a very big building, there are issues with what the hell the City of Chicago’s doing with respect to code inspection. Home inspectors are not code inspectors, but there are things we are aware of, and I really have to question those installations at times.

When we look at the city as a whole — the development process, the money that’s involved, and the labor involved — I have no problem with professionally built building, like an Aqua or something on South Michigan Avenue. When there are professionals in there, it’s an absolute dream. But in new places where subcontractors come in, the work can vary all over the place: drywall, the floors, electrical, plumbing. I’ve seen it across the board.

– Patrick Bolliger of the Chicago-based Home Analysis Group.

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