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The Essentials of a Condo or Townhouse Home Inspection

  • 10 min read

Condos. Townhomes. Apartments.

Unlike traditional single family homes that are their own independent structure, when purchasing a condo or townhouse you are buying part small of a larger building structure in which often you have no responsibility or control over its care and maintenance. This means no matter how clean and well maintained your part of the building is, if the condo association or building management does not care properly for the communal aspects of the building, your properties value, safety, and continued longevity as a home could be affected or compromised. To ensure you’re choosing the right condo or townhouse that will continue to provide value to you and your family, it’s crucial to have a thorough home inspection to ensure you’re making an informed decision. A professional home inspector will meticulously evaluate various aspects of the whole condo or townhouse property, including all accessible communal areas, as well as a general evaluation of the buildings exterior to provide you with a comprehensive assessment or not only your new condo or townhome, but for the building as a whole. Knowing whether or not you are purchasing a property in a building with years of deferred maintenance and neglect can help save you down the line from financial stressors like: raised HOA fees, unexpected repairs inside your unit, or high priced association or building maintenance repair assessments. In truth, buying a condo or townhome without any assessment of the property’s condition or the building management’s future plans for restoration and repair can be incredibly expensive risk to your financial future. Here are some of the many reasons why a condo or townhome inspection can save you time, money and reduce potential future stress.

Let’s explore the key areas typically included in a condo or townhouse inspection:

What do we inspect?

Interior Components

During the inspection, the interior elements of the unit will be carefully examined. This includes an assessment of the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and stairs. The inspector will be on the lookout for visible signs of damage such as cracks, water stains, or uneven surfaces. The inspector will note things such as, evidence of a poorly performing AC unit, or lack or air vents, electrical outlets, or light fixtures in common areas and living spaces. The safety of the unit including proper egress, openable windows, and other potential health hazards like lead, asbestos or the presence of potential mold will also be evaluated.

What do we inspect

Structural Elements:

The structural integrity of the condo or townhouse is of utmost importance, especially since you the owner may often rely on the building maintenance for communal repairs. The inspector will evaluate the foundation, walls, and roof for any visible issues like cracks, sagging, or signs of water penetration whenever accessible. Proper insulation and ventilation will also be assessed to ensure a comfortable living environment.

What we inspect

Mechanical Systems

The mechanical systems, including the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, as well as any hard fixed appliances such as ranges, stoves, refrigerators, washer and dryers, dishwashers and whirlpool tubs will undergo a thorough examination. The inspector will test the functionality of these systems, check filters and flame colors, and identify any potential issues to ensure optimal continued performance.

What do we inspect


A detailed assessment of the plumbing system will be conducted to check for leaks, water pressure/temperature, and drainage problems. The inspector will examine the condition of pipes, faucets, toilets, pumps, and water heaters. They’ll also be on the lookout for signs of water damage or mold growth throughout the interior and exterior of the building and unit.

what do we inspect

Electrical Systems

To ensure safety, the electrical system will be inspected. This includes an evaluation of the main electrical panel, proper amperage for the unit’s needs, circuit breakers, distribution wiring, outlets and light switches. The inspector will identify any potential electrical hazards, obsolete or “grandfathered” systems, and electrical standard violations that require attention.

what do we inspect

Exterior Components

If the condo or townhouse has exterior elements owned by the homeowner, such as balconies, patios, or roofs, these will also be inspected. The inspector will assess their condition and structural integrity, checking for signs of damage, deterioration, or inadequate maintenance.

What do we inspect

Common Areas & Shared Systems

In a condo or townhouse, there are often common areas and shared systems like elevators, stairwells, fire mitigation, parking garages, swimming pools, and or shared laundry services. While the inspection may provide a general assessment of these areas, it’s important to note that a detailed inspection of shared spaces typically falls under the responsibility of the condo association. Sometimes the inspector is not allowed access to the roof, electrical panel or other common areas by the building management. Understanding the state of the common areas is important not just for daily use and safety, but also to understand the potential for future costs and responsibilities as repairs of common areas are often paid for with the Building Association or HOA and can be large expensive projects.

When do I need a Condo or Townhome Inspection?

When is the best time of get a condo or townhome that you are planning to purchase or that you already own inspected?

Purchasing: Pre-Sale

Having a professional inspection is vital when purchasing a condo or townhouse. It helps uncover potential issues, like a common shared water heater that is 20 years past is life expectancy and in need of soon replacing, or an upcoming property assessment that might add $4000-$5000 of unexpected annual HOA fees to each condo owner. With a complete and through home inspection, the report details potential building expenses like these above, allowing you to make an informed decision about your investment. Maybe you can afford the mortgage and HOA fee of a condo at the asking rate, but the home inspection shows signs that the building is about to do a “special assessment” that may raise the HOA fee dramatically. Knowledge of that potential future cost, can help you decide to maybe choose a different condo building in your price range that does not have the potential for increased future costs. Remember to communicate with your inspector about the specific areas you want them to focus on and discuss any concerns you may have regarding the property.

Owner: Property Assessment

Although inspecting homes before the conclusion of the property sale is the bread and butter of Inspector Jo Home Inspections, property inspections can be, and should be conducted regularly throughout your ownership of the property. If you are a current owner of a condo or townhome and could like an aspect of your unit or your building assessed, maybe for your own knowledge and understanding of potential needed repairs and maintenance, or to better approach the building association or HOA with needed communal repair a home inspection is a great investment in currently owned properties as well as those potentially up for sale.

Owner: Pre-Listing

If you are the current owner of a condo, apartment of townhome and interested in putting your property up for sale on the housing market, a Pre-listing home inspection is great way to find out the current state of the property. With pre-listing inspection, the owner can use the information found in the inspection report to help decide what repairs and maintenance are needed in order to prepare the property for the market, increase your potential profits and speed up your sale time.

Typical cost of condo or townhome inspections

The cost of a condo or townhouse home inspection can vary depending on several factors, including the location, size of the property, and the scope of the inspection. At Inspector Jo Home Inspections, the cost of a condo or townhouse inspection starts at $350 for a 2b/1ba unit and can range from $350 to $600 depending on size, location and potential additional services such as radon testing, sewer scopes, and mold testing. Most condo’s, apartment units, and townhomes in the Chicago area will not exceed the standard fee as they are often under 1,200 sqft and 2b/1ba. To get at official quote on your property contact us today.

Top tier service and quality home inspections

At Inspector Jo Home Inspections, we understand the unique aspects of condo and townhouse living. Jo is a skilled inspector dedicated to providing you with a detailed evaluation of your prospective property, ensuring peace of mind and confidence in your purchase decision. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive inspection and embark on your journey to finding the perfect condo or townhouse for your needs.

Send Jo a message!

Interested in an Inspection? Send Jo a quick message with the address of the inspection, your preferred inspection time and any questions that you may have.


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