Recently I was hired for a home inspection in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.  The property that was to be inspected was a beautiful rehabbed basement duplex condo unit.  A basment duplex unit usually is one that incorporates the basement and the first floor of a condo building or apartment building.  Unfortunately these type of units do get a bad rap for having moisture issues, flooding, mold and so on.  Luckily for my clients of the Chicago condo home inspection I specialize in this type of property.  If you decide to purchase a basement duplex unit then I would advise you to hire a home inspector with extensive plumbing knowledge along with extensive building knowledge.  I’m not going to bore you with my credentials but I am a licensed plumber (Chicago lic # 194988).

This article will explain that if certain building systems are not installed that they most certainly can be installed to make your choice of home still attainable.  There are no “bad homes” just corrections to make them “great homes”.

When prospective home buyers consider garden condos they look at the finishes and that’s basically it.  If these items look good  and they like the neighborhood its a buy.  There are basically 4 items we look for when performing a garden condo home inspection.

  1. Flood control system is a part of a plumbing waste system that can be comprised of one of two systems.  The first is the building has overhead sewers and will have an ejector pit that will take waste water from floor drains in utility rooms, laundry rooms and waste water from bathrooms in the basement.  The other is a more complex system.  A backflow preventer is a check valve that will not allow water from the sewer main to come back into the floor drains, toilets, showers and or tubs of a garden condo.  Most home owners or sellers don’t know what type of system they have and that is why you really need a home inspector with extensive plumbing background.  Don’t worry.  If your garden condo does not have either one of these systems they can be added in the future by a contractor.
  2. Radon gas can cause health issues with the respiratory systems of the occupants of the home.  You can ask if the garden condo has been tested by a home inspector to see what the radon levels are.  Acceptable levels are under 3.9pci/l and can only be tested by a licensed radon measurement company when used in a real estate transaction.  The tests generally cost between $175.00 and $225.00 depending on where you are in the country.  If  high levels are found, radon mitigation can be done to correct this issue.
  3. Insulation and general construction can be hard to detect by a home buyer with little or no experience in the construction field.  We use  Fluke thermal imagers to detect if there is insulation in exterior walls and the possibilities of water intrusion.  Unfortunately you won’t be able to know this by just looking at the walls but there might be portions of the garden condo that are not finished and can be evaluated for insulation.
  4. Sump pump systems are a must for garden apartments and garden condos.  I also always suggest adding a battery back up sump pump system if one is not already installed.  The sump pump will take water through drain tiles under the concrete floor of the basement to a pump in a pit that pumps the water to the exterior of the property.  You want to make sure that the grading of the building is pitched away from the building and the drain pipe is at least 6′ away from the foundation walls.

As you can see there are some basic items to look for when choosing a garden condo.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection used me as a check list before choosing their duplex basement condo.  If you are looking at garden condos and have questions when your looking please contact Jim Kolke at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

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