So your buying a home and your questioning if you need a radon measurement with your home inspection or not.  Today I will help you with deciding  if a radon measurement is needed.  Iwill be using a home inspection I performed in Downers Grove, Illinois as my test subject.  I’ll really be speaking about the metro area in Chicago, Illinois but you can see maps that can help you in your area of the United States.

The first thing that always comes up is the cost of the radon measurement.  The standard price for a radon measurement is between $175.00 – $225.00, depending on where you are in the Chicago area and if you are getting a break on the price because you are getting a home inspection.  In Illinois a radon measurement must be done with a continuous radon measurement device.  We are not allowed to use charcoal canisters in real estate transactions.  These monitors are plugged into an electric outlet and they take a sample of the air every 15 minutes.  We generally put these monitors in finished basements or  rooms above crawl spaces.  Sometimes we may have up to 5 monitors for one home.  The Downers Grove home inspection had 2 monitors because there were two different types of foundations.

If your in Illinois and your wondering if you need to spend $175.00 on this measurement go to and see how your city or village rates with past radon measurements.  We measure radon by Pc/l.   This is a standard guideline that all can understand nationwide.  Radon can only be found by the measurements that we employ due to the fact that radon gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless.  This gas can cause cancer from its alpha and beta particles that implant themselves into your lung fibers.

So you want to remove the radon.  How much will it cost?  This depends on multiple factors and a radon mitigator can go over that with you and your family.  Mitigation systems can cost between $1200.00 – $2000.00 and more if there are multiple foundation areas that the mitigator will have to work with.  You can see other items that are related to radon measurement and mitigation at  This seemed to be very helpful for my clients of the home inspection in Downers Grove, Illinois.

If you have any questions about radon and how they can affect you and your family please contact me through ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke


Toilet backed up??  Happens to everyone.  Don’t worry I will explain how to clear a toilet sewer line on your own.  If you want to give a plumber $125.00 then call your favorite plumbing company.  If you want to save money then read on.  I got this idea while I was performing a home inspection in Chicago.  The toilet to the master bathroom was blocked and the home owner admitted they could not get the line cleared.  They said they called a plumber, but he couldn’t make it until the evening.  I had a closet auger in the truck so I felt it a great lesson for my clients from the Chicago home inspection.

The first thing you want to buy is a closet auger like this one.  This is a rigid closet auger.


This tool is needed to clear the toilet.  You want to pull the handle back while holding the tube of the tool.  You then put the hook into the base of the toilet and push lightly while turning the handle.  The auger (snake should slide into the toilet bowl and the water should go down.  Pull back the handle and push it back while turning the handle again to ensure that the blockage is clear.  If you have problems take a look at this video at ~

My clients from the Chicago home inspection were amazed that it was that simple.  You too can do this yourself and save money.  If you have more questions please contact us at ~  Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

How important is the inspection of a roof?  I believe it is probably one of the most important items of an inspection.  I’ll explain in detail why I feel this portion of a home inspection is so important.  I performed a home inspection in Western Springs, Illinois that we will use as an example of why roof inspections are so important.

When you go to inspect a roof you want to educate and inform your clients of many important details on that will concern the roofs integrity. This is exactly how I performed the home inspection at the Western Springs property.

First of all, you want to go on the roof of every home as long as the roof is walk able and safe.  There are roofs that should not be walked on due to their material.  These roofs are made of slate, wood shake, wood shingle, concrete tile, clay tile and any material that has the probability to crack.  When you walk on the roof you will be able to identify the possible issues on the roofs material.  While walking on the roof you will also be able to test the structures ability to hold any type of weight.  Most home inspection reports should give you documentation of the material used to cover the roofing structure, how many layers, possible issues, age, lifespan, possible cost.  We have a cost page on our web site to help our clients understand how much a new roof will cost them.  You can see this site at Repair costs.  The Western Springs home inspection did not have any issues with the roofing materials.

The next portion of a roof inspection is the inspecting of the drainage.  Flashing’s, gutters, leaders, downspouts, valleys are all part of this portion of the roof inspection process.  You want to make sure that all these items are installed properly and will not fail and cause water damage to the home and its contents.  You can watch me do a roof inspection at  All of these components need to be inspected and documented to your home inspection report.  The Western Spring home inspection did have issues with the flashing that needed to be tended to to prevent water from entering the building envelope.

As you can see there are many areas that can cause issues that can cost you real money if not properly inspected.  If you have questions about home inspections please contact us at ~ 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by.

Jim Kolke

So your buying a foreclosed home?  That’s great!  You are probably getting a great deal.  Plenty to be had.  This article will explain through a Chicago home inspection why having all the utilities on will save you time and money in the future.  This is very important.

If you are buying a foreclosure you already know that there is a good chance you will be doing work on your new home to get it the way you want it.  The question is how much work will you have to do to get it the way the bank/underwriter want it?  That is a trick question.  They want it to be functional depending on what type of loan vehicle you go with.  That’s a whole other article though.  The bank generally sends an appraiser/inspector  to represent their interest (your loan) in to inspect your home with the inspection report that your inspector has produced on your behalf.  Most of the time the owner (bank) knows what is wrong with the property.  They just want you to find it for yourself.  Sometimes they will give you allowances for repairs because they know they will be found during your inspection.  Before I was able to perform the home inspection in Chicago I had to schedule getting the utilities turned on with the bank, listing realtor, buyers realtor and my client.  I personally want all the utilities on for a home inspection to protect and educate my client of potential costs.  The utilities that need to be turned on are plumbing supply, electric and gas.

The electric is generally never turned off.   The banks have gotten smart and left that utility on so that the sump pumps don’t overflow and cause water, mold and other damages to the property.  The gas on the other hand is generally shut down and/or lock out by the gas company.  Generally the gas company wants some sort of security deposit to turn this on.  Sometimes this is a past due bill that they want paid prior to turning the gas service back on.  So be prepared for that.

The final utility is in my opinion the most important.  The plumbing!  The plumbing can cause the most damage if their are issues that are active or issues that have happened prior to the foreclosure process.  The biggest issues I find in our foreclosure home inspections is poor winterizing of the plumbing system.  Primarily the water supply system.  If the winterizing company does not blow the water supply lines out with a compressor the lines will freeze at the lowest area and break.  So when you do turn on the water supply service you will have water leaks.  These generally can be found near the water supply angle stop for the toilets.  This is the lowest area in the bathroom and kitchen water supply system.  These areas generally can be fixed by a licenced plumber or a handy homeowner.  The issues that your finance company will have is that they want prices for these repairs from a licensed plumber.  This is very important!!  There are home inspectors that have plumbing licenses that can do this for you for FREE if you hire them for the home inspection.  I know this for a fact because I do this and I’m a licensed plumber ( Chicago license # pl194988).  You can see all the other licenses at ~   This was the main reason my clients hired me for their Chicago home inspection. Believe me when I tell you that you need someone with this license in your corner advocating with the underwriters.  If we are doing it here then someone will have to do it for you.

If you have other questions about foreclosed home inspection or regular home inspection please contact us at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

Home Inspection in Chicago using a Thermal Imager


Niles, Illinois home inspection explains why all home inspections need to be done with a thermal imager.  A thermal imager??  This is a camera that uses a different level of vision to see the contents of a building or any other item.  The level of vision is called infrared or sub red.  Basically, the infrared thermal imager uses different temperatures to see issues in a home.  These cameras have only been used in home inspections for the last 5 years or so.  The thermal imager seems to be becoming more popular with home inspectors but recently has seen a down turn do to the recession and the cost to purchase a quality camera.  Generally, a good beginner camera costs about $3900.00.

We use these cameras on every home inspection to see things that can not be seen with your naked eye.  The Niles home inspection had the thermal imager used and found that there were areas of the duct work that were not insulated.  Not a huge problem but none the less should be documented for my client.  We use these cameras to look for water issues on roofs, window flashing’s, siding issues, water piping leaks, waste pipe leaks, toilet seal leaks, missing insulation in walls or attics, door air leaks, air window leaks, electrical panels and so much more.  Most cameras will capture the image and can be embedded on your report depending on what type of reporting system your inspector uses.

The next question is the cost of a thermal home inspection?  The Niles home inspection was $425.00.  The home was a 3 bedroom /2.5 bathrooms and a detached 2 car garage.  Here in the Chicago area that is roughly what a regular inspection costs from a company that doesn’t use a thermal imager.  We use this imager and do not charge an additional fee for thermal imagers because we want to give all of our clients a great inspection.  I believe it is impossible to give a great inspection without a thermal imager.  Some inspection companies will add an extra $100.00 – $250.00 for the use of their camera.  My advise is that even if you have to pay more it is worth it to know what you really have in your home.  That is why my clients from the Niles home inspection sought out my company to represent them on their home purchase.  You can see our video on a thermal home inspection at ~ .

If you have questions about Thermal imager home inspections contact us at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke