Yesterday I was hired to inspect a foreclosure townhome that had windows that were cracked in a transom.  A transom is a window above another window that allows sunlight to fill the room.  I personally really like the fact that this home had these transoms.  I found out at the Chicago home inspection in Greek town that my clients hired me because we use a Fluke thermal imager on every home inspection.  They saw water stains and paint bubbling on the ceiling of a bay window area in the living room.

On my arrival to the Chicago home inspection I found water coming through a ceiling in the living rooms bay window.  Obviously there were issues with the roof and the flashing’s that would need attention, roofing contractor. There were also issues with windows that were cracked and possible lack of headers above windows.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection were very concerned that there were structural issues with the lack of headers above windows.  That is when I took up my fluke thermal imager and we began scanning the walls.

The fluke thermal imager has many uses and I will explain many of them in this article.

  • Structural issues are sometimes filed with the use of a fluke thermal imager. These issues can be seen only when a temperature differential is available in the fluke thermal imager is not an x-ray machine it is a temperature tool.  Because the exterior temperature of a home is different than interior temperature of the home we are able to the see the actual wall joists and headers.
  • Water intrusion in walls and ceilings of the home is easily seen with the use of a fluke thermal imager. The use of a fluke thermal imager by itself is never done.  Tramex moisture meters are also used as another tool to document the fact that there is water or moisture in a wall.  The use of either tool by their self is never done because checks and balances are a must in any home inspection.
  • Electrical breaker boxes are scanned for overheated breakers.  If a breaker is overloaded or double tapped the fluke thermal imager will see it as an overheated breaker.  Overheated breakers can cause fires and homes.  It is pertinent that a fluke thermal imager is used to scan your electrical breaker box your home inspection is being done.
  • Insulation voids are found with the use of a fluke thermal imager. Fluke thermal imager’s are able to tell that insulation is missing or compromised in a wall or an attic with the use of temperature differential.

If you are a home owner or a home buyer and you have questions about this process them please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

We are now in March and the snow is almost gone and we can see the remains of the long Midwestern winter.  The spring rains will soon be here.  So I decided I would write an article for my readers that came up while I was with a client at their home inspection in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois.  We were walking around the home and I was showing him hose bibs.  The hose bibs were all shut off for the winter.  I found other systems at the Hawthorn Woods home inspection in need of attention that would be on this list.

  • Hose bibs will need to be turned back on. Most home owners turn their hose bibs off from within the home to prevent broken piping and such.
  • Gutters will need to be inspected and cleaned if needed.   Removal of winter leaves and debris is a must before the spring rains come.  If the gutters overflow because they are blocked may cause water to enter the home through the soffits if the apron flashing is missing.
  • Drains around the home should be cleaned of all debris that may block water from entering.  Basement stairwell drains must get special attention or the possibility of water entry to basement may be the result.  If your basement is finished this may be a costly mistake.
  • Window flashings should be inspected for gaps or missing caulking that will allow water to enter the building components.
  • Chimney crowns should be investigated by you or a roofing cont actor to make sure there are no cracks in the crown or the actual chimney component.  Water will enter the home if there any cracks in this location.  The crown at the Hawthorn Woods home inspection was cracked and would need repairs.
  • Electrical covers should be in good condition.   Make sure your Gfci type outlets are working also.
  • Make sure your leaders from your gutter system are in good condition and were not moved from the snow.   This easily happens with the winds and the snow.  secure your leaders and make sure the splash guards are installed pointing away from the home.
  • Patios and driveways should be cleaned and seal all cracks in the surface that may be an issues in the future.

As you can see this list can be a little overwhelming but can easily be completed in a Sunday afternoon with the kids.  My client from the Hawthorn Woods home inspection will definitely be using this list to prepare his home for spring and summer.  These items that you see on the list were considered marginal or defective issues like you might see on our home inspection report.  There are items that would be considered maintenance issues that would need to be done on an annual basis.  All of these items can be done if your home inspector shows you were these items are in your home.

If you are like my client from the Hawthorn Woods home inspection and don’t know anything about home and have questions then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke


A deck is a great place to spend the day with your family.   It can be a great selling point when selling your home.  It also can be a hindrance when trying to find a buyer that will be interested in your home if it has not been taken care of.  The huge deck was definitely the buying point for my clients that hired me for a home inspection in Long Grove, Illinois.  The home sat on a huge piece of property that had a lot of trees that made the home hard to see from the road.  We are now in the tail end of a Midwestern winter when the trees have no leaves on them.  The leaves from these trees are one of the issues I had at the Long Grove home inspection.  Leaves can cause a lot of maintenance issues around a home.  If leaves sit on any type of construction material they will start to deteriorate the material.  There are a couple things you want to look for when inspecting your deck.

  • The sizing and spanning of the floor joists are very important.  The easy way to tell if your deck is structurally sound is by basically moving around on it and if displacement happens then there may be issues.  Some of these issues can be rotten columns, missing footings, cracked or undersized floor joists, missing header plate or ledger board (that would be installed to the home for support), poor grading could cause you deck to prematurely fall apart.
  • Decking is the area that you walk on and generally needs to be painted or sealed bi-annually.  If you do not seal this area and stay on top of the care of the decking the boards will start to absorb water and start to rot.  There are new products you can replace your wood decking with.  It is made of plastic and wood composite that has zero maintenance.  They even offer this product in many colors to accent your homes design.
  • Railings can be a big issue if not installed right.  The span between the balusters should be no more than 4″.  This number was designed to keep small children’s heads from getting stuck in between these balusters. Make sure the railing posts are secured.  How you would do that is by giving the railings a little shove.  Not really hard but enough to see if there is any integrity behind the railing.
  • Stairs should be secured at the base of a deck.  Many times I find that the stair stringer is rotten on the base of the stair case because the stairs we not set onto a concrete pad. The concrete pad allows the stringer to have a place to dry out after water has found it.  Most times the base of the stair case is set in the dirt.  There is no stability and a chance for the staircase to deteriorate quickly.  The stairs at the Long Grove home inspection were going to need to be replaced.  I estimated that the replacement costs for these stairs would cost $600.00.

The article was written about sealing and painting your deck but I figured I would educate you on other important items that may come up in your home inspection on the deck .  To replace a older deck may cost you thousands but doing standard maintenance will only cost you hundreds.   My client from the Long Grove home inspection learned what to look for and how to take care of his deck from his home inspection.

Hopefully you found some information here you can use.  If you have further questions about decks then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

I guess this question is all relative.  Personally I hear that our home inspection cost is a little high or in the higher end of the market.  I don’t get upset because most home buyers, home sellers, real estate brokers and real estate Realtors don’t really understand what it cost to run a profitable home inspection company.  There are many aspects that will influence the home inspection cost or price.  Pinnacle Property Inspection Services receives numerous calls and or emails daily on quoting out home inspection services.  I’ve tried to explain to my clients that you are paying for a professional service that should not be treated so lightly.  Today I’ll expose the real overhead cost to run a profitable home inspection company in Chicago and anywhere in the United States.

  • Errors and Omission insurance should be a major cost of a home inspection company.  I know that a very large percentage of Home inspection companies do not buy Errors and Omission insurance.  Why??  A cheap $250,000.00 costs about $2500.00 for 1 year.  If you do only 200 home inspections a year you will have to lose $12.50 a home inspection.
  • Home inspection license is another major cost.  In Illinois we pay $200.00 a year and $200.00 a year for our business license.  That is $400.00 a year.  I understand that most states do not have licensing fees so most of these home inspectors in these states flock to a home inspector association.
  • Home inspector association is a great way to meet other home inspectors and get recognized by your customers that you are a professional.  I personally belong to InterNachi and find a great worth for their marketing skills to help the company get leads.  The membership is $275.00 a year.  If you did 200 inspections $1.25 would go to pay that fee.
  • Tools and office equipment is unbelievable cost.  We use Fluke thermal imagers which cost $5000.00 for 1 camera. Moisture meters, hand tools, gas meters, thermometers, mold testing equipment, radon monitors and so on is a huge cost.  Let’s just call that $30.00 a home inspection that is passed on to the client.
  • Transportation is a huge cost.  As most of you know that gas is not getting any cheaper.  I would venture to say $6000.00 would cover gas fees for 1 year.  The cost for 200 home inspections is $30.00 per home inspection.
  • Home inspection marketing should be a major cost to any home inspection company.  If it is not and they are doing well then they are very lucky.  We budget $20,000.00 a year in marketing but let’s call a 200 home inspection budget at $3000.00.  This won’t get you big growth in sales but will keep you where you are at.  The cost for this marketing budget is $15.00 per home inspection.

If you were to add all these numbers up we would be close to a $100.00 per home inspection.  I recently received a call from a client that wanted us to perform a home  inspection in Chicago for $275.00.  The home was 3 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms home that were approximately 2000 square feet.  This inspection took me 3 hours to inspect and 2 hours to prepare the home inspection report.  The client from the Chicago home inspection did not hire us for her first home inspection.  She did hire us for the second home inspection though.  My price for this Chicago home inspection was $395.00.  I lost the initial deal to a home inspector that does any home for $275.00.  I’m sure he does not have any of these overhead costs that a real home inspection would incur.  He can come in and be the budget home inspector for these clients that think they are getting a great deal.  If you are a client that is worried about how cheap you can get your home inspector to perform a home inspection then be prepared to have issues in you home that you did not know about.  My client from the Chicago home inspection almost was on the hook for a new roof…. $11,000.00.  Pay now… or… Pay later.  You choose!

If you have further questions about how I derived at these prices you are more than welcome to contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke


   It is very common to have clients that are looking for a home inspection to want to purchase every service that we have to offer.  I don’t believe on selling a client a service that they may not need.  Don’t getme wrong.  I am in business to make money but only honestly not using scare tactics to increase our revenue.  If you need a radon measurement because your area is known to have high levels then I would advise you to purchase a radon measurement.  Have you seen mold or mildew in the home when you were looking at it?  Then you might want to get a mold inspection or testing.  My client from the Gurnee home inspection was dead set on getting every service that we offered.  I explained that buying every inspection service we offer should not be done without doing your homework.

You ask how I get this info to make my decision.  Below are the check points for the various inspection services.

  • Mold inspection or testing should be done if the home smells musty in certain areas like crawl spaces, attics or garages that are attached.  If you see any areas that may have surface mildew or mold then you might want to add a mold inspection to your home inspection.  If you see any areas that have moisture penetration into the attic or window flashing’s that may have been there for awhile may be a reason for a mold inspection.  If your home inspector thinks that the basement may have had water penetration or flooding then purchase a mold inspection.
    •  Asbestos pipe wrapping, asbestos tiles, asbestos shingles and other asbestos products were used up to 1988 and generally are not found.  If you have a basement and the tile floor is 9″ x 9″ then the probability that those tiles are asbestos is very high.  Asbestos tiles and pipe wrapping is not an issue unless it is disturbed.  If the basement has seen flooding or any water that has sat on the asbestos tile for any time then the tiles may be brittle.  Brittle tiles that are chipping may pose issues and should be inspected by a professional asbestos inspector.
    • Radon gas measurement is a service that we offer and we do hundreds of tests a year.  The results vary depending on where the property is that we are performing a radon measurement.  I believe that the presence of dirt crawl spaces or any crawl space does increase your potential for a possible higher radon measurement number.  Sump pumps are another contributor to higher readings in radon measurements and always suggest to my clients that these sump and ejector pits be sealed properly.  Gaps in the connection of foundation walls and basement floors will allow the possibility of higher radon measurement numbers.

Lead paint was used in homes and buildings up to 1978 but was still seen up to 1980. Lead paint can be tested a home inspector with a non-invasive testing method. Carve testing is the proper way to test for lead paint but cannot be done at a home inspection. My client from the Gurnee home inspection was concerned about lead paint because he had a 2 year old son that could be harmed by lead paint. Lead paint is known to harm children under the age of 5 years. Lead paint can’t be verified by just looking at it.

As you can see there are kinds of items you need to look for before you start ordering every service your home inspector offers.  My client from the Gurnee home inspection was ready to hand over $1050.00 for every home inspection service we offer.  The Gurnee home inspection service fee was $600.00.  He purchased our standard home inspection and a mold inspection.  Money doesn’t grow on trees so make sure you know what you need.    Hopefully this was helpful for all of my readers.  If you have further questions about what type of home inspection services you need then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe

Jim Kolke