Portions of the home have the snow removed for proper view of the homes grade and foundation

Portions of the home have the snow removed for proper view of the homes grade and foundation

The home inspection portion of a home can be one of the most important portions of as home purchase.  Finding the right home should not be discounted in any form or fashion.  What a professional realtor does in their portion of a home purchase has real value and should not be discounted.  Unfortunately during the winter months of the Midwest some area of a home inspection may not be performed properly due to the weather.   Recently during a home inspection in La Grange Illinois we had to explain to out buyers that there are areas that may not be inspected properly.   We explain this to our clients through our email verification when booking the home inspection that certain areas of the home inspection will not be inspected fully due to weather issues (snow coverage).  These are some of the areas that may require further verification prior to closing to assure no hidden issues are uncovered after the closing of the home.

  1. ROOFS ~ Roofs of homes in the Chicago winters can be hard if not impossible to view and deliver a proper verification of the condition of all aspects of a roof system that may require an additional visit from your home inspector or a roofing contractor to assure that there are no hidden issues that may have a real cost to them.  Luckily for the La Grange home inspection clients we were able to walk the roof and broom areas of the snow away to assure that hidden issues were not under the snow.  Ask your inspector prior to your home inspection what their policy is for roof inspections so you know what to expect from his or her home inspection report.
  2. AIR CONDITIONER SYSTEMS ~ Air conditioner systems cannot be tested less than 60 degrees to assure that the compressors or any other portion of the air conditioner system does not become damaged due to working this system in cold temperatures.  As a home buyer you should expect this system not to be tested due to the frigid cold temperatures of the Chicago winters.   We recommend the air conditioner systems are certified from a HVAC contractor prior to closing or funding put in escrow until the unit is tested in the spring to assure proper working order.  The clients from the La Grange home inspection expected the unit would not be tested but were pleased that we found the system was only 2 years old which limits the potential for replacement of such a new air conditioner system.
  3. GRADING, SLOPING, SIDEWALKS AND DRIVEWAYS ~ The grade and slope of the homes dirt around the home can be hard to document to assure that the grade of the home is not back pitched potentially causing harm to the foundation of the home.  Here at Pinnacle Property Inspection Services we shovel the snow around the foundation to see if the grade and slope is correct and to see if any cracks in the foundation can be found.  Driveways and sidewalks are attempted to be shoveled to deliver a full picture of the home’s condition.  This is not required by the Illinois Standards of Practice for home inspector but can really help the home buyer to get a full picture of what the home really has to offer.  Our clients from the La Grange home inspection really appreciated the fact that we were so diligent.  Asking your home inspector if he or she will bring shovels to inspect the grade if a good qualification question when hiring a home inspector.

As you can see these areas are very important areas in your home inspection process that may deliver potentially expensive repair costs.  The La Grange home inspection clients were prepared of what to expect during a home inspection in the winter months because they asked many questions prior to booking their home inspection.  You too should be diligent to assure you get the proper home inspection you pay for.

 

If you have any questions about this topic you are more than welcome to contact us @ 312-961-4228 or pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

The Thermal Home Inspector

Sewer piping that is damaged cannot be seen from the exterior of the home. The only way you can see this is by a sewer scope or a dig up.

If you are a home buyer that is preparing to hire a home inspector then you might want to read this article.  Recently while inspecting a home in Chicago I was questioned if I was going to inspect the sewer line of the home.  This question made me think awhile until I could explain to my client that is impossible for me to inspect the sewer because it is underground and I physically can’t see the sewer and identify if there are cracks or other issues with the sewer piping materiel.  This led me to recommending sewer contractors to scope the sewers in homes that I was inspecting for home buyers.

My clients from the Chicago home inspection were a little upset that I could not determine the health of the waste piping underground until I fully explained that the best I could do was to run the water for long periods of time to see if the sewer could take all the water.  This is the standard way most home inspectors inspect the sewers in the home inspections they are hired to perform.  Most people do not understand that home inspectors cannot change, modify or convert any portion of the home in any form or fashion.  This is what led me to decide to start recommending that home buyers hire sewer contractors or plumbing contractors to perform sewer inspections.

My clients from the Chicago home inspection hired Roto Rooter from Chicago to perform a sewer scoping.  The cost of the sewer scoping which included a clearing of the sewer was $315.00.  I know what most people are saying.  Home inspection costs $400.00 and sewer scoping costs $315.00 at a total of $715.00 before I even move in the home.  Luckily for my clients from the Chicago home inspection they performed a sewer inspection which found 2 partial collapsed clay sewer pipes!

No big deal 2 broken sewer pipes?  Wrong!  Replacement costs to repair the Chicago homes sewer was $4150.00 which was paid by the seller!  I can’t promise that this will be the results of a sewer scope that you may pay for.  I can promise you that the repairs on a sewer can cost a whole lot more though.  Some Realtors do not appreciate that I recommend that perspective home buyers have sewer inspections performed because they are afraid they inspection may find a reason that the home buyers won’t buy the home.  I believe the exact opposite.  I believe it gives the home buyers a definitive feeling of all of the components of the home and will allow them to move forward in the home buying purchase with a sound mind.

My home buyers from the Chicago home inspection did buy the home they hired me to inspect.  If your home is newer then you might not want to hire a sewer contractor to perform a sewer inspection.  Knowing if there are issues is worth every penny.  If you have further questions about sewers or any other portion of your home please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

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

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

I’m writing this article for my first time home buyers who really do not know what to look for when buying a home.  In the last year we did a large amount of home inspections on Chicago’s bungalows.  The economy has made it possible that some of these hard to buy properties are now more attainable due to the adjusting real estate market.  This is a list of the major components that may have high repair or replacement costs.

  • Tuck Point repairs can be costly if they were not done or if they were done incorrectly.  You will be looking for areas that the bricks may be falling apart or mortar in between the bricks is literally falling out of the joint.  A professional tuck point job on a Chicago bungalow can cost up to $15,000.00.  The Chicago home inspection I performed this week had a great tuck point job.  A great savings for my clients.
  • Roofing is another major component of a Chicago bungalows.  Most of the Chicago bungalows that I inspect have multiple layers of roofing shingles.  The Chicago roofing code only allows for 2 layers of roofing material.  The Chicago home inspection I performed had 2 layers of roofing material.  The roof looked to only have 5-7 years of lifespan left.  My clients would be doing a tear off. (A tear off is when the roofing material is taken off to the sheeting and new roofing shingles are installed.) I always advise my clients to use a 30 or 40 year architectural shingle.  An architechitural shingle roof will cost about $8000.00 – $12000.00.  It may cost a little more now but you wont have to worry about the roof for at least 25 years.  Sounds good to me?
  • Structure of a Chicago bungalow has generally never been compromised and should still be looked at diligently.  If you don’t have an extensive background in either construction, general contracting or a structural engineer then I would let the pros tell you about this.  Chicago bungalows are made of over sized foundations, wood beams and columns, nominal lumber joists that are all meant to with stand a bombing!  This is why my clients from the Chicago home inspection were so interested in this Chicago bungalow.
  • Plumbing in the Chicago bungalows were state of the art a 100 years ago.  All homes need renovations.  If your plumbing system has not been renovated then that may be a repair or replacement cost you may have to deal with.  Galvanize water piping corrodes from the inside out and will eventually rot out completely.  Replacement costs for a plumbing piping system in a Chicago bungalow can cost $4000.00 – $10,000.00 depending on how extensive the replacement is and how many bathrooms and kitchens you have.
  • Electric will eventually need to be renovated if you still are using fuses.  I know fuses are used around the country, but can contribute to electrical outages with all the new appliances every one uses.  I advise my clients to upgrade their electric to a 100 amp breaker box at the least.  The replacement costs for a new service and breaker box is $1500.00 – $2500.00.  Luckily for my clients, from the Chicago home inspection all the electric was updated.

As you can see there are some major items you should look at when you are looking at possible home purchases.  Also my background in Chicago bungalows is extremely extensive and 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