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

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

Do you inspect roofs as part of your home inspection service?  This is a standard question we receive when a client calls to inquire about a home inspection from Pinnacle Property Inspection Services, Inc..  If you are from the northern portion of the United States you know that we get quite a bit of snow in our winters.  When it snows it creates hindrances to do a proper home inspection on a roof.

I was hired to do a home inspection on a bungalow in Chicago, Illinois.   Luckily for me the roof was a 4/12.  That measurement basically means that the roof has very little pitch and can be walked.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection were concerned if I would inspect their new homes roof.  I explained to them as I do to all of my clients.  Safety first!  I have no problem going on a roof with snow on it as long as there is no ice on the roof.  If there is ice I will not attempt to walk this roof due to possible safety issues.  If there is snow I will broom the roof off in various areas to inspect the roofing material, valleys, flashing skylights, plumbing venting, chimneys, chimney flashing and so on.  Our standards of practice for home inspectors does not require us to climb a roof.  I believe it is hard to give a homes roof a clean bill of health with out landing a foot on it.

Luckily for my clients from the Chicago home inspection I cleared the snow from the roof and inspected the roof properly.  The homes roof had areas of roofing shingles that have been damaged and would require replacement.  Roofing repairs can be costly and thats why we do this type of inspection.

So we find ice on the roof and we cant walk the roof.  I would suggest that you, your realtor or your attorney hold money back at the closing table that would be put in escrow until a proper roof inspection was done.  By doing this you are covered if problem areas are found and are in need of repairs or replacement.

As you can see snow can cause problems in your home inspection process.  Now that you know what to look for it should make your buying experience a little easier.  If you have further questions about roof inspection please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and be safe.

Jim Kolke

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