Jim Kolke Thermal Home Inspector

Mold in an attic can be a harmful issue if not corrected

It’s been a busy year but I’ve afforded time to start blogging about what has occurred this year while performing home inspection in Wilmette Illinois and other cities in the Chicago land area.  Many of the home inspections that I perform deliver less than favorable results to my clients.  Some of the worst issues that come up on home inspections are ~  mold in attics, cracks in foundations, high radon levels, damaged roofs that will require replacement and old furnaces and air conditioners that will require replacement.  These issues area probably some of the more expensive items that may require replacement at  a potential home inspection.

Unfortunately, while performing a home inspection in Wilmette on a foreclosure property all of these issues were named in the inspection report which caused my client to cancel the contract.  This happened to be the 2nd home inspection for my clients at a cost of $625.00 per home inspection.  I was frustrated for my clients because I know money does not grow on trees.  I discounted the service fee (which I never do) because they were first time buyers and they did not know what to look for when looking at homes.  This article will touch on some of the major items that could be found in your potential home inspection.  Before you submit an offer please look at the areas below to prevent loss of funds to perform a home inspection.

  • Mold in attics ~ Mold in attics is more common than most people may think.  If you are driving around looking at homes a step stool may worth putting in your trunk with a flashlight to look in attics to see if mold may be an issue in a home you are interested in.  Mold can become an issue in attics from bathroom fans being vented into the attic and poor ventilation.  You might be able to see if the bathrooms are vented to the attic while looking into the attic.  Mold removal can be very expensive depending on how much mold is found.  This happened to be one of the major issues at the Wilmette home inspection I performed.
  • Cracks in foundations ~ Cracks in foundations generally occur due to poor grading around the homes foundation or the lack of leaders.  If the basement is unfinished then take your flashlight and walk the perimeter of the basements foundation and see if there any cracks.  Not every home will allow the luxury of inspecting the foundation due to the basement being finished.  The home inspection I performed in Wilmette had 6 cracks in the foundation that would require epoxy injection.  Epoxy injection repairs generally cost $400.00 per crack and as you can see can add up very quickly.
  • Radon levels ~ A radon level above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is the EPA’s recommended level for action.  This basically means that a radon mitigation system will be needed to be installed into the homes foundation to lower the levels.  Radon mitigation systems can cost up to $3000.00 for complex systems.
  • Damaged roofs ~ before walking into your possible dream home take a look at the roof and see if the shingles seem wavy or cracked.  If this is what you see then the chances are you may need a new roof.  Roofs may cost up to $20,000.00 depending on how large the home is and should be built into your offer price for the property.
  • Old furnaces and old air conditioners may require replacement ~ Check the tags on the furnace and the air conditioner to determine the age of the units.  If the units are older than 20 years then you should plan on replacing these items while presenting your offer.  This was another issue that did make the report for the clients at the Wilmette home inspection.  Furnaces and air conditioners can cost $3000.00 and up depending on large the unit is and how many you may require.

As you can see these are real dollar issues that can “make or break or break a deal” very quickly.  Please follow what has been outlined in this article while looking at homes to prevent setting yourself up for failure at your home inspection.  If you have questions please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 847-251-1186.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

~Jim Kolke~

If you are shopping for or already own a home that is missing gutters, downspouts and leaders then this article was written for you.  One out of  twenty homes are missing gutters on their home and or garage.  Two out of three homes and/or garages are missing leaders and splash blocks.  My recent home inspection in Elmhurst, Illinois happened to be missing gutters on the garage and leaders on the home.

I consider  missing gutters and or leaders to be a major problem on a home.  The cost of installing gutters and/or leaders is very inexpensive.  The reason why the missing gutters and the missing leaders on the home were listed as a defective issue on my inspection report for the Elmurst home inspection was because there are opportunities for this issue to cause structural issues to the homes foundation.  Here are the issues that can come from missing gutters and/or missing leaders.

  • Water in your basement is probably the first result you will see from the lack of gutters and/or leaders on your home.  The fact that you have water entering your basement will eventually lead to the following problems on your home.  The water that enters your basement can cost thousands of dollars in repairs and even more if the basement is finished.  Mold is one of the key issues that will develop in your basement.  Mold in a basement can cost thousand just to get it abated.
  • Foundation cracks can develop and can allow water to enter the basement and possibly cause mold issues if the basement is finished.  These cracks can eventually turn into structural issues that will be seen on the exterior of the home.  Step cracking and displacement on the brick exterior of a home can be a result from the lack of cracks in your foundation.  These cracks can be repaired by Perma-seal for $300.00 dollars a crack.  The installation of a leaders and splash blocks will still need to be done to prohibit further cracks in the foundation.  The installation replacement price for leaders and splash blocks are generally under $200.00 for a large home.
  • Cracked slab in a basement or a garage is inevitable if the property is missing a roof drainage system.  The Elmhurst home inspection was missing gutters, downspouts and leaders on the garage.  The garage was already seeing cracks develop from the water undermining the slab and causing cracks in the slab.  Getting the water 6′ away from the property is my advice.  Without a roof drainage system installed this is impossible.  The replacement price for a gutter system for a standard 2 car garage is $600.00.

As you can probably guess, the Elmhurst home inspection also had foundation cracks from the lack of leaders and splash blocks around the home.  There were no structural issues yet.  I also believe that the poor grading around the home played a role in the foundation cracks that would need to be repaired.

As you can see, the use of a roofing drainage system is definitely needed on your home and garage.  If you have questions that need answering please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Cracks in a foundation can be very serious.  How serious the cracks are depends on their location and the condition they are in.  When I find a crack in a basement the first thing I look for is if there is any history of water penetration.  The next concern is if there is displacement or shifting of the foundation walls.  This is exactly how I what I did while performing the home inspection in Chicago for my clients.

There are two types of cracks.  There are structural and non stuctural.  I talk about the non structural first.  Non stuctural cracks are cracks that can develop from settling of the foundation, settling of a homes structure and expansion and contraction of the concrete that the foundation is made of.  Most of the  cracks that I see in a basement foundation are non stuctural but may still need attention.  These cracks can develop from poor grading along the foundation of the home, window frames in the foundation walls, loading from beams and poor compaction of the material under the foundation footing walls.  The foundation walls of the Chicago home inspection had cracks in the foundation that derived from poor grading and concrete expansion.  These cracks did not have past or present water penetration.

If you do find a crack that does or does not have water issues I still advise to repair it.  These cracks can become active and repairs are minimal most of the time.  Depending on the size and water penetration of the crack will determine what type of repair the contractor will do.  Foundation repairs generally cost $200.00 a crack.  You can see other repair prices at ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html.  Repairs can be done quickly but the cause of the crack will still need to be corrected.  This is the same advice I gave to my clients from the Chicago home inspection.

Structural cracks are the more serious type and if found should be evaluated by an structural engineer.  Structural cracks could have been non structural cracks that were left not repaired and developed into structural cracks.  If you see horizontal cracks or bulging of the foundation that is the first sign of structural issues.

These type of issues will require more investigation and probably more costs to repair.  My Chicago home inspection did not have any structural type cracks.  If you see these type of issues and need immediate help contact me ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html.  Letting these issues go without repair can possibly cause damage to the structural of the home that you own.

As you can see cracks in a foundation should not be left active.  Repairs to the issues that helped create these cracks also will require repairs as soon as possible because they still may allow they cracks to continue developing.  If you still need more help contact me at ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/testimonials.html.

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke


Leaders can be a eye sore, but when properly installed around a home  they can look aesthetically pleasing.  Recently, I was hired for a home inspection in Chicago Illinois’s Bucktown neighborhood.  Bucktown is a trendy neighborhood north of Wicker Park and east of Logan Square.  These areas are known for their old brick built homes and buildings.  These areas have changed within 10 years from a questionable area to a hip urban metropolis.  You can still buy a single family home or a condo in a chic condo building.  It is really all about what you want.  Its all here for the taking.

My new clients were interested in a 1910 single family home that happened to be a brick built home.  The property lines of the Chicago home inspection were 25′ frontage by 125′ deep.  This is a typical size city lot that you will see in the Bucktown area.  The problem I seem to see on a regular basis is tight lot lines.  Almost to the point of being able to touch walls of two properties at the same time.  The problem is the roof drainage used to be tied into the city sewer system and now the city of Chicago want the roof downspouts to go to leaders and dump on the permeable area on the property.  Most of the home inspections in Chicago do not have permeable areas for the rainwater to go to.  The standard for leaders is 6′ from the foundation or more with splash blocks to prevent erosion.

The home inspection in Chicago that I was doing didn’t have leaders or splash blocks.  If these conditions were like this for a long enough time can possibly cause foundation issues.  What happens is the rain water soaks into the area around the foundation and erodes the water under the footings and causes the foundation to crack and possibly displace.  The good news for my clients from the home inspection in Chicago was that there wasn’t any issues with cracked foundations.  This could have cost at least $300.00 to $400.00 per crack.  To see other potential cost check out~  www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html   Remember to extend your leaders to prevent these possible expensive issues.

If  you have question’s about why leaders are where they are positioned please contact us at~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Please leave a comment if this was helpful.  Thank You~  Jim Kolke

Foundation cracks are generally major concerns for clients who are buying properties.  We try to inspect these walls  when possible. In the instance of  a home inspection in Northbrook, Illinois the  client explained to us that the basement was totally finished.

Traditionally we inspect the exterior of the home first.  We look at many components of the home to verify the integrity of the structure of the home.  At the home inspection in Northbrook, there was an issue with the grading that was marginal.  This means that the grading needed to be increased  to prevent rain water from pooling around the foundation walls. In this case, it was pitched away from foundation but could use a little attention.

We used a thermal imager at the home inspection in Northbrook to verify insulation content through the home along with possible water intrusion.  There was no water intrusion or missing insulation seen throughout the home.

The final portion of  the home inspection in Northbrook was the basement which was totally finished.  I started to scan the basement walls and saw that a small area in a corner  showed a positive for a change in temperature.   We also use Tramex wall moisture meters.  The meter we use scans 4″ into the wall surface with radio waves.  The meter showed a positive for water penetration.  This was documented and the client was informed about these issues.

This is not always a costly repair.  In this case a portion of the wall had to be removed so the concrete repair company could evaluate and repair the foundation wall.  The cost for the crack was $325.00  and the drywall repairs were $235.00.   The grading was increased by a landscaper for $75.00 and everyone was happy.  Total cost $635.00 for all repairs.

If you think you have water penetration in your basement and the basement is finished contact us for thermal imaging at www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com