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


   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

A recent article I published about “good, fast and cheap pick two” will be revisited to explain why cheap home inspectors and cheap home inspector services should be feared.  Feared?  Yes that’s right!  Lets do the math.  The purchase price of the home you are about to purchase is $200,000.00 for a 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom home.  Your discount inspector charges $200.00 for his professional home inspection services?  This sounds like a good deal?  Unfortunately for you this home inspector does not carry E and O insurance, generally liability insurance, no pictures on the report and no abilities to even be in this business.  In fact he has only been in the home inspection industry for 2 years.  Not bad?  What did he do before home inspections?  You forgot to ask.  He was a mechanic at Jiffy lube!  That’s great!

How do I know all of this info?  I was hired by his old clients from the Libertyville home inspection to do a real professional home inspection.  My inspection fee for this home was $425.00.  You ask why?  I carry 1 million dollars in E and O Insurance and general liability insurance to protect my client and all the affiliates I work with.  I use Fluke thermal imagers that cost $10,000.00 and other equipment to perform a professional home inspection. 

Do I get calls where people try to get”deals” on a home inspection.  Absolutly.  I dont do discount for anyone because I give a professional product that my clients can hang their hat on when purchasing a home.

My clients from the Libertyville home inspection were smart enough to ask their realtor for an extension on their attorney and inspection period and request a 2ND home inspection.  Luckily for them my inspection found items that would require repairs that exceeded $8000.00.   They see how important a professional home inspection is…now.

Hopefully you will learn that cheap home inspections can costs you thousands from my clients at the Libertyville home inspection.

If you have questions on what to ask your choice in home inspector please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jim Kolke


If you are looking at homes to purchase right now then you probably have looked at foreclosure, short sale and regular homes for sale.  These deals are generally structured a little different than each other from the realtor side.  When a home inspection is needed they all need to be treated the same.  What I mean by that is that all the utilities will need to be turned on prior to the inspection date and time.  Why do we need the utilities turned on for a foreclosure home inspection?

  • Water main- The water serviced needs to be turned on and the property needs to be de-winterized prior to the arrival of the inspector.  A home inspector will inspect to make sure that there are no leaks in the water service or the waste service.  These issues are generally ones that can compound in to costly repair costs if not found at the time of the home inspection service.  The standards of practice for home inspectors does not suggest that home inspectors turn on or install water meters and/or de-winterize the home prior to inspection.  Unfortunately the water meter was not installed at the home inspection I performed in Mount Prospect.  Luckily for my client I’m a licenced plumber (Chicago Lic. # PL-194988) and was able to install the water meter and complete the home inspection properly.  I do catch quite a bit of  backlash from home inspector associations about standards of practice.  The bottom line is that my clients want the home, the realtor wants to sell a home and I want to inspect the home and I have the means and the extensive background to make it happen for my client.  We all win!
  • Gas Utilities – The gas needs to be turned on prior to a home inspection to test the furnace, water heater, dryer, and stove to make sure they work and that there are no leaks in the gas supply lines.
  • Electric panel -The electric needs to be on and generally never is shut off by the foreclosure companies do to the fact that that most homes have sump pumps and will need electric to run in the case that there is a need for a sump pump.

I receive calls weekly from perspective clients looking to do a foreclosure home inspection without the utilities being turned on and I always explain that I would suggest that all utilities be turned on prior to the inspection.  If you decide to do  a home inspection with the lack of utilities being turned on you take a risk that there may be very expensive repairs after the closing of the home. 

My clients from the Mount Prospect home inspection were very happy that we were able to assist them with their lack of water main service.  They were promised that the water would be turned on and it did not happen.  This happens more and more with the abundance of foreclosed homes on the market.  If you have questions about foreclosure home inspection or any other issues that you can think of please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe.

Jim Kolke

If you subscribe or follow my blog you see I’m always talking about how to save money.  Saving money and getting a good value for the money you spend are two different things.  I receive phone calls and emails from potential clients that need home inspection services, condo inspections, pre- listing inspections, home buyer inspections, new home inspections, radon measurements, mold measurements and so on.

“How much does your home inspections cost?”  is one of the first questions we receive when a client contacts us.   This is a hard question for a national audience, so I will answer what we charge for a home inspection in the Chicago metropolitan area.

If you’re hiring a professional home inspection service company, then you might want to ask these questions when hiring  a home inspector to inspect the most expensive item you might buy in your life – your home.

  1. How long have you been inspecting homes, condos and buildings?  If the answer is a year or two you, might want to take a pass on this company.
  2. Are you a licensed home inspector? Do you belong to a home inspection association?  In Illinois, we have to be licensed by the state to be a home inspector and or own a home inspection entity.  There are home inspection associations that some home inspectors join to give their company credibility and gain knowledge from other home inspectors.  Some of these associations are Inter NACHI, ASHI, NAHI and all can be accessed online.
  3. What kind of construction background do you have?  If they tell you they sold shoes or worked in the mall or have no knowledge of  previous construction you might want to take a pass.  Your home inspector might find problems in the property you are buying, but will he or she be able to tell you how to repair them?  We are able to give prices for repairs or replacement items because of our 20+ years in construction.
  4. Do you carry Errors and Omission Insurance and general liability?  Errors and Omission Insurance will protect you if the home inspector misses an item that needs to be repaired. Their insurance will cover themselves and you.  If they don’t have insurance, again take  a pass and call another home inspector.
  5. Do you use thermal imagers?  A thermal imager can save you thousands of dollars in issues that can not be seen by the naked eye.  We use a Fluke thermal imager that can detect water intrusion, insulation issues, utility bill loss and so on.  We include this service with all inspections.  We suggest that your home inspector use this tool with a moisture meter also.  If they don’t offer this service you should take a pass.
  6. How long will your home inspection take and  does the client need to attend?  Our home inspections take anywhere from 3 hours to 6 hours depending on the size of the home. We always want the client to attend so we can educate them about THEIR home.  If the home inspector you called says his inspections only take a hour or two and they do not care if you show up. Take a pass.
  7. What kind of reporting system do you use and how long will it take to get my report?  We happen to use a computer reporting system and you get your report the same day.  There are home inspectors that use hand written reporting systems and they are just fine.  Make sure you get your report as soon as possible.  If the home inspector tells you ” in a day or two” you might want to take a pass.

So the questions on pricing will not be answered until those questions above are answered. So if you’re looking for a home inspection service in Chicago or anywhere in the world make sure you use our list of questions when choosing your home inspector.

If you have further questions about home inspection prices please contact me at The Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke