What to Expect During our Standard Home Inspection
Whether you choose us or not, the most important thing you can do is attend the home inspection from beginning to end. We want you to stay with the home inspector during the entire home inspection. There are exceptions. We cannot let you use our ladder to access the roof or attic. Our insurance company will drop us if we did. A typical home inspection will take 3-5 hours to perform, depending on the size and condition of the home, and how many questions you have (by the way: we love questions). For first-time home buyers, our home inspections provide an excellent education on home ownership and home maintenance. For the more experienced buyer, we’ll focus more on major issues and general building science. We take digital photos, and videos throughout the inspection and include them in our inspection report. After the inspection, our inspectors will write the report. This is usually another two-hour process. We will email the home inspection report to you by the evening in Adobe Acrobat format. Unless special arrangements are made.
Click here to view a sample report – this is not a ‘doctored’ report, this is an actual report with the address and client information removed.
All of our home inspectors are licensed in the State of Illinois (IDFPR). As such, we are bound by the Standards of Practice of the IDFPR. These standards are the MINIMUM and only state what we HAVE to inspect. Not HOW to inspect. This is why we use special equipment on each and every inspection. Items such as thermal imagers, black lights, moisture meters, combustion analyzers, and gas leak detectors are just a few. The list below incorporates the IDFPR Standards of Practice but also incorporates part of the Chicagoland Home Inspectors, Inc., list of Best Practices for a home inspection. This list is written in the same order as our inspection reports. We think this is a pretty boring list, but we occasionally get asked about some of these specific items, so here are the items included in our inspection of single-family homes and townhomes:
- We place our ladders on the house and climb up on the roofs to inspect them. We feel this is the best way to inspect them. Some common-sense exceptions would be unsafe roofs, roofs not accessible with a 12′ ladder, snow-covered, etc.
- If we cannot walk the roof, we will send out an inspector with a drone or pole camera to get the best view possible. And we place a 5 Year Leak Warranty on the roof as long as no active leaks are found.
- Gutters and roof drainage systems. We’re big proponents of gutters.
- Flashing (and poor flashing) is typically reported.
- Skylights, roof vents, plumbing vents, and other roof penetrations are inspected.
- Chimney crown
- Chimney walls
- Chimney flashing
- Fuel-burning fireplaces, stoves, and fireplace inserts. This means both wood burning fireplaces and gas fireplaces.
- Fuel-burning accessories installed in fireplaces, such as gas logs.
- Wall coverings (siding)
- Guardrails and handrails
- Drainage and lot topography
- Retaining walls
- Bushes and trees that are affecting the building
- Foundation walls
- Vent exhaust (dryer and kitchen vents) and air intakes
- Exterior spigots
- Overhead doors
- Including torsion springs for proper tension and expansion springs for safety cables.
- Garage door openers, including auto-reverse features
- The rest of the stuff you would probably expect; doors, stairs, walls, floor, electrical, etc.
Basement / Foundation / Structure
- Foundation walls
- Basement floor
- Crawl spaces
- Sump Systems, including the sump basket, sump pump, sump cover, and extension piping.
- Floor structure (posts, beams, joists, etc.)
- Basement insulation
- Signs of basement moisture/water intrusion. Water seepage is a major concern for buyers. We scan the exterior walls with a thermal imager and we use top of the line moisture meter such as the Protimeter Surveymaster to check for elevated moisture levels when they’re seen with the thermal imager or if any other signs of past leakage is present.
- Exterior electrical components
- Service drop
- Service entrance conductors
- Service entrance cables
- Service mast
- The main panel and any subpanels. We remove panel covers to inspect the wiring inside. For the record, this is not something that sets us apart from our competition; every licensed inspector in Illinois who claims to follow IDFPR Standards Of Practice should do this.
- Service grounding and the grounding electrode conductor. The service ground and proper bonding are the two most important items that keep an electrical system safe.
- Interior electrical components, including the majority of outlets, switches, and lights.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters
- Arc fault circuit interrupters
- Smoke and CO alarms. We recommend they be changed if over 10 years old. We follow the Illinois smoke detector law, and the Illinois Carbon Monoxide law regarding location, type and the amount of smoke detectors allowed.
- DWV – Drain, waste, and vent pipes
- Water supply pipes
- The visible portion of the water service pipe, which is the water supply pipe that brings water into the home
- Water heaters
- Water heater vents.
- Clothes washers and dryers
- Floor drains
- Gas lines. We have electronic gas leak detectors to locate gas leaks.
- We document the locations of the main gas and water valves.
- Installed heating equipment such as furnaces and boilers. We use combustion analyzers on furnaces. I am not aware of any other inspector who does this. This is the only way to find a crack in the heat exchanger or a poor gas-air mixture.
- Furnace filters are inspected and clients are shown how to change the filter.
- Registers are all checked for operation with an infrared camera.
Vent connector, vent and visible portion of the chimney.
- (ERVs) Energy Recovery Ventilators or (HRVs) Heat Recovery Ventilators
- Central and through-wall cooling equipment
- Temperature difference testing is used to determine if cooling equipment is operational
- Condensate drain.
- Ceilings – A thermal imager is used on all inspections.
- Walls – A thermal imager is used on all inspections.
- Floors – A black light is used on carpeting to look for pet stains.
- Doors – A thermal imager is used on all inspections.
- Windows – A thermal imager is used on all inspections.
- Skylights – A thermal imager is used on all inspections.
- Stairs, handrails, and guardrails
- Countertops and cabinets
- Exhaust fans
- Kitchen appliances
- We access nearly every attic to inspect them. If we can walk or crawl through the attic without damaging the insulation, we’ll do so to inspect the attic.
- Framing and sheathing
- Exhaust fans and ducts
- Locating attic by-passes typically requires some minor disturbing of insulation. We’ll disturb a little insulation to look when attic air leaks are suspected.