HOME INSPECTION FAQ
What is included in the home inspection?
What are your fees for a home inspection?
Please refer to our Service Pricing page to view our inspection fee for the type of property you are considering. (Use your browser’s “back” button to return to the FAQ.) Our fees are based on the costs associated with providing our clients with the most thorough, comprehensive and accessible inspection reports available. That begins with hiring and retaining the most knowledgeable and experienced inspectors for our team, who use cutting-edge technology and reporting software to give our clients the guidance they need regarding issues of safety and financial liability to make informed decisions about the viability of purchase. We also strive to provide the best of client care, appointment availability, and modern convenience you would expect from the premier home inspection company in the region.
How do I schedule an inspection?
You may either click on the “Schedule and Inspection/Audit” button to set up an appointment on your own or call 312-488-1461 to speak with a member of the team.
How much advance notice do you need to schedule an inspection?
Inspection appointments are on a first come, first served basis, and due to the unusual market activity, lead times have been running anywhere from 2 to 7 days.
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept personal checks at the time of the inspection or credit/debit card once you receive email notification that your report is available to view/download.
How do I submit the Inspection Agreement?
When you schedule an appointment, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to our Inspection Agreement. Please read the Agreement in its entirety, as your presence at the inspection (or that of your real estate agent or another representative) constitutes your acceptance of the terms therein. However, our insurance provider requires that we keep a signed copy of the Agreement on file. You may submit it in one of several ways:
- Print and sign the Agreement and bring it to the inspection.
- Scan a signed copy and attach the file to an email addressed to the inspector indicated in the confirmation message.
- Fax a signed copy (to those of our inspectors with a fax number).
- Digitally sign the Agreement using Adobe Reader, save it to your computer and attach the file to an email. (While Domicile Consulting does not offer support on creating a digital ID, information on doing so is readily available on the web.)
- Once you receive an email notification that your inspection report is available for viewing/download, you may click the “I Accept” button in the Home Gauge interface
What is the turnaround time for your inspection reports?
Illinois Law requires inspection reports to be delivered no more than 2 business days after the inspection has been completed. We make every effort, however, to complete your report ASAP.
Do you have sample reports available?
Yes. They can be viewed on our Sample Reports page. (Please use your browser’s “back” button to return to the FAQ.) In addition, we offer a competitor’s report comparison, which shows how we deliver what other inspection companies can’t.
I'm buying a new home. Isn't approval by the City of Chicago Dept. of Buildings inspector enough?
City building inspections are completely different than those provided by a qualified private home inspection company. To learn about the differences, please read Barry Stone’s (aka The House Detective) excellent Q&A on the subject.
Do you use thermal imaging/infrared?
Yes, each inspector at Domicile Consulting owns and uses thermal imaging equipment. It is a great tool but it is NOT an X-ray machine and it doesn’t make us omniscient. It’s functionality is dependent upon many factors including: the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors at the time of the inspection; whether or not we’ve experienced any recent rain and which direction the rain came from; whether the water service to the home is on or off at the time of the inspection; and other factors too numerous to detail here. In short, we use thermal imaging as is appropriate to the home being inspected at that particular point in time.
What if the utilities aren't on...can we still inspect?
Absolutely! Most of the defects we find in a home are a function of the way they were installed. Even if the utilities are OFF we can inspect how the electrical distribution system is installed; how the plumbing drain piping, water piping, fixtures, etc. were installed. There is a tremendous amount of information available to the experienced inspector even without the gas, water, or electrical utilities active. We can even use air pressure equipment to test the water piping for leaks when the water service has been cut-off. There is no question however that it is preferable to have ALL the utilities ON for the inspection and every effort should be made to do so.
Are you insured?
Yes, Domicile Consulting and each of its inspectors is covered by General Liability Insurance as well as Errors and Omissions Insurance. That coverage is meant to protect the inspectors and the inspection firm against incidental damage and unreasonable clients. It is not intended to protect the home inspection clients against unforeseen and unforseeable future damage or failure. If a buyer is looking for insurance protection for the components of the home then they should arrange to purchase a Home Owners Warranty.
Do you inspect for termites?
Yes, we routinely find evidence of termite, powder post beetle, carpenter ant, and other Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) damage. We poke, probe, and peek into every nook and cranny of the home we can in order to find anything that might be damaging the home or which may be creating a less than ideal interior environment for you and your family. We are NOT licensed to treat termites or other WDO issues however. That is the purview of a pest control contractor which we are not.
We can't be there for the inspection, is that ok?
While we highly recommend that our clients be present, we understand that in some cases it just isn’t possible. Our reports, however, are the extremely comprehensive and include not only detailed descriptions of any issues found, but photos as well. After reading the report, if you have any questions, our inspectors are happy to review their findings with you. For an additional fee, we can also record a video of the inspection.
What if we find something in our home after we move in that was not addressed in the report?
We make every effort to find and document any negative conditions at the property during the inspection. We are neither super-human nor infallible. If you become aware of something at your home that makes you feel we ‘missed’ something during our inspection it is your responsibility to call us BEFORE taking corrective action so we can come back out to re-inspect. If your cousin’s brother-in-law’s plumber’s friend tells you, “Your inspector should have found that” then please take the comment with a large dose of salt and pick up the phone to call us. Talk is cheap and nowadays everyone who watches HGTV is an ‘expert’. Mike Holmes can rip apart the homes he inspects on TV, we can’t. We work our tails off to tell you everything knowable about the property. If you think we didn’t, then we are only too happy to refund your fee as long as you follow the Client Agreement that you signed before the inspection.
What if you can't get on the roof?
We able to walk on well over 90% of the roofs on the homes we inspect. If your home is one of the small number on which we are unable to ‘walk the roof’ then we will, if it is a peaked roof, inspect from the ground using binoculars. If we can put a ladder up against the gutter or eave then we will perform a ‘ladder lean’ inspection in which we get up close and personal with the roof covering but do not actually walk on the roof itself. Some roof coverings should NEVER be walked upon except by someone who is prepared to repair the damage done by the stress of foot traffic. Such roofs include slate, wood shakes, clay tile, and others. Once again, we have a deep desire to get all the information we can from the home we are inspecting … if something keeps us from doing that then we are disappointed. Home inspectors are generalists, we have to be knowledgeable about many different systems and components. Sometimes though, just like your general practitioner M.D., we have to rely on specialists to get more information for us both. We may need to call in a roofing contractor on occasion to actually get on top of a roof. That may result in an additional fee payable directly to the roofing contractor.
Should I have a radon test performed?
We are very strongly urging our home inspection clients to have a radon test performed before making a final decision about whether to purchase a home. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be dangerous when it builds up inside of confined spaces. It is estimated that 20,000 people die each year due to exposure to radon, and it is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers (number two overall). 25% of homes within Chicago and 40% of those in the suburbs that have been tested have come back with results showing radon levels above EPA safety guidelines. Due to the relatively small number of homes that currently get tested, the percentage of homes with dangerous levels of radon could actually be much higher.[/pane]
Dangerous levels of radon can be mitigated by a system that removes it from inside a home, where it becomes diluted in the air. While a radon test costs money, it is nowhere near the cost of a mitigation system. That is why we recommend having a radon test performed during the inspection/attorney approval period of your contract. If the test comes back showing dangerous levels, there is a good chance that your attorney may be able to get the seller of the home to pay for the mitigation. This is because test results must be filed with the State of Illinois. If the seller does not wish to make that concession to you, the test results will be on public record, possibly hurting any future attempts they might make to sell the home.
Should I have a radon test performed if I am purchasing a condominium?
It’s a good idea, especially if the unit you are looking to purchase is in a vintage walk-up building. Even if you are not looking at a garden unit (where a test would be highly recommended), radon can still find its way to upper floors and collect at unsafe levels. In this case, however, you would most likely be dealing with the condominium association regarding mitigation, rather than the seller directly.
Do you offer radon testing?
Domicile Consulting will have licensed radon technicians on staff. We will offer both stand-alone radon tests, and also tests in conjunction with our general home inspection services (at a special discount rate!).
How much does radon testing cost?
Please refer to our Service Pricing page. Larger homes or ones that have a partial crawlspace may require the use of additional monitors, at an additional cost.
Can the radon test be done at the same time as the home inspection?
In most cases, we can coordinate the placement of radon test equipment to be at the same time as the home inspection, but we must have access to retrieve the equipment 48 hours later (sometimes more).
Should I have a mold test performed?
It is our opinion that mold tests are not useful. Mold spores are everywhere, inside and out. When samples are collected from inside a home and sent off to a lab, they are compared with outdoor ambient levels of spores. But which ambient level? Anyone who has mold allergies knows that the level varies not only from season-to-season or month-to-month, but even day-to-day. Additionally, levels inside the home can vary the *same* day, depending if, say, a furnace is running at the time the sample is taken or not. The real issue is whether conditions are present under which the mold can colonize and grow to the point where it adversely affects indoor air quality. Mold needs three things to grow: spores, nutrients and moisture. You can’t control spores, which are everywhere. The paper facing and backing on drywall makes a wonderful food source for mold, as do the organic compounds in latex paint. The only factor that can be affected is moisture in the home. Moisture can come from outside through openings, damaged areas and construction defects (such as a lack of proper drainage systems inside wall cavities) or inside sources such as plumbing leaks or overuse of furnace humidifiers. Natural gas appliances without proper venting—such as “ventless” fireplaces–can also be a source of moisture (water vapor is one product of combustion). If your home has an obvious mold problem, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on remediation only to see the problem return if the moisture source isn’t found and addressed. Mold growth can begin again in as little as 48 hours. For humorous, yet informational look at the mold testing/remediation industry, see Marko Vovk of House Investigation’s YouTube video. More information can also be found at www.forensic-applications.com.
Do you offer mold testing?
No. We do, however, perform moisture intrusion inspections, which can help locate sources of the moisture that mold requires in order to grow.
What is a moisture intrusion inspection?
A moisture intrusion inspection is performed by specialists who implement a variety of technologies such as digital hygrometers, infrared cameras, capacitance and conductance moisture meters and more—to ferret out the hidden and not-so-hidden high moisture areas lurking in the basement, crawlspace, kitchen, bathroom or attic of your home or building.
Do you offer Moisture Intrusion Inspections?
Yes. We have certified thermographers (specialists trained in the use of infrared camera technology) on staff. To learn more about our services, visit our Moisture Intrusion Inspection page. (Please use your browser’s “back” button to return to the FAQ.)
Do you offer asbestos testing?
No. Thousands of products were manufactured that contained asbestos. This was mostly intentional, due to its thermal and fire-resistant properties, in products such as heating system pipe and duct wrap and in the sidewalls of toasters, but sometimes accidental as in the case of the Zonolite brand of vermiculite home insulation. Vermiculite itself is not a hazard (it’s the same mineral found in many potting soils, only “popped” sort of like popcorn to give it insulating properties), but the mine this particular brand came from was contaminated with asbestos. Up to half of the homes in Chicago that were insulated with vermiculite (up until about the 1950’s) were done so with the Zonolite brand. How can you tell if a product in your home contains asbestos? Unless it is labeled as such or you send a sample to a laboratory for testing, you can’t. And neither can a home inspector. What a home inspector can tell you, however, is whether a material they see (such as pipe wrap or 9”x 9” linoleum floor tiles) is of a type and age that *may* contain asbestos.
Should I be concerned about the presence of asbestos?
Products that contain asbestos don’t generally pose a hazard if they are intact. Asbestos becomes a health risk when a product is damaged and the fibers become airborne, or “friable”. Unlike, say, the fibers in fiberglass insulation, which generally will work their way out of the lungs if accidentally inhaled (the fibers are basically straight), asbestos fibers are barbed, sort of like a fish hook. When inhaled, they become lodged in the lung tissue and can cause a variety of serious illnesses, including lung cancer (especially in smokers). This is why the EPA recommends containment of the material and disturbing it as little as possible over removal of the material (which must be done by trained specialists). This may include taking measures such as putting new flooring directly over old 9”x 9” tiles or putting a protective covering around pipe insulation (or encasing it with drywall). For more complete and official information about asbestos in homes, visit the EPA’s website.
LEAD PAINT TESTING
Do you offer lead paint testing?
No. If your home was built prior to 1978, it most likely contains lead paint. The only way to be certain is to have a sample tested in a laboratory or have a trained specialist come out with an XRF machine (a portable X-ray device which can determine lead content). Why don’t we offer this service? For one thing, an XRF costs in the neighborhood of $15-20,000. For another, the age of the home is a pretty good indicator of whether lead-based paint is present, and the more important question is whether there is a lead paint hazard. Please see below.
Should I be concerned about the presence of lead paint?
As with asbestos, lead-based paint only becomes a potential health hazard when the material becomes damaged or dust particles become airborne (most commonly around moveable painted components such as windows and doors). The biggest risk is to small children. Elevated lead levels in their bodies can cause developmental and physical problems, and they are more likely to accidentally ingest dust or small particles by, for instance, touching a windowsill and then putting their fingers in their mouths. In adults, it can cause damage to internal organs and reproductive problems. Also like asbestos, the EPA recommends containment over removal, which can cause the material to be spread around if done improperly by someone not trained in hazardous waste disposal. As long as the paint is well-maintained and surfaces cleaned regularly (a solution containing dishwasher detergent, such as Cascade, or soap specifically made for cleaning lead dust is recommended), health risks can be minimized. For more complete and official information about lead-based paint in homes, visit the EPA’s website.