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What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the condition of the physical structure and different systems of a house by a trained and certified professional. Most often performed during the sale or purchase of a home, the home inspection is like a doctor’s physical check-up, identifying areas of concern as well as valuable maintenance for the future of the home. The results of the inspection are then carefully documented and delivered in a written report that is provided to the client, which can then be used to make informed decisions about a home sale or negotiating a pending home purchase.

At what point in the home buying process do I hire a home inspector?

Typically, a home inspector is contacted immediately after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed. Before you sign, be sure there is an inspection clause in the sales contract, making your final purchase obligation contingent on the findings of a professional home inspection. 

What is the difference between a home buyer’s inspection and a home seller’s inspection?

The basic inspection process is the same. The difference is in how the information gained is used by the client. A buyer who has put in an accepted offer on a house will typically hire an inspector during their option period to assess the home for any major defects and other issues. The knowledge gained allows the buyer to make informed decisions about the house’s condition and the cost of repairs, and any related price negotiation.  

A home seller may hire an inspector to identify problems with their house so they can address them before putting their house on the market. This can help lay the groundwork for a quick sale and potentially a higher sale price.

What does a Finest Home Inspection include?

A Finest Home Inspection covers the inspection requirements of the State of Illinois Standards of Practice as well as the more thorough requirements of the leading trade organization, InterNACHI, (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). This is what Finest inspects:

The Roof: 
Roof covering, roof structure, roof vents, chimneys, skylights, gutters, downspouts, and flashing.

The Exterior: 
Wall cladding, flashing, trim, eaves, soffits, fascia, windows, doors, decks, stairs, stoops, porches, railings, surrounding vegetation, grading, drainage, driveways, retaining walls, and walkways.

Garages and Carports (and other outbuildings by special arrangement)

The Interior:
Walls, ceilings, floors, steps, stairways, balconies, railings, counters, cabinets, windows, and doors.

Structural Components:
Foundations, basements, crawlspaces, attics, roof structure, piers, beams, and columns.

Plumbing System

Electric System

Heating and Cooling Systems


Sump Pump

Water, Gas, and Electric shut-offs

Safety Systems:
Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers


Attic and Crawl Space Ventilation

Built-In Kitchen Appliances:
Dishwasher, range, range hood, oven, cooktop, microwave, trash compactor, garbage disposal, washer, dryer.

Yes, that’s a long list! It is possible some of these items might not be accessible at the time of inspection. If any of these elements can’t safely or reasonably be inspected, we will let you know in the report and ideally in person.

What does a home inspection not include?

Some of the items typically not included in an inspection are:  an air quality test, a water quality test, lawn/landscape assessment (beyond any that is very near or up against the exterior of the house), irrigation systems, pools, hot tubs, and fences. For a list of what is and isn't inspected, please see the Standards of Practice.

A home inspection is not protection against future failures. Stuff happens! Components like air conditioners and heat systems can and will break down. A home inspection tells you the condition of the component at the time it was inspected.

A home inspection is not an appraisal that determines the value of a home, nor is it a code inspection which verifies local building code compliance. A home inspector does not pass or fail a house. Homes built before code revisions are not obligated to comply with the current codes. Home inspectors will report findings when it comes to safety concerns that may be in the current code such as ungrounded outlets above sinks. A home inspector thinks "Safety" over "Code" when performing a home inspection.

Remember…the home inspection is limited to what we can see with a bit of digging, but no holes in the walls allowed!

Do you test for Radon?

Finest Home Inspection is licensed by the State of Illinois to test radon gas levels (IL Licence #RNIT2017202). We use state of the art Continuous Radon Monitors, producing a detailed report of hour by hour radon gas readings. Radon testing monitors are left at the home for a minimum of two days. If radon testing is desired, we will coordinate it with the home inspection, ideally so the results are ready with the home inspection report. The cost for radon testing is typically $180. If a second monitor is required, the cost is $280.

Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. By testing for this colorless, odorless gas, houses can be remediated for protection.

Radon is found throughout Champaign County in varying degrees. If high Radon levels are discovered, sometimes the buyer and seller will agree to share the cost of installing a Radon Mitigation System which generally costs $1,000 - $2,000.

Do you get on the roof?

Not all inspectors do and it’s not a requirement of the State of Illinois or any of the professional trade organizations. Finest recognizes the importance of a sound roof in protecting your investment. Jon will make every effort to walk the roof. He has tall ladders and a harness and will do his best to give you a clear picture of the roof structure and all its parts. Alternatively, he can get close-up photography using a camera with an extension boom pole from the roof’s edge. We feel viewing of the roof from the ground with binoculars alone is not an approach you should accept. 

What can I expect from Finest Home Inspection?
  • A thorough inspection performed by Jon Ellis—a skilled and licensed (IL #450.011581) home inspector who is prompt, has good communication skills, and delivers on what he promises.
  • A well-written, detailed, and easy to understand home inspection report, typically delivered within 24 hours after the physical inspection. The report will include photos, illustrations and reference material all in a clear, easy-to-read format to help you make informed decisions. This is not a checklist, but instead a detailed narrative telling you the unabridged story of your home. The report will also include a summary pointing you to the most significant findings.
  • A great introduction to the house in easy-to-understand language; a guide for future maintenance considerations for years to come.
  • Competent and helpful customer service.
  • Quick response time and flexible scheduling.
  • Our help answering your questions for as long as you own the home.
Tell me about the home inspection report I will receive.

Finest Home Inspection uses Home Gauge reporting software to create a well-organized, professional report that provides thorough documentation of your home inspection results. Your report goes through the entire house, section by section, using clear wording to explain the good and the bad. Pictures, illustrations, and narratives show and explain the issues you need to be aware of. Most reports average between 20-40 pages, but if more photos or illustrations are necessary the report can be longer. The report will be as long as necessary for you to have a full documentation and understanding of the property's condition. See the “What is included in a Finest Home Inspection?” question and answer for details on what categories and items are inspected and included in the report.

In order to help provide the information a home buyer most needs during an often time-sensitive option period, the report starts with a Summary. This will highlight the most important defects, safety concerns, and maintenance items that may be of consideration in price negotiations, or before/soon after possession. Next, the report shows where the important shut-offs are located so you can quickly and competently turn off the water, gas, or electricity in an emergency. The following report sections describe all the findings of the inspection in detail.

While the report may be long, don’t let it intimidate you unnecessarily! There will always be issues discovered in the inspection process. Finest believes the outstanding value of a report to a homebuyer is to provide you with a wealth of information to thoroughly acquaint you with your new home and a guidebook for the future so you can best care for and enjoy your home for many years to come.

Finest will deliver an electronic copy of the full report, typically within 24 hours after the inspection. If you have specific time constraints, please let us know—we can likely accommodate them. Click here to see a Finest Sample Report.

What if the report reveals problems?

No house is perfect. Problems are found in every house. This doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. If your budget is tight, or if you don’t want to become involved in future repair work, this information will be important to you. If major defects are discovered, a seller may agree to help with repairs.

Every problem has a solution. Solutions vary from a simple fix of the component to adjusting the purchase price. Having a home inspection allows problems to be revealed and appropriately considered before the sale closes.

If the house proves to be in good condition, did I really need an inspection?

Definitely. Even if your home is brand new, there can be building errors or oversights you might not know about until well after move-in. Having completed an inspection, you can complete your home purchase with the utmost confidence knowing more fully what your money is buying. You’ll have learned many things about your new home from the inspection and report that can help you with future maintenance considerations, and you will have that information to refer back to for as long as you own the home. 

What will it cost?

Most inspections cost in the range of $290- $450, depending mainly on the size and age of the home. Please see our Inspections page for more details on pricing, or just call 217-552-2700 for an estimate. If it is after 10:00 pm, please leave a message.

Price should not be the main factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection or who to select as your home inspector. Your home is likely to be your biggest investment. The knowledge gained from an inspection that informs sound decision-making is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection is not necessarily a good deal.

Finest Home Inspection takes payment by cash, personal check, or major credit card. Payment is due at the time of the physical inspection.

How long does the inspection take?

The average home inspection takes between 2-3 hours. Older and larger homes can take longer. Putting together the report after the physical inspection takes a fair bit of additional time, but that will be done later, off-site.

Should I plan to attend the inspection?

It’s not required, but it is certainly recommended. You are encouraged to follow along for all or part of the inspection and ask as many questions as you like. It is a great opportunity to see first-hand what potential issues exist and learn to better identify maintenance needs in the future. Everything covered in the physical inspection will be in your report, with plenty of detailed photos to help you understand and remember specific items. If you can’t be there for the inspection, Jon can meet with you to go over the report in person or talk you through any questions or concerns you may have on the phone.

Why is it important to have a home inspected?

Home Buyers:

To minimize unpleasant surprises, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about your home before you buy it. A home inspection will help identify major defects or builder oversights, as well as maintenance considerations. After the inspection, you will know more about the house, which can inform price negotiations and purchase decisions now, and maintenance priorities down the road.

Home Sellers:

If you are planning to sell, a home inspection will help identify issues that you may then choose to address before putting the house on the market. Wouldn’t you rather know about issues first, before a potential buyer finds them? Addressing issues before going on the market puts the house in better selling condition, often leading to a quicker, smoother sale and/or a higher sale price.

Home Owners:

If you are a homeowner, a home inspection can identify problems in the making and suggest preventive measures that might help you avoid more costly repairs in the future.

A home inspection is not only an assessment of your home’s condition, it is also an introduction to your home, its story, and how to take good care of it going forward. You will be able to look back at your report years from now to review important maintenance considerations that you can use to prevent small maintenance needs from turning into major repair costs. 

Why can't I do it myself?

A certified inspector is familiar with all the elements of home construction, proper installation, maintenance, and home safety. They know how the home’s systems and components are intended to function together, as well as why they fail.

Even experienced homeowners, do-it-yourselfers or a friend or relative that is knowledgeable about homebuilding or maintenance is likely to lack the knowledge and expertise that a professional home inspector brings. Additionally, whether you are buying or selling, you are in the midst of what can be a very emotional process. Most buyers find it difficult to remain completely objective about a house they really want. Even those that don’t own a home inspection business will advise you that it is best to obtain an impartial, third-party opinion by a professional home inspector.

What is your service area?

Our Home Inspection business is based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. However, our service area is anywhere within Champaign County and the surrounding area. If you aren't sure whether that includes you, just give us a call.

Do you have insurance?

Yes, Finest is fully insured, with both General Liability Insurance as well as Professional Liability (E&O) Insurance.

Is your home inspector certified?

Yes. Jon Ellis is licensed by the State of Illinois as a Certified Home Inspector (IL License # 450.011581). Jon also holds a State of Illinois Radon Measurement Licence # RNIT2017202 which certifies him to test radon levels. 

Does your Finest Home Inspector belong to a professional trade organization?

Yes. Jon Ellis is a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), which requires ongoing education and testing to remain certified.  Jon is also an affiliate member of the Champaign County Association of Realtors.