Home Inspector versus City Building Inspector

I received a phone call just a few minutes ago from a prospective (hopefully) client. It got me thinking that I should blog this issue. She is looking at a house in Markham, Illinois. She wants to have the house inspected, but her husband said it didn't need to be inspected because the city of Markham requires that the home be inspected by the city inspector, for a $60 fee of course. She wanted to know the difference in the inspections. I told her that the "city inspector is basically going to check for code issues, will probably do the inspection without them present, would most likely only spend about 30 minutes on site, they would receive no education about the systems or components of the house, and that a code inspection does not necessarily mean best practice or safe". A home inspector is a different animal.

Home inspectors may, but are not required to perform a code inspection. But, more importantly, a home inspection is not a code inspection. It is about educating the client about the condition of the home and the components. I will give you an example, the city of Chicago requires that all electrical conductors be installed in metal conduit. Other cities in Illinois do not require this, non-metal clad conductors can be used. Is one way safer than the other? Do the laws of physics work differently in Chicago than other cities? Probably not, the point is that code is dependent upon the municipality. Home Inspectors are more concerned about safety, the condition of the components, and how likely systems will fail. There are other issues that are addressed, but those are the three major areas in my opinion.

If something is code but not safe or best practice, I tell the client that it doesn't matter if it is code. Code means that it is the bare minimum that needed to be done. Using our electrical example above, metal conduit is code in Chicago. This means that most installs will not have a ground wire because the metal conduit acts as the ground conductor. But, best practice would be to install a ground wire anyway. It is safer, and in the case of the metal conduit disconnecting for any reason, it keeps that ground source connected. A city inspector will just check on a sheet of paper that the metal conduit is present, a home inspector goes further.

The real difference is the education. The home inspector will spend an average of at least 2-3 hours performing the inspection with the client present. The client can ask questions and have issues addressed in real time, learn about the systems, an get an unbiased report of the condition.

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Merino's Home Inspection & Education Inc.
9029 Pebble Beach Lane
Orland Park, Illinois 60462

Orland Park home inspector
Tinley Park home inspector
Illinois Home Inspector License 450.010091
Illinois Home Inspector Entity License 451.000851