What is a Home Inspection?

A Cornerstone home inspection is a professional, objective, visual examination of the condition of a home. Our home inspections will cover all of the major systems, including structure, exterior, roofing, electrical, heating, cooling, insulation, plumbing and interior. Our inspectors are licensed by the State of Illinois and adhere to the Standards of Practice set forth by the Office of Banks and Real Estate.

Many of our clients want to know what their home inspector will be looking for in advance. Because there are so many things to look at during a hime inspection, we have made a checklist of the most common things our inspectors check for. Of course every property is unique and has it’s own special quirks and extra needs. That is why we believe in taking the time to examine each property thoroughly and thoughtfully so that nothing important is missed.

What does a Home Inspector Look At?

Structure and Foundation

The foundation is the most important part of a home, so of course it is something we look at during a home inspection. We will check the foundation cracks or other issues. Next the inspector will move on to check the floors, walls, and ceilings for structural issues. We will also look for evidence of termites or other pests that could cause structural issues in the long term.

Building Exterior

Inspecting a building’s exterior is critical for spotting potential problems that can be very costly. An interior inspection will include an evaluation of roofing, gutters, siding, trim, windows, and doors. In many cases there are extra exterior items to inspect such as decks, patios, garage doors, exterior lighting, chimneys, and even pools.


Leaky roofs can lead to many other problems including moisture, mold, and structural problems. We inspect the roof as part of all property inspections. Our inspectors will point out potential problems and do their best to estimate how long your roof may last before needing major repairs or a replacement.


When inspecting a property’s plumbing there are several things we look for. We generally start to make sure that the water heater is functioning and will product hot water. We will also check visible water lines and drains for leaks. Plumbing doesn’t include only your water pipes. When performing a plumbing inspection, we also check gas lines and gas appliances for leaks and carbon monoxide.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Part of our home inspection includes a look at the heating and air conditioning systems. As part of an HVAC inspection, in addition to making sure the furnace or boiler produces heat, we will also remove the cover and flame shield to inspect the condition of the appliance. Air conditioner are also tested as part of a routine HVAC check. Lastly, we will make sure that the thermostat operates this equipment properly.


As part of our electrical inspection, we will remove the electrical panel cover and observe the wiring for any major problems. The inspector will also test ground fault circuit interrupt (G.R.C.I ) outlets and breakers and trip buttons if possible. Next the inspector will check outlets, switches, and other fixtures to look for any other wiring issues such as non working outlets or outlets with reversed polarity.

Built in Appliances

Built-in appliances include those kitchen appliances that are incorporated into your cabinet design as opposed to those that are free-standing. Common built-in appliances include wall ovens, cook-top ranges and dishwashers. Such appliances can be hard-wired into your electrical system or plugged into an outlet beneath the counter.


We inspect the condition of your garage structure, whether it be an attached garage or detached configuration. The scope of our garage inspection isolates each section of your garage and checks for specific structural,performance, and safety issues. The common components that our garage inspection includes:

  • garage structure and foundation
  • overhead garage doors
  • garage door operator
  • exterior garage door
  • garage firewall and fire safety measures

Basement Moisture Conditions

Most basements, by the sheer nature of the fact that they are built into the ground, present the possibility that water can intrude, turning what was once a dry basement into a wet basement. This is because water in the soil can put constant pressure on basement walls. Plus, water follows the path of least resistance inside a home and over time can find its way into a basement.

Home buyers entering the marketplace view inspections as a way to gain valuable information about the biggest purchase of their lifetime. It helps them to determine whether there are any major defects or system inadequacies at the time of purchase. In most cases, home inspections are performed after a sales contract, conditional upon a satisfactory home inspection, has been accepted by the seller. The inspection can usually be arranged immediately to within a few days. The home buyer is typically encouraged to attend the inspection, so that he/she can see first hand the workings of the home. It also represents an excellent opportunity for the prospective buyer to ask questions about the home or to discuss potential changes. Home inspections should also highlight the positive aspects of a home. In fact, many of the home inspector’s observations or recommendations help to dispel home purchaser anxieties, and provide useful repair suggestions.

Cornerstone’s service to the purchaser is primarily one of education. The goal of our inspectors is to provide the purchaser with a better understanding of the physical condition of the home in order that they can make a well-informed decision. We also feel that it is our role to keep our findings in perspective for the buyer. Our report is computer-generated and email the same day for easier storage and distribution to attorneys or agents. The home inspection should not be confused with an appraisal, a municipal code inspection, an environmental audit, or a home owner’s warranty.