Call us and we’ll figure that out together.  There are number of factors that need to be considered.  The most important ones are:  How old is the home? / Where is it located? / What is the architectural style of the home?

It is comprehensive review of all systems / amenities that are typical of a residential property.  I won’t list everything here, but understand that we invest the inspection time (2-3 hours) so that you have a thorough understanding of the home.

The report we use has been painstaking developed over the 17 years we’ve been in business.  We have obsessed over detail and clarity in an easy to read format.  We never considered a pre-formatted / hard to read report.  All houses are not equal and neither should be the reports.  Click here to see a sample report.

Within 24 hours.  Our reports take a little longer to create because of the level of detail we include and the easy to read format.

Somewhere between 2 and 3 hours.  If the house is large or has duplicate systems it will be closer to 3 hours.

We make every effort to accommodate your desire.  We acknowledge that most people can’t just randomly take time off from work.

Licensed professionals should be hired. Too many times I am called back to inspect a repair that was completed by the seller’s “Uncle Louie”.  It is not unusual for these repairs to be inadequate or incomplete.  Licensed professionals will pull permits, give firm quotes and most importantly are obliged (under law) to back their materials and workmanship for at least one year.  The best professionals will offer references of past clients.

Not all “flip houses” are created equal!  All too typically the flipper has completed the needed update to make the house look pretty.  The paint is fresh, the floor coverings are new, the home has been artfully staged, etc.  Often times “looking under the hood” reveals that the roof will need replacement in less than two years, the water heater is leaking, some of the windows won’t stay open, etc,  The “prettied up” portions of the home appeals to your emotion …. and as a result you write an offer.  The reality may be that the home will need serious mechanical updating in the near term.  Ask the current owner for the receipts from all completed repairs.

Some low down payment mortgages will stipulate that some repairs be completed before the mortgage can be issued.  In these cases the appraiser not only determines the value of the home, but can also serve as an “inspector for the bank”.  The bank’s concern is that you don’t take on an unexpected major expense shortly after closing on your new home.  You could be put in a position of struggling with not only a new (larger?) house payment, but also the cost of replacing maybe the roof?

Some of the most common questions I get involve windows.  Window technology has gone through considerable change over the last 100 years. Window designs have become both more weather tight and more resistant to energy transfer.

The windows (if original) in the oldest homes I inspect are typically a single pane double hung design of wood construction.  Wood is not the best material as regards weather resistance and the single pane design offers only nominal resistance to energy transfer.  If these old windows are kept in service, usually a storm window is added to the exterior which reduces both inner window exposure to the weather and provides a wind stop for the inner glass.  This change alone makes a considerable improvement to the old design.

Perhaps the most significant improvement to residential window design is the inclusion of thermopane glazing – 2 or 3 panes of glass bonded together in a unit. This improvement combined with modern insulated frames of fiberglass or vinyl make the windows considerably more weather resistant and have superior insulating qualities.  Wood construction remains popular, but vinyl is typically bonded to at least the exterior surfaces for reasons of weather resistance.

“Should I replace my windows?” 

That depends ….

If the windows are outright failing (rotting and / or are loose in their frames) – yes indeed.  A failed window will no longer open and close reliably and it’s leaking energy in a big way (especially during the winter).

If the windows are in fair condition (maybe need repainting and / or hardware replacement) maybe not.  How long are you going live in this house?

Window replacement is expensive.  And generally, the value of your home is not significantly increased with the addition of modern replacement windows.  Buyers like new windows, but they won’t give you any more money for your home.  Likely it will just be a little bit easier to sell.  So – if you have average windows (that might benefit from modest repair) AND you plan to keep this house for say ….. less than 7 years – fix the old windows.  The only exception to this guideline would be if the cost of natural gas and propane take spikes.  This would change the “return on investment’ formula (shorten up the payback).

If you’re planning on ownership extending beyond 10 years and your windows are kind of clunky – by all means get some quotes and fit it in your budget.


I will share it with anyone you designate – typically your agent unless there’s only one  agent (sellers – listing agent).

Every Searchlight Inspection includes free technical consulting (by phone) for as long as you own the property.  We retain an archive of every home inspection.  Call us and we will have a copy of your report in front of us within 5 minutes.

Although the procedure for inspecting a new home is the same as for any other home, what the new home inspection reveals is typically different.  Builders are not perfect.  They neglect to complete some tasks and won’t include some features unless you have specifically asked for them.  The new home inspection includes a revisit at month 11 where we review and produce a new report to take advantage of the builder’s warranty obligation.

The procedure is the same, but income property buyers usually have some very specific concerns.  Positive cash flow is the primary concern.  They weigh our recommended repairs and initial purchase cost against the rent revenue the property will generate.

Most of the time the answer is yes.  My 25 years of engineering experience working in both industrial and commercial environments aids me in the inspection of these properties.

Just like any other mechanical thing, furnaces have an approximate life expectancy. Depending on the type of furnace and company that manufactured it, furnaces last between 18 and 30 years.  When your furnace breaks down, it is critical that you hire a furnace company that you trust!  Don’t let anybody kid you …. even older furnaces can be repaired with reliability.  Do you already know someone who is a licensed HVAC technician?  They might be your best choice.  Some companies will pressure you in to buying a new furnace regardless of whether your old furnace can be reliably repaired!

Maybe.  The relative abundance of natural gas has not caused prices to spike in the last 5 years – which is good news.  Most older homes in west Michigan have received at least modest energy updates.  An older (not too well insulated) home may not be a bad choice.  It will likely depend on your term of ownership.  If your stay in that home is short (less than 5 years) the extra you will pay will be brief.  There would not likely be a payback for a large energy efficiency improvement.  Improving energy efficiency will make the home more attractive to the next buyer, but typically does not add significant value.

That depends on the foundation material and nature of the crack(s).  Most modern poured concrete foundations will have at least some cracks.  The small cracks are usually as a result of the concrete curing and don’t represent a structural issue.  Horizontal cracking in a concrete block foundation can be of concern.  The older stone and mortar foundations need regular maintenance (replacement of crumbling mortar) to assure their integrity.