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What to Ask Before Hiring a Home Inspector: An Interview with Sal Catanese of Home Inspection Total Services, Inc.

By Sal Catanese

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

HITS Inc. was started in 1996 as a 1 person inspection company. We have grown to a 6 inspector company with a full time office manager and a full time radon technician. We do home inspections for residential and commercial properties, radon testing, mold testing and pest inspections. As State of Illinois Education Providers, we are one of the largest trainers of home inspectors in the state and our proprietary software, The Perfect Report, is used by inspectors throughout Illinois. We are members of ASHI, The American Society of Home Inspectors, the foremost professional organization in this field.

What are the qualifications that home inspectors are required to have?

As of 2003 Illinois required that all inspectors be licensed by the State. In order to do this, a person must pass a State licensed class and pass the State of Illinois home inspector test. In our company we also require our inspectors to go through a rigorous apprenticeship program before they can be lead inspectors.

Are there any additional qualifications that home buyers/sellers should look for in a potential home inspector?

For home buyers the key element in choosing an inspector or inspection company should be the experience of the inspector rather than background history. Like any craft, it takes time to develop the skills necessary to have a solid inspection process, to determine the cause and severity of issues that are found, and to write a thorough and comprehensive report of those findings. It is also crucial that the inspection company itself provide all the services required by the buyer so that the entire process is seamless and timely. Additionally, the report should be digital and delivered electronically at the end of the inspection with photographs depicting problem areas. Time is a key factor in the inspection process and deadlines are contractually enforceable.

Are all home inspections done using the team approach? Can you briefly explain why that's important?

In building our company we developed a process that requires 2 licensed inspectors perform every inspection as a team. This is becoming a method that is widespread among good companies and one which offers the buyer double the protection of the single inspector method. Since a home inspection by state law is a visual inspection of the property, the more eyes that can view the home and the more thought processes that come into play, the better the analysis will be. For example, running the water for more than 30 minutes at each home can expose problems that as a single inspector I was never able to discover since I was unable to walk away from running water. With 2 inspectors that problem has been removed. We will send as many inspectors as the size and complexity of the property demands. This method also allows us to complete the process in a timely manner which is beneficial to all concerned. We recently inspected a 22,000 sq. ft home and sent a 4 inspector team, trained in the team approach. The inspection was comprehensive, thorough and timely, completed in approximately 3 hours.

What should be included in a high-quality, thorough home inspection report?

A quality home inspection should be comprised of 2 elements: an analysis of the major systems of the home including the roof, foundation, plumbing, heating and electrical systems and the livability of the home determining what it will be like to live in the home including the operation of all appliances, windows, doors and plumbing fixtures and also an analysis of all safety features. A quality inspection report should describe the visual condition of all aspects of the home and a summary listing any significant opinions of the inspector that should be understood by the buyer and the buyer's attorney. The report should contain photographs of significant problems. It should be digital and be able to emailed immediately following the inspection.

What would you tell people who are looking for an experienced home inspector?

For a buyer seeking to set up a home inspection the crucial questions I would ask are:
1. How many licensed inspectors will be inspecting the home?
2. How experienced are the inspectors?
3. When will I receive the report? (Immediately following the inspection, emailed from the home)
4. Does the company encourage the buyer to be present? (Absolutely. It is a better inspection when the buyer is present)
5. Does the company provide the necessary extra services like Radon and Mold that I may want? (All good companies should)

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

To schedule an inspection with HITS Inc. you can reach our office manager, Mary Alice, by calling 847-217-5958 or emailing her at

You can visit our website at to learn more about our inspection company or to learn about becoming a licensed home inspector.

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