December, 2010
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Editor's Note: Who has Answers?


Every once in awhile, I wish there was a home inspector around to answer my questions. This happened recently, when I attended a function at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook, Ill. Mayslake Hall, the Tudor Revival Style country house on the 38-acre estate, was built by Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, whose company was, at one time, the nation’s largest coal producer. Designed by the architectural firm of Marshall & Fox, the 39-room Tudor Revival mansion cost $750,000, took two years to build and was completed in 1921. Today the local forest preserve district is restoring it.

Thus my wish for a home inspector among my fellow attendees — who better to provide the back story on what it takes to meld historic restoration with modern-day functionality.

There was a wealth of restoration information, such as how many of the aluminum windows installed during the 1970s have been replaced with leaded glass fabricated according to original drawings of the 200 windows and doors around the Hall. And, how the “stucco-duro” ceiling (applied, molded plaster) was stripped of countless layers of paint, and new molds created for areas that were damaged beyond repair.

But I was left wondering about the challenges of heating and cooling this sprawling estate so that it meets the expectations of today’s visitors. I would have enjoyed hearing what an eagle-eyed home inspector would have said about the exterior of the building — the brickwork, roof, drainage systems and more.

It’s been my experience that if you want to know about the nuts and bolts of a building — new or old — ask a home inspector, specifically an ASHI member. As a group, I find home inspectors to be students of their craft, highly observant, detail-oriented and excellent problem solvers.

 Oh, and might you agree with me if I add opinionated to that list (in a good way, of course)?

I hope that by offering a platform for ASHI members to share their knowledge and their experiences, we facilitate all who remain students of their craft throughout their careers, who then are prepared to answer questions from people like me..
Although there wasn’t a home inspector available at Mayslake Hall, this editor appreciates that ASHI members have taught me there always are questions to be asked.