Jeff Spicoli was ahead of his time!

I Dunno?!

The classic teenager response when asked a question. I dunno! It drives us crazy, right? Remember in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Jeff Spicoli (played by a young Sean Penn) told Mr. Hand that he didn’t know? It was hilarious in that movie, but not in real life.

In the world of home inspections, we used to think that “I don’t know” was a bad thing. But, as technology marches forward at an unrelenting pace, keeping up with the newest products, innovations, and building science is difficult. So, we have come to realize that “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer for a home inspector to answer certain questions. However, this response should always be followed up with, “But I will find out for you”.

Jeff Spicoli, “Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?”

Mr. Hand, “Gee, Mr. Spicoli, I don’t know!”

i dont know 1

Home inspectors are NOT know-it-alls

One person simply cannot know everything. Even the new thermostats that we see in homes are a bit confusing. There are so many different types of controls for the new heating systems that we see. Testing the basic functions may be the only thing that your inspector is able to do at the inspection.

One person cannot know everything. We like to think we do, but there are things we have not seen in our market. Our entire inspection business has been in the Chicagoland and Southern Wisconsin geography. If somebody called us asking about an inspection in downtown Milwaukee, we probably would not feel comfortable scheduling it. They have weird stuff up there that we do not have in northern Illinois. Steam meters, house traps, and Milorganite (look it up if you don’t know!) just to name a few.

There is no substitute for experience

As we continue to hire, train and deploy new inspectors in our market we have come to realize that researching items after our inspections is not only acceptable, but is desirable in providing the best information for our clients. We have various resources available to us that provide information about ages, life expectancies, and expected performance of various building systems. In addition, internet chat rooms, text message strings, and other technology have helped us to get the best information to our clients. We encourage all inspectors to tell clients that “I’ll get back to you” if they don’t know an answer.

We currently have over 50 cumulative years of inspection experience and 75 years of construction experience on tap to share with each other. And this is just within our company. The American Society of Home Inspectors ( has member forums that allow us to trade ideas and investigate problems with other experienced inspectors. We can tap into thousands of years of experience.


If your inspector does not know the answer to your question or is confused by a system or systems in your new home, don’t be alarmed. If they are doing their job, they will investigate and get back to you- Just like Jeff Spicoli!

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