Seminars from All About Homes

We have lots of great seminars available for real estate professionals. These are tried and true - all have been realtor tested and approved! If you would like a seminar in your office, just give us a call. Custom topics are always available upon request.

Click here to download the latest seminar information from All About Homes

A Word About Split-Face Block Buildings in Chicago

If you've looked at condo buildings in the city of Chicago you've inevitably come across a building with brick on the front and either rough or smooth concrete block on the sides. The homes inside the building are often very lovely with high-end finishes and great layouts. In addition to the great interiors, the price is usually lower than many other comparable types of homes. Seems like a great deal? Well, this is definitely one of those "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is" situations.

These 'split-faced' or 'smooth-faced' concrete block buildings are complicated. If they are not properly built, maintained AND inspected then heart-break and financial ruin can exaggeration. I've lost count of the homeowners I've worked with through the years AFTER they've learned that their building is full of mold or structurally compromised. Inevitably the original home inspector never said a word about possible problems during the inspection or the home buyer chose to ignore the advice they were given. I've worked with too many people living in these buildings who have lost their savings, been unable to move, been unable to inhabit their homes and had to alter major life decisions like getting married, divorced or having children...all because of problems with concrete block buildings. I am honestly NOT exaggerating. I hope I never get another call from someone who says, "I need to sell my home but there's water damage inside, it smells like mold and my association won't spend the money to fix it. What should I do?"

If you are considering the purchase of a condo, townhome or single-family home built with concrete block then you NEED an inspector who is well-versed in this construction and can help you understand what it means for a home owner. It cannot be ignored or taken lightly. I have helped countless people make informed decisions about whether or not to purchase. I've also helped many people deal with it once they are home owners. I've consulted with numerous condo associations as they try to determine the best  course of action. There is  A LOT of bad information out there and I can help clear it up.

I would be honored to help you by performing the most thorough and informative inspection possible. I am available to consult with existing home owners and associations who are either trying to prevent problems or solve existing issues. Please call me if you need help!

Here is a link to a recent story done by WTTW. I see this stuff everyday and I still found this disturbing to watch. Sadly, I can verify everything they say in this story. As disturbing as this is so much better to know the risks BEFORE you own it!

Articles and Handouts

Here are some articles and presentations we've put together. Feel free to use them as you see fit. Just be sure to give credit (on the front page of the document) to All About Homes. These are all our original content.

What To Expect At Your Home Inspection - For Buyers

How To Prepare Your Home For Sale - For Sellers

Things to Consider BEFORE the Offer - For Buyer's Agents

Common Element Inspections - For Condo Associations

Ice Damming Overview

Tankless Water Heaters

Homeowner Myths

Recommendations and Resources


Contractor Resources

We cannot put enough emphasis on the fact that a good contractor is worth every penny that you pay. DO NOT always go with the lowest quote...that strategy rarely pays off in the long run. We highly recommend obtaining at least THREE estimates for any major work. Check with the Better Business Bureau and other resources like Angie's List before hiring. These are just suggestions; people and companies can change. PLEASE let us know if you have either good or bad experiences with any of the folks on this list. We need your feedback!

  • Appliance Repair:
    Ivan Velez

  • Architect:
    Sam Marts

  • Asbestos
    Asbestos Removal
    Bill Brennan, 773-725-8600

    Asbestos Testing
    GeoCon, 708-535-9981

  • Attorneys:
    Rick Sora
    (847) 568-5625

    Tracey Nihem
    (847) 866-6137

    Peter Marx
    (773) 283-8960

  • Basement Waterproofing/Foundations/Crack Repair
    PermaSeal 800-421-7325

    The Crack Team/Mr. Happy Crack

    866-CRACK-TEAM (check out this website - hilarious)

  • Bungalows
    Chicago Bungalow Association

  • Carpet Cleaning
    Galaxy's Finest

    Central Rug, Evanston,

  • Chimney Sweeps/Fireplaces
    Ye Olde Chimney Sweeps

  • Cleaning Services
    Flor's Cleaning, Talk to Elliot
    I tried almost a dozen cleaning services before I found Elliot and his wonderful staff. As long as I'm in Chicago, no one else will ever clean my house! Service area is basically The Lake to Kedzie and Roosevelt to Evanston border.

  • Closets
    Custom Closets

  • Crawl Space Repair/Insulation/Vapor Barriers
    Clean Space

    A Better Crawlspace

  • Decks and Porches
    Framar Porches and Decks

    Chicago Porch Company

  • Duct Cleaning
    Chicago Duct Cleaners

  • Electricians
    Ardmore Electric

  • Fencing Repair and Installation
    Advanced Fence & Gate

  • Feng Shui Consultant/Home Staging
    Lyn Volare
    Lyn is also an amazing live-in pet sitter in case you ever need someone you can trust to stay in your home with your critters.

  • Flooring
    Advanced Hardwood Flooring

    Ask for Igor
    847-674-7500 x 11

  • Furnaces, Air Conditioning and Boilers (HVAC)
    AA Service
    Shawn Mansfield (talk to Shawn for complicated diagnostic stuff, call the main office for annual service). These folks do the work on my crazy old house and I can't say enough good things about them. Shawn fixed one of the most messed up radiant heating systems I've ever seen - mine!

    John O'Brien (talk to John for complicated diagnostic stuff, call the main office for annual service)
    Four Seasons

  • General Contractors
    Granite Pro
    Ed Diamond (these are wonderful general contractors despite the name - they are not just about granite)

    Get Dwell
    847-922-3418 (northshore and city, general contractors/handymen)

    Redstone Builders

  • Granite
    Poma Marble

  • Handyman/General Contractor
    Get Dwell (Be sure you have at least a half-a-day's work before you call)

    Leo Togneri (Be sure you have at least a half-a-day's work before you call)

  • Insurance
    Tom McWherter
    American Family

  • Landscaping and Snow Removal
    Eric's Landscaping

  • Lock Smiths
    Collier Lock Service (specializes in intercom systems)

    J&R Lock & Save

    Tom's Locksmith

  • Masons
    Classic Restoration (If you need a concrete block expert, Jim's your guy. Talk to Jim and only Jim.)
    Jim Mahoney

  • Mold Remediation and Inspection
    Bussey Environmental
    Brian Bussey

  • Movers
    Raffe Movers

  • Painters
    David Fitzpatrick

    Kathy Firek

          Dale Carter

  • Pest Control/Termite Inspections
    Tech One
    Scott Kauffman

  • Pond Cleaning and Maintenance
    Tom's Pond Service

  • Plumbers and Catch Basins/Sewers
    Sewer Viewer
    William Somerville (Catch Basins and drain line viewing). PLEASE don't buy a single family home without hiring Bill and Gale to check out your drain lines! It is worth EVERY penny.

    Tierra - Catch Basin Cleaning

    JR's Plumbing - JR's the guy for all general plumbing needs

  • Roofers (Besides roofs, most roofers also work with soffits, gutters, ice damming issues and electric gutter heating coils. Some even work on chimneys.)

    Nelson Roofing - talk to Warner - nicest roofer you'll ever meet!
    (773) 736-4600

    Hanson Roofing

  • Security Systems
    Alert Protective Services

  • Siding and Windows
    Siding 1 Windows 1

  • Structural Engineers
    Collins Engineering

  • Waste Removal
    Rob - comes and hauls away whatever you've got
    (312) 317-2623

  • Windows
    The Great Window Wizard Company - window repairs and adjustments
    (773) 467-0861


This list is meant as a resource only. All About Homes bears no responsibility for any work done by these contractors or services provided or products purchased. All About Homes receives no compensation for any referrals made to any vendors.