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How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take

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Home inspections are crucial stages in the home buying process. They offer an unbiased evaluation of a property’s condition, providing potential buyers with the knowledge they need before making their final decision. But how long does home inspection take? and what factors affect this? Let’s explore.

What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is an objective, visual examination of a property’s physical structure and systems, from the roof to the foundation. This includes elements such as plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, and more. Home inspectors aim to identify any current or potential issues that may affect a home’s value, safety, or livability. Typically, the buyer pays the home inspection cost, which can range between $300 to $500 depending on the home’s size and location.

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

An average home inspection can take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours. However, various factors can influence this duration. For instance, the size and age of the property, the thoroughness of the inspector, and the overall condition of the home all play a part. Larger or older homes may require a more extended inspection, while a detailed inspector may also take more time to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Size and Age of the Property: An inspection of a small, newly built house may take around 2 hours. In contrast, a large, older property could require a 4-hour inspection or even longer.
  • Inspector’s Thoroughness: While some inspectors might complete the process quicker, a more meticulous inspector can provide a more detailed report. This thorough inspection can increase the duration but can also save potential costly repairs in the future.
  • Home’s Condition: If a home is in poor condition or has a complex system, the inspection may take longer. Inspectors must look for potential problems like structural issues, mold, pest infestations (like termites), and malfunctioning systems.

It’s also worth noting that some inspectors might spend extra time on specific areas such as the septic tank or roof, especially if there are known issues. A termite inspection or a roof repair estimate, for instance, might add more time to the inspection duration.

What to Do Before a Home Inspection

To ensure a smooth inspection process, you can take a few steps before the home inspector arrives:

  • Clean the House: While home inspectors look past your clutter, a clean house can make the process easier and quicker.
  • Ensure Accessibility: Make sure all areas of the house, including the attic, basement, and any locked rooms, are accessible.
  • Keep Maintenance Records: If you’ve conducted any significant repairs or renovations, keep the records handy. This provides a clear picture of the house’s maintenance history.
  • Prepare for the Inspection: It’s recommended that buyers attend the home inspection. This allows you to ask questions and understand the condition of the property firsthand.
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By knowing what to expect and how long a home inspection might take, you can better plan and prepare for this crucial step in the home buying process.

What Do Home Inspectors Look at?

Home inspectors carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the property, focusing on several critical areas:

  • Structural Elements: This includes the foundation, walls, floors, and roof. Inspectors check for signs of damage or structural instability, such as cracks, sagging, or water intrusion.
  • Systems and Components: Inspectors review the home’s systems, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. They assess the age, installation, and functionality of these systems.
  • Exterior Evaluation: Inspectors assess the condition of the home’s exterior, including siding, windows, doors, and landscaping. They also evaluate the home’s drainage and grading to ensure it directs water away from the home.
  • Roof and Attic: The inspector will examine the roof’s condition, its structure, type of roof construction, ventilation, and if there are leaks or damage.
  • Interior Evaluation: This covers aspects like the condition of windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, and stairs. They also inspect insulation and ventilation.
  • Plumbing: Inspectors check for leaks, water damage, and the condition of the pipes, drains, and water heater.
  • Electrical Systems: The home’s wiring, circuit breaker, electrical outlets, light fixtures, and grounding systems are inspected.
  • Appliances: Built-in appliances like dishwashers, ovens, and ranges are tested for functionality.
  • Garages: Whether attached or detached, garages are inspected for proper door operation, ventilation, and electrical system conformity.

The goal is to uncover any issues that could become potential safety concerns or hefty expenses in the future.

When Does a Home Inspection Happen?

When Does a Home Inspection Happen

A home inspection typically happens after the seller has accepted the buyer’s offer but before the closing of the sale – what’s often referred to as being in “escrow” or “under contract”. This period allows the buyer to negotiate with the seller if any significant issues are found during the inspection. It’s a contingency that protects the buyer from unknowingly purchasing a home with serious problems.

What Happens After a Home Inspection

Once the home inspection is complete, the inspector will compile their findings in a comprehensive report. This document will outline any potential concerns, from minor maintenance issues to significant structural problems. Photographs are often included to provide a visual reference of the conditions noted.

After receiving the inspection report, the buyer can then:

  • Proceed with the purchase: If the inspection report is satisfactory, or the seller agrees to fix the identified issues, the buyer can continue with the transaction.
  • Renegotiate the purchase price: If the inspection unveils significant issues, the buyer may negotiate a lower price to account for repair costs.
  • Ask for repairs: The buyer can request the seller to fix specific problems before the sale.
  • Back out of the purchase: If the inspection report reveals major issues that the seller is unwilling to fix, and if the purchase contract has an inspection contingency, the buyer can choose to back out of the deal without penalty.
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Major Factors That Determine the Home Inspection Time

There’s a wide range of variables that contribute to the duration of a home inspection. These factors can influence the level of detail and scrutiny required, thus extending the time spent on the process.

The Size of the House

Larger houses naturally take longer to inspect due to more square footage, more rooms, and additional features such as multiple HVAC units or additional bathrooms. A small condo might only take two hours, while a large, multi-story house could take five hours or more.

When the House Was Built

Older homes often take longer to inspect. Over time, more issues may have developed, and they often have outdated systems or elements that no longer comply with current safety standards.

The Home Inspector’s Past Experience

The duration of a home inspection can also depend on the experience and approach of the inspector. A seasoned home inspector may work more efficiently and quickly spot issues due to their familiarity with common problems.

Type of Foundation

The kind of foundation a house has can also affect inspection time. A home with a crawl space or basement might take longer to inspect than a home with a slab foundation due to the additional time it takes to traverse and inspect these areas.

The Condition of the Home

Homes in poor condition or with evident issues will often require a more thorough inspection. The inspector may need to spend more time evaluating the severity of visible problems and looking for underlying causes.

The Weather

Weather conditions can affect the inspection duration as well. For instance, heavy rain might make it impossible to adequately inspect the roof or exterior, leading to a follow-up visit. Snow and ice can also make certain parts of the home inaccessible.

Major Systems

Complex systems like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing can take longer to inspect, especially if they are older or not in good condition.

Communication

If the potential buyer is present and asking questions during the inspection, this can lengthen the process. However, this communication is valuable as it allows the buyer to understand the condition of the property better.

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The Report

Lastly, some inspectors will compile their credit report onsite, which can extend the inspection time. Others may finalize the report after the inspection, not affecting the onsite duration.

How Long Does It Take to Schedule a Home Inspection?

The length of time to schedule a home inspection can vary depending on several factors. However, in general, it’s usually possible to arrange an inspection within a few days of contacting a home inspection company. This timeframe can fluctuate based on the inspector’s availability, the local real estate market’s activity level, and the time of year (inspection services tend to be busier during the spring and summer months). As a buyer, it’s advisable to start the process as soon as possible after the seller accepts your offer.

Should a House Seller Be Present at the Home Inspection?

Traditionally, it’s recommended that sellers do not attend the home inspection. This allows the inspector to work without interruption, and more importantly, it permits the buyer to feel comfortable asking questions about potential issues without the seller present.

However, it’s not uncommon for sellers to be on-site, particularly if they are still living in the home. If they do attend, it’s essential that they allow the inspector to perform their job and not influence the process. Ultimately, it’s a discussion that should be had between buyer and seller and agreed upon mutually.

How Long Does a Home Inspection Report Take?

After the inspection, the inspector will compile their findings in a home inspection report. The timeframe for receiving this report can vary based on the inspector. Some inspectors will provide a report on the same day as the inspection, while others may take up to 48 hours to deliver the report.

The report will detail the condition of the home, highlight any areas of concern, and often include photos or illustrations to help explain findings. It provides valuable insight into the home’s condition and is a crucial tool for negotiating repairs or price adjustments.

Robbi Cahya Yudha

As an experienced professional in the mortgage loan and property market, Help individuals and families achieve their homeownership dreams.  My mission is to simplify your real estate journey and secure the best possible outcomes in this ever-changing market.