It’s common for a home inspection to take a few hours or even half a day — and that’s a good thing. No one wants an inspector who rushes the job, especially when dealing with larger properties, or older ones whose issues have been boarded up, painted over, and hidden from plain sight. Here are some of the most common factors that contribute to how long a home inspection should take.
Factors that affect the length of a home inspection.
A home inspector has to go over a property with a fine-tooth comb looking for errors and issues and quirks, keeping track of each feature and making note of all the things that the buyer needs to be aware of. It’s a crucial part of the homebuying process, because without the inspection, a buyer could walk into a home that could (quite literally) collapse under their feet. So, with a lot to look for, what takes the most time, and what can be done fast?
Size of the property.
The first factor, and maybe the most obvious one, is the size of the property. There’s no exact science, as every home is going to need different levels of attention. But as you’d expect, the bigger the property, the more time it’ll take to give a thorough inspection.
And in the case of a luxury home inspection, you can expect the job to take a whole lot longer. Luxury homes (we’re talking celebrity home material) often come with amenities that you wouldn’t see in your typical home inspection. This can include pools, wine cellars, exercise rooms, elaborate security systems, and more – in addition to simply having more square footage. A luxury home inspection could take as long as 1-2 days to be completed! But the time put in is well worth it to make sure any and all issues are addressed in the inspection report.
Age and condition of the property.
Generally, when dealing with an older home, there are bound to be more issues. The issues could stem from age, as over time a property will sink into its plot, its foundation will shift and crack, and the floors will creak. But there could also be issues with old construction methods, as safety codes do change. Common issues you’ll run into while inspecting an older home include:
- Pest infestations
- Failing utility systems
- Health hazards from mold, asbestos, radon, etc.
Inspecting an old home comes with a need for historical expertise, too. You’ll witness history frozen in time, in some cases, as you uncover unique or outdated structural designs and construction methods (asbestos-filled popcorn ceilings, anyone?).
Historic home inspections are a special situation. A historic home refers to a property that has been marked by a community as historically significant (e.g., landmarked). As you inspect properties like these, like any old home, you’ll need to view it through a historical lens to understand why things were done the way they were, and what kinds of issues you should expect…oh, and be prepared to find some very interesting things.
For all these reasons, you can expect an older home to take a little more of your time than a newer build. It’s always a safe bet to devote at least 4-6 hours to these inspections.
There are also specialized areas you might inspect that are not included in every report, because not every home will need them. Also, often times, a regular home inspection will show signs if further inspections or a specialist is needed. These additional inspections include:
- Foundation inspection
- Mold inspection
- Radon inspection
- Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection
- Other pest inspections
If a home needs additional inspections, it could be bad news for closing a deal on time, especially if something like a long-term radon inspection is needed. In these cases, the testing period could last 90 days (or longer), so it’s best to communicate with your clients about how they’d prefer to move forward.
Other add-on inspections like mold testing won’t tack on as much time. If you’re already certified in other areas, you can likely fit a number of these into your routine inspection, but be prepared to tack on a few extra hours to conduct each one. Then, depending on the test, you could be looking at an additional few days for lab results. For example, it won’t take too long to gather samples for a mold analysis (maybe 2-6 hours depending on property size), but you’ll generally need 24-48 hours to get the lab results back.
The experience and efficiency of the inspector.
Naturally, your expertise will directly affect your home inspection efficiency. The more homes you see, the more you’ll understand. The more problems you run into and learn how to solve, the better you’ll be at tackling them next time. But never mistake efficiency for speed. This might be the golden rule of home inspections: an expert never rushes the job.
How long a home inspection should take (on average).
Most home inspections won’t last longer than three to four hours, and they should never be shorter than one hour (e.g., condos). A home inspector needs to be trusted to get the most thorough look at the property so that buyers and sellers alike can get a clear view of what’s going on inside, outside, and throughout a property.
You’re the common denominator.
The time it takes to complete a home inspection depends on a variety of factors, but the common denominator is you! A big old rickety mansion from the 1800s with pools, dark basement chambers, and halls that lead to (seemingly) nowhere may take a day or two to get through, but the new condo down the street might only take an hour. If you have extra certifications, you may spend a few more hours or even devote entire days to inspecting specific areas of a home. And of course, the more experience you have, the more confidently you can approach any task, and complete it in a solid amount of time. The most important thing we can recommend is to stay thorough, alert, and never prioritize speed over doing the best job you can do…so as an AHIT grad, we know you got this!