The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



What to Expect: How Long Does a Typical Home Inspection Take?

 December 18, 2023 |  Home Inspection |  home exterior, landscaping, windows, roof, attic, mold, radon, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, insulation, ventilation, first-time homeowner, real estate

Purchasing a home can be one of the most simultaneously exciting and stressful processes anyone will go through. Considering the sizable investment and the long-reaching impact that a closing negotiation can have on both the buyer and the seller, it is completely understandable to lose a couple winks of sleep while worrying about each odd detail of a home’s sale. In these instances, buyers (especially first-time homebuyers) who learn about the need of a home inspection can get a bit antsy through the process, viewing the inspection as a roadblock to their homeownership.

This is where a frequently answered question comes into play: How long does a home inspection take?

While there may be a typical range of time to expect for a general home inspection, there are a wide array of factors that make this question tough to answer point blank. However, in the interest of easing any concerns, we will take some time today to discuss how long a home inspection takes, what can extend or shorten the process, and why a good home inspector needs this time. To begin, let’s review what a home inspection is and why it is a necessary part of every home’s sale.

What is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of a residential property with the intent to determine the condition of a home on a specified date (see InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice for more information). To put it another way, a home inspection is when a professional home inspector tours the grounds, takes pictures, and uses what they find to develop a home inspection report. This inspection report can then be taken as a summary of a house’s condition, a starting point for needed repairs, and a potential tool to help a buyer negotiate with their seller while closing the sale.

Without an inspection report, a homebuyer is walking into their new house blind to its potential issues and unaware of actionable steps that could avert costly breakdowns in the future. So, when buyers ask how long their home inspection will take, we’d like to start by pointing back to the whole idea of the inspection. The report is there to save them time in the future, money if the home is in need of repairs, and unneeded stress if a key system is out of working order suddenly.

Some of the features that a home inspector examines include (but are not limited to):

  • The roof
  • The home’s exterior (including stairs, porches, balconies, siding, and landscape)
  • The basement & foundation
  • Heating & cooling systems
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • The attic
  • Insulation & ventilation
  • Doors, windows, & other interior features

On top of these features, a home inspector can also perform additional services to add further value to their report. Some of these additional services may include:

  • Radon testing (because according to the CDC, there is no safe level of radon)
  • Mold inspections and testing
  • Infrared inspections (learn more about energy audits here)
  • Sewer and septic system inspections
  • Wood destroying organism inspections (WDO/WDI for pests like termites or carpenter ants)
  • Indoor air quality testing

For an inspector to thoroughly examine all of these features, buyers should be checking to ensure the professional they hired is spending enough time on-site, rather than anticipating speedy completion. A good home inspector is an unbiased, third-party expert that takes the appropriate time needed to produce a report that fulfills the agreed upon scale and scope of the job. Just as every home has its own unique features and quirks, every home inspection will vary. Still, to set some appropriate expectations, let’s discuss how much time you should pencil in for your own home inspection.

How Long is a Home Inspection?
The duration of a home inspection will vary from property to property and from inspector to inspector. For the average property, buyers should expect an inspector to spend anywhere from two to four hours on-site, then plan to receive their report between one and three business days later. Of course, the best way to get an idea of how long an inspector will take to deliver an inspection report is to ask them.

Licensed property inspectors are trained to understand a wide array of home features and defects, and an experienced inspector will be able to accurately estimate the time required to fulfill a job after gathering key facts, such as:

  • The size of the home (its square footage, number of floors, and number of complex systems–larger homes can have more than one HVAC system, for example)
  • The age of the home (older homes tend to have more issues or quirks that need to be pointed out within the report)
  • The condition of the home (neglected homes will also have more features that need to be further examined and described within the report, which will take more time)

A property inspection is a complex, important job, but an experienced and well-trained inspector may have unique knowledge with certain types of homes or certain specific builders prevalent in an area. A great inspector fit for the job can cut down on time due to their comfort with the process, or an inspector may be able to dive deeper on a unique home feature depending on their specialized background. This all means that just as no two homes are the same, no two home inspections are the same either.

At the end of the day, your own home inspection is whatever you make of it! You can order any number of add-on services to expand on what you know about your home, and you can use your inspector as a go-to advisor for any number of questions along the way. To get started, you can contact your local NPI inspector to discuss availability today!

Interested in learning more about home inspections? Visit our resource center!

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