How long does a home inspection take?

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My dad is a talker. Go to any restaurant with him, and you’ll leave with the life stories of the whole establishment. He’s also a home inspector. How long your home inspection takes may come down to whether or not my dad is inspecting your home.

The length of an inspection will also depend on the size and condition of your home, as well as market demand and weather conditions. On average, a home inspection takes between two and four hours to complete.

During that time, your inspector will examine the structure of your house and take notes on its condition. Afterward, the inspector will formalize their findings into a report, which is typically sent to the homeowner or buyer within a few days.

What happens during a home inspection?

In real estate, a home inspection is an assessment of a residential dwelling’s condition. A qualified home inspector examines the house looking for defects, evidence of damage, and anything else that could impact the property’s value.

A home inspector’s goal is to ensure that the following systems are in good working order, and if they’re not, to document their condition and make recommendations for repairs:

  • HVAC systems
  • Roofing
  • Insulation
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Windows and doors
  • Basements and attics
  • Foundation
  • Other structural components

After the physical inspection is complete, the home inspector will then submit a written report to the customer. The inspection report will include the home inspector’s notes, photos, and a general summary of the house’s condition. It will also have information on areas that may cause problems down the road and recommendations for care.

4 things that affect how long home inspections take

The average home inspection takes two to two and a half hours to complete. However, some inspections may take longer. Here are five elements that can impact your inspection timeline:

Size of the home

If you have a large home, your home inspector will likely need longer to complete their physical walkthrough as there is more ground for them to cover. If you have a large house, plan on this component of the inspection, taking some extra time.

Condition of the home

A home in good condition has less to document and will generally be faster than homes in poor condition. Older homes, which can have more safety issues and a greater chance of unpermitted work, can also take longer.

Major systems

Homes that have multiple HVAC or water heating systems will also require more time since the inspector will need to conduct a complete examination of each system. Additionally, if your home has a pool, you may need to hire a specialist or pay an additional fee to inspect your pool systems.

Weather

Some aspects of a home inspection take place outside, in crawl spaces, or in other areas that may be exposed to the weather. Incremental conditions, like rain and snow, can slow down these parts of the process and add more time to a home inspection.

Demand

The real estate industry has been in high demand lately, and home inspectors are no exception. Inspectors taking on larger caseloads may need additional time to compile their report. However, some inspectors utilize digital technology to automate parts of this process, allowing them to deliver a report on-site.

How long are home inspections good for?

The lifespan of your home inspection will depend on the individual terms of the home inspection company. Many offer a 90-day warranty on inspections, but terms vary from company to company. What’s covered by the warranty will also differ. Make sure to discuss these terms when vetting potential inspectors, and ask your Realtor if they have any companies they recommend.

When do you get a home inspection?

A homebuyer most often orders an inspection before closing to ensure there are no unexpected problems with the home. A seller may also get a pre-inspection to get an idea of a home’s condition before listing it.

It doesn’t matter what the house looks like — the only way to get a true sense of a house’s real condition is to complete a home inspection. This step can help buyers with preventative maintenance and protect them from purchasing a home with hidden damage.

A pre-listing home inspection can also be a powerful tool for home sellers. During this type of inspection, the seller gets the same information about their home that a prospective buyer would. It can be advantageous to get this information ahead of time so the seller can identify and address any repairs necessary. This can help ensure that the seller gets top dollar for their home and has a smooth sale.

Your real estate agent can help you determine when it’s advisable to order or waive a home inspection as a buyer or a seller.

Who attends the home inspection?

If you're buying a home and want to get the most out of your home inspection, be present for the walk through and bring your real estate agent of course. As the inspector goes through your home, ask them questions about the house. They’ll be able to advise you on how to best maintain the home and avoid problems in the future. They can also give you insight into any of the fixes that may be required after the home inspection.

The seller (the current homeowner) typically doesn't stick around for the inspection, so the homebuyer doesn't feel pressure while scrutinizing the property with teh inspector. Whether the listing agent is present or not depends on what's typical in that particular city or state. Sometimes the agent is there to open the door and make sure things don't go awry, though their presence can be distracting for potential buyers.

What happens after a home inspection?

After a home inspection, the buyer and seller will review the inspector’s written report. They can use this information to negotiate repairs, price adjustments, or other seller concessions. If the buyer is satisfied with the condition of the home and any repairs or price adjustments have been agreed upon, the sale can proceed. If the buyer is not satisfied with the condition of the home or is unable to reach an agreement with the seller, they may choose to walk away.

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