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How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

Camilla Carboni

home inspector taking notes on staircase

The question of how long a home inspection takes involves the reason that the inspection is being conducted in the first place, as well as who is conducting it. This guide is for both buyers and sellers to determine how long home inspections last as well as the reasons you need to conduct one, even though they’re not legally mandatory.

We’ll cover what a home inspection is, who is responsible for performing it, what the inspection entails, and the factors that influence how long home inspections last. Read on to get the best deal on your new home, or to expedite your listing and avoid costly negotiations with your buyer.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is not required by law, which means that you need to know what it is and why you would schedule one, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. The question of how long an inspection takes requires knowing how important they could be to your sale.

If a home inspection isn’t required by contract, the buyer will probably initiate this inspection through their real estate agent, who likely knows an experienced inspector to do the job right. The inspection involves observing both structural and aesthetic issues with the house. These observations could include structural issues with the house’s walls and foundation, the health and safety of the house, and the state of its appliances.

Finding wood rot, mold, structural imbalances, broken appliances, or other problems could result in renegotiations on the sale or price reductions. So long as the offer contract doesn’t specify that the house is sold “as is,” the buyer may pull out of the contract altogether after discovering these issues.

This makes it essential for a buyer who needs to protect their investment through professional eyes, as Class Home Inspection is quick to recommend. They may also need this inspection as part of the appraisal process that may be required by the buyer’s bank in order to secure a loan on the house.

A seller may also need to initiate an inspection, however, but if the seller chooses to sell to an iBuyer, they will not need to handle the inspection themselves.

Who performs a home inspection?

home inspector checking the plumbing system

A home inspection is usually initiated by a buyer, whose real estate agent hires the inspector to conduct the examination without the seller being present. Renegotiation plans between the agent and the buyer can then be passed on to the seller through the inspector’s recommendation.

However, a seller may hire a certified home inspector to secure their investment before they even have a buyer lined up, if the seller chooses to sell in the traditional way, using a real estate agent. This is because inconsistencies in a house listing could prolong or even cancel a sale. It may save the seller time and money to conduct this inspection ahead of time and include the results in the listing.

Factors that influence the duration of a home inspection

The question of how long a home inspection takes depends on the variables involved since both buyers and sellers may have their own reasons for ordering the inspection. These are the factors that you should consider when trying to predict how long the inspection will last:

The first is the house itself, including its size and age. Larger houses will have more elements to inspect and older houses have a greater chance of having outdated plumbing, roofing, and electrical systems, as well as old damage and mold, that the inspector will need to look for.

people discussing housing plans

Accessibility also factors into how long a home inspection takes in terms of the house’s design. If it has a yard or basement, or other structures that are more difficult to inspect, it will take longer.

State legislation also affects the length of a home inspection. We mentioned that there’s no federal law mandating an inspection, but states often have requirements concerning them. What goes into an inspection report, particularly regarding the repairs of homes in older districts that are more likely to have outdated HVAC systems, plumbing, and roofing can change from state to state, which can influence how long the home inspection will take.

What happens during a home inspection?

During a home inspection, the inspector will analyze the house’s major systems for health, safety, and livability. This includes anything essential to the house’s functions, including the foundation, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, electrical system, and other things. 

Remember that cosmetic problems like wallpaper peeling off or chipped fixtures won’t be inspected. Only the main systems that could influence the house’s safety and livability will be searched during an inspection.

How long does a home inspection take on average?

The average home inspection time, according to 4U Inspection Services, is between 2-3 hours. They specifically list the home inspection time of a 1000-square-foot home as only an hour and a half. Of course, for the reasons mentioned above, this time could change.

On average, you can add a half-hour of inspection time for every 500 square feet of space, according to Home Inspector Insider. The experience of the inspector also matters when trying to figure out how long the inspection will take, since a veteran will know the area, what to look for in houses based on their age, and how to access systems that may be more out of the way. Someone newer to the job, may take longer to do the job.

Depending on the age of the house, its size, and accessibility, these inspections could take longer. However, you may also be wondering how long an inspection report takes to be finalized and that, thankfully, doesn’t change too much with the house. For most inspection services, reports are ready within 1-2 days.

Repairs and renegotiations can start at that time.

How to prepare for a home inspection

seller and inspector discussing the details of the home inspection

There are quite a few things that can expedite the home inspection process, especially for those who are anxiously wondering how long a home inspection takes. This will be especially true for those who need to sell quickly and are already using instant offer services like iBuyer.com to try to get their sale completed in a hurry.

Even if time isn’t the issue, expediting the home inspection process can de-stress everyone and make the process run more smoothly.

The first thing you can do to prepare for a home inspection, and make it take less time, is to prepare maintenance receipts on the house beforehand, so the inspector knows more about the house’s history. Simply put, you’ll want to have the paperwork ready. Both sellers and buyers’ agents can prepare this information.

Areas of the houses that are difficult to access, like crawlspaces and furnaces, can also be made more accessible to expedite the inspection process. Any cleaning you can do to remove clutter from the house and make it easier for the inspector to get around can also reduce how long a home inspection takes.

What happens after a home inspection?

After a home inspection, the inspector compiles their notes into a report that becomes available to your agent 1-2 days, on average, after the inspection was conducted. 

Nowadays, some inspection services even deliver the report to you or your agent on-site after the inspection, since they’re able to type it up and get the necessary approval electronically.

What happens after a home inspection? The report is evaluated by the agent and the buyer or seller, depending on who conducted the inspection, to determine the next course of action. For a buyer, this will likely be to continue with the offer contract as previously decided and move forward with the purchase, or renegotiate their offer on the house. They could also ask for a “repair credit.” Some may decide to pull out from the sale altogether based on the results of the home inspection.

For a seller, the inspection could change their listing or make them reconsider their price. Having the inspection ready for prospective buyers helps not only to build trust with the buyer’s agent but also to expedite the buying process.

How long is a home inspection good for?

Most home inspection companies offer a warranty on the inspection for 90 days, according to Zip Realty. After that period of time, you may unfortunately need to redo the inspection.

The Takeaway

How long does a home inspection take? There’s no one answer. The time it takes to conduct a home inspection depends on the condition and age of the house, the experience of the inspector, and the accessibility of its systems. Some old houses with concrete walls or inconveniently located HVAC systems can take longer than the average to inspect; the average home inspection time being around 2-3 hours for most homes.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, home inspections are an essential part of the homebuying process. Despite not being required by law, they are often needed to take out a mortgage and to finalize offer contracts. Before home inspections happen, both buyers and sellers can do things to ensure that they go smoothly, such as having the necessary paperwork ready and making sure the house is accessible.

After a home inspection, price negotiation may follow, as well as new terms based on the information uncovered during the inspection. You may be wondering how long a home inspection takes, but no matter how inconvenient, they are an essential aspect of homebuying that any buyer or seller needs to use to their advantage. It could save both parties time and money in the long run.

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