A home inspection is a comprehensive but non-invasive assessment of a residential property. While home inspections don’t verify code compliance, a thorough examination provides a lot of vital information you need to know about a house. So, how long does a home inspection take?
A standard home inspection usually takes approximately three to four hours for a 1,500 to 2,500 sq ft (140 to 232 sq m) house, around five hours for a larger property, and up to two hours for a condo. Any auxiliary inspections, material defects, and specialized testing can prolong the process.
A typical home inspection may take longer for any size and type of residential property based on the purpose and scope. Plus, accessibility to all inspectable components and the efficiency of a home inspection team influence how long the process will take. Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
- The Average Duration of a Standard Home Inspection
- Factors That Affect How Long a Home Inspection Takes
The Average Duration of a Standard Home Inspection
The average duration of a standard home inspection depends on a few variables. Purpose and scope are the first factors determining the extent of an examination and, thus, the duration of a home inspection. For instance, here’s a relatively basic scope of a typical home inspection:
- Foundation and structure
- General overall construction
- Roof, attic, basement, etc.
- Flooring, ceilings, and walls
- Doors, windows, and ducts
- Bathrooms, kitchen, etc.
- Plumbing fixtures (accessible)
- Electrical outlets, panels, etc.
- HVAC systems (any type)
- Garages, carports, etc.
A professional home inspector certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) should inspect a lot of other components in a house if they are available and accessible, such as appliances.
RELATED: 9 Stages of New Home Construction
A vacant condo or house with no appliances installed will take less time to inspect than a fully or partly furnished one. Also, the number and types of appliances might significantly impact a home inspection process and its duration.
Similarly, every house doesn’t have all the components that may be otherwise common, such as a fireplace. If a house has one or more, a certified home inspector must abide by the standard practice for fireplace and fuel-burning appliances. A house without a fireplace or any type of fuel-burning appliance will obviously not require the extra time to inspect such installations.
Factors That Affect How Long a Home Inspection Takes
There are a few other major variables that can influence how long a home inspection takes.
1. A Home Inspection Team’s Efficiency and Methods
A home inspection doesn’t always necessitate a team, but larger houses or some assessments may be easier to manage if there is more than one certified inspector. One home inspector will obviously take longer than a team of two or more certified professionals to inspect a house.
Similarly, not all home inspection teams are equally efficient. Home inspectors use various types of tools for the job, such as the following:
- GFCI outlet testers
- Voltage testers
- Moisture meters
- Microwave testers
- Telescoping ladders
The more tools and smart technology a home inspection team has, the shorter the duration of a comprehensive assessment. For example, home inspectors may use infrared thermal imaging cameras or simplify onsite evaluation and real-time report generation with the help of software.
An inefficient team may take twice as long to inspect a house than an efficient one. So, choosing a home inspection company or certified professional isn’t very different from trying to find the best builder in an area. Apart from certification and license, you may look for a home inspection company or independent professional with an errors and omissions insurance policy.
2. Accessibility, Age, and Size of a Residential Property
Here is the average duration of a standard home inspection for different types of houses or residential units:
- Apartments or condominiums: approximately two hours
- Detached single-family homes: three to four hours
- Large residential properties: around five hours
A large residential property with more components to inspect will take longer, such as a house with a lawn and sprinklers, sprawling driveways, or anything extra built on the foundation or lot. Any detached construction or facility will also increase the duration of a home inspection.
The two other significant variables are accessibility and age. A home inspection team will take longer to overcome obstacles if a house is cluttered with plenty of hard-to-reach or inaccessible components. Similarly, older properties may have more issues to observe and report.
3. Auxiliary Standards of Practice for Home Inspection
The scope of a home inspection expands and, thus, the duration increases if a house has one or more of the following features, among others:
These and other components have auxiliary standards of practice as per the ASHI, such as the following:
The more standards a home inspector has to follow, the longer the inspection process.
RELATED: 17 Ways To Choose The Best Lot When Building A House
4. Material Defects May Prolong a Home Inspection
A home inspection doesn’t highlight or prioritize aesthetic or cosmetic issues, although some may indicate defects. All certified and licensed home inspectors focus on material defects, which are a problem that is observed and determined to be:
- Safety risk
Every material defect can prolong the home inspection process because the inspector or team should take the time to evaluate their observation and note the conclusion in the report. A home inspector certified by the InterNACHI must assess material defects based on these criteria:
- Does an observed material defect pose a safety risk to people?
- Does the material defect reduce the value of the house or residential property?
- Does the material defect tick both, either, or neither of the two criteria above?
A home inspector must explain a material defect, and the final report must not be a checklist with a few boxes ticked or unticked. Hence, every material defect will probably extend the home inspection process by a few minutes, if not several.
5. Specialized Home Inspections Might Take Longer
Standard home inspections don’t include the following tests, among others:
- Air quality testing
- Asbestos testing
- Electromagnetic testing
- Mold testing
- Radon testing
- Termite inspection
- Water flow testing
- Water quality testing
Home inspection companies offering these tests classify them as ‘specialty’ services, which can extend the duration of the entire process. The onsite job takes longer because home inspection teams, including licensed professionals with relevant specializations, need some time to collect the required samples. Also, the results of some tests take longer than a home inspection report.
A standard home inspection report is available within 24 to 48 hours nowadays. If the report has to include the results of specialty tests, the turnaround time may be a while longer.
A home inspection process can take just under two hours to over five hours, subject to the variables I have explained. The time required is directly proportional to the following factors:
- House size
- Material defects
- Special services
- Team’s efficiency
Leave a Reply