How long should a home inspection take? There are many variables to this question. The size, age, condition and foundation type of the house are the biggest variables. A new 1000 square foot house on a slab foundation is going to take much less time to inspect than a 2500 square foot, 100 year old house with a raised pier and post foundation. Here in Humboldt county California, most houses have raised foundations and we have a lot of older homes.
Probably the next biggest variable is the level of detail that the inspector is committed to performing. An inspector that barely meets the minimum inspection standards will be able to do a faster inspection. Minimum standards only require testing of a representative number of receptacles and windows. The interior rooms, minus bathrooms and kitchen can also be treated as a single section. Appliances can also be excluded. Personally I prefer to test every accessible receptacle and window, document each room, and test built in appliances including jetted tubs.
The type of data entry and report delivery that the inspector uses is another factor. I have developed a 4 page color coded checklist to use during the inspection. The checklist allows me to document things quickly and helps me to avoid missing anything. I could save myself an hour or two of data transfer by entering the data into a computer on site, but I try to keep my on-site time to a minimum. Finishing the report on site will also take longer. I take an average of about 75 pictures per inspection, and I really feel I personally can do a better inspection report by taking more time reviewing my photos and digesting all the information.
If the client is on site, the inspection will generally take longer, even if it is just the time to go over the findings with them.
The general consensus seems to be that a typical inspection should take at least 2 – 3 hours. With a larger or older house it can take up to 4+ hours. If your inspector can inspect the entire inside of an average house including the attic, bathrooms, kitchen, garage, water heater, furnace, electrical in less than 1 1/2 hours, they must be meeting no more than the minimum standards. Would anybody advertise that fact? I proudly exceed the minimum standards, so it does take me a little longer, but I do my best to minimize the time the real estate agent has to be on site.