How long does a home inspection take?

Of course a home inspection should take however long is necessary, but there are some general guidelines for how long to expect it to take.

For a typical single family home, around 1,500 to 2,500 square feet I usually expect about 3 to 3.5 hours for an inspection.  A newer house might take a little less time, an older house maybe a little more.  A larger house will of course take more time, but it’s not usually in proportion to the size.  For example, houses in the 3,000 to 5,000 square feet range won’t take twice as long.  A newer and nicer house will usually go faster because there are fewer problems to stop and evaluate and explain.  A house with a wide open basement will usually go faster, just because it’s easier to get to all the places I need to see.

The time to inspect a condominium can vary tremendously depending on what the common areas are like.  For most condominiums I want to see not just the unit that my client is buying but all of the common areas as well, and how long it takes to see these areas will vary depending on the type and age of the building.  For a typical 6 to 12 unit condominium building in Chicago I plan on about 2 to 2.5 hours for a 2- or 3-bedroom and 2-bath inspection.  A small unit in a high-rise building might take just an hour.

Here are some of the issues that affect the length of a home inspection.

When my client asks a lot of questions it definitely slows down the process, sometimes by quite a lot.  But that’s fine.  That’s what we’re there for, and I personally enjoy it when my client is engaged and interested and asking questions.  But it slows things down.

Multiple HVAC systems will add some time, because each piece of equipment has to be looked at but also once the system is running I need to walk around and be sure it’s working properly everywhere.  And this is even more of an issue in the summer when I need to run and test both a furnace and an air conditioner.  Sometimes in a house with multiple HVAC systems it’s not even clear what each thermostat does, so it can take some time just to figure that out.  This can involve a lot of exercise too, going up and down stairs to determine what system is working where.

Lots of bathrooms slows things down.  Each bathroom is a potential water leak spot, so I need to not only check for leaks at the sink and toilet but run a lot of water at the tub/shower so that I can eventually check for water leaks below each fixture.

I generally operate each window, so lots of windows will slow things down.  And if the windows turn out to be hard to operate then I’ll wind up spending an awful lot of time checking each one.

A crawl space can slow things down quite a bit, because it can be hard to navigate through it, and it might even take a lot of time to prepare.  Sometimes I’ll put on coveralls for protection, as well as knee pads, and getting the equipment on and off can be time consuming.  And some attics take a long time to get into, especially if I have to move personal objects in order to get my ladder into place.

A few years ago I was inspecting a condominium unit in a 4- or 6- unit building, fairly new.  We started outside, and my clients had a lot of questions, so we weren’t moving very fast.  After about 45 minutes we were still outside when my clients’ real estate agent showed up.  When he discovered that we hadn’t even gotten inside the building yet he became a little bit agitated and said that we should be just about done with the entire inspection.  What?  I don’t think I could inspect a doghouse in just 45 minutes, but most importantly my clients were still asking me questions so it’s not as though I was the bottleneck.  The inspection was taking as long as it should have.  I won’t allow myself to be pushed along by a real estate agent who just wants to get out of there.  I told my clients that the inspection would take as long as it takes and they continues to ask lots of questions.

I’ve had other agents try to push me along, but I refuse to be rushed.  I’m working for my client.  It’s their inspection.  And it will take however long is necessary to do a thorough home inspection.

Inspection Overview
Why Get a Home Inspection?

Recent Posts

Don’t let your pipes freeze

I’ve heard the question many times: How low should I set my thermostat if I leave town in the winter, to save money but prevent my pipes from freezing? 65 °F?  60 °F?  50?  I

Wood shrinkage

Let’s talk about wood shrinkage. Your hardwood floors are the place where you’re mostly likely to see the problems associated with wood shrinkage, but old panel doors can also experience problems.  In floors, as the

Window condensation

Condensation on windows is a problem that I see a lot in the winter, and I see the damage from window condensation year round.  Here’s some information about the issue. Condensation will occur on a

Attic condensation

Water is your home’s number one enemy.  I’ve said that before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again. Water in your attic can cause problems including mold growth, deterioration of the roof’s plywood

Request Inspection

More Posts You May Find Interesting

Don’t let your pipes freeze

February 7th, 2024|Comments Off on Don’t let your pipes freeze

I’ve heard the question many times: How low should I set my thermostat if I leave town in the winter, to save money but prevent my pipes from freezing? 65 °F?  60 °F?  50?  I

Wood shrinkage

January 16th, 2024|Comments Off on Wood shrinkage

Let’s talk about wood shrinkage. Your hardwood floors are the place where you’re mostly likely to see the problems associated with wood shrinkage, but old panel doors can also experience problems.  In floors, as the

Window condensation

January 10th, 2024|Comments Off on Window condensation

Condensation on windows is a problem that I see a lot in the winter, and I see the damage from window condensation year round.  Here’s some information about the issue. Condensation will occur on a

Attic condensation

January 8th, 2024|Comments Off on Attic condensation

Water is your home’s number one enemy.  I’ve said that before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again. Water in your attic can cause problems including mold growth, deterioration of the roof’s plywood

Priorities

December 22nd, 2023|Comments Off on Priorities

Here’s a short quiz on energy efficiency priorities. Suppose you have two cars, and both get driven about the same number of miles.  One car is kind of old and only gets 20 miles per

Garage Fire Separation

December 18th, 2023|Comments Off on Garage Fire Separation

Separating the house from the garage against the spread of fire is an important part of home safety.  Here are some of the rules that the current version of the International Residential Code (2021) requires.