Question: How Long Should a Home Inspection Take?

Home Inspector with HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC

Answer:  A well conducted Home Inspection should take approximately 1 hour per thousand square feet.  This time can vary depending on what the Home Inspector is asked to do.  If a Home Inspector is also contracted to complete a radon test, mold evaluation or property inspection then the total time at the site will increase. 

Older homes take longer than newer homes because of the effects of aging and the tendencies of home owners to modify homes over time.  Occupied homes take longer to inspect than vacant homes.  A crawl space generally takes longer to inspect than a basement or a home on a concrete slab. 

Inspectors who spend only 2 hours looking at a 3000 square foot home are likely working too fast or just not giving the facility the full evaluation required by State or agency guidelines.  A quick look like this is referred to as a "drive-by inspection" and the Client is not getting their money's worth.

Before you contract with a Home Inspector, ask them how long they will take to look at the home.  If quicker than 1 hour per thousand square feet, you might want to shop around some more. 


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Vickie Nagy
Vickie Nagy, Broker Associate Realty ONE Group BMC Associates | BRE#01363932 - San Ramon, CA
Broker for San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton
Having been an active buyer's agent I have attended many home inspections. IMHO thorough inspections take more than 1 hour per thousand feet. For example, I have seen inspectors do random polaity tests on outlets, while another inspector tests EVERY outlet. Details like this add time, but make for a better inspection. Guess which inspector I recommend?
Jan 18, 2008 12:21 PM #1
Richard Acree
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN

Great, thanks for the comment! 

 Let me ask, if your inspector is looking at an occupied 3500 sqft house, how long would you expect them to be on site?  When do you expect the report?


Jan 18, 2008 12:35 PM #2
Joseph Lang
Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Home Inspector, Southern California

Good post Richard.  I would modify your time frame slightly.  For me, I would say the absolute minimum time is 2 1/2 hours regardless of square footage.  The 1-hour per square foot applies to homes over 2,500 square feet, of course also adding more time for older houses, additional tests, etc. as you stated before.

As to your question about a 3,500 sq ft house, it would probably take me 3 1/2 hours.  Good stuff for clients and realtors to think about.

Jan 18, 2008 02:13 PM #3
First Last
Eatontown, NJ
Thanks for sharing this.  Once I had a home inspector came out to a house that we wanted to buy to do an inspection for us.  He spent about 2 hours on inspection and another 1/2 explaining to us what needed to be done for a certain things that he recommended fixing. 
Jan 18, 2008 02:17 PM #4
Richard Acree
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN
Thanks everybody!  And i agree with Joseph in Cucamonga.  The minimum time for even the smallest home is usually 2 hours. 
Jan 18, 2008 03:48 PM #5
Latonia Parks
Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV - Fayetteville, NC
Military Relocation Expert
Thanks for the information.  This is great for a guideline to pick out any wrongdoing.
Jan 18, 2008 04:33 PM #6
Richard Acree
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN
You're welcome Latonia
Jan 18, 2008 07:10 PM #7
Vincent Coccia
Construction Services Integration - Paoli, PA
Good post....When I sold real estate, my clients sometimes would ask why is the home inspection taking so long.  I would tell them that it is a good thing that it takes 2 or so hours because the inspector is taking his/her time to review the home. 
Jan 18, 2008 09:48 PM #8
Gene Allen
Fathom Realty - Cary, NC
Realty Consultant for Cary Real Estate
It should take as long it needs to.  As pointed out, some are tougher then others are.  When you add a crawl space the time just goes up.  I always figure at least three hours for any of them.
Jan 20, 2008 12:44 PM #9
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN

I have found that the longer I do this (inspect homes), the longer I seem to take. I have also found that the time also increases in relation to the amount of continuing education we take. I've been inspecting homes since 1989 and probably average 2 1/2 hours minimum.

Since I do an electronic report, I find that it takes about 30 minutes alone to input and annotate the photos. I usually spend that time to talk to my client about what was found during the inspection, too.

I'm always tickled when someone says, "Why are you taking so long, MY inspector only takes an hour". As Gene said, It takes as long as it takes.



Jan 20, 2008 02:42 PM #10
Rick Bunzel
Pacific Crest Inspections - Anacortes, WA

Every home is different. We tell our customers an inspection takes 2-3 hours for a 2,000sq ft. home. I have seen problematic homes with skittish clients take 5 hours and empty ranchers with no client take a little over an hour and a half. In my neck of the woods the Realtor must be present as long as we are in the home but rarely do I get rushed in doing the inspection. 

They take as long as they take. We do data input onsite so if I breezed over something I will catch it while doing the report and go back over the item.  




Rick Bunzel 
Pacific Crest Inspections

Affiliate of the Year 2006-2007
Fax 360-588-6965

Toll Free 866-618-7764


Jan 25, 2008 01:39 PM #11
Bob Sisson

In my state, with mandatory disclosures and contract discussion before the inspection can begin, that adds time up front, so I always allow 3 hours, even for a small house.  

I would rather have the time and not need it, than need it and have the client scheduled someplace to be tight to the end and have their mind somewhere else.


The only inspections that go quick are when my clients are remote (in another state) so the diclosure has been done, and I will write the report back at the office to email/fax off later.  Those go quick... but I take a LOT more pictures

Jul 12, 2009 05:01 PM #12
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Richard Acree

Home Inspections - Nashville TN

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