How Much Time Does a Home Inspctor Spend on an Inspection?

Home Inspector with Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections

A recent comment by me on Facebook prompted an acquantince to ask me to justify  how I determine the average amount of time spent on an inspection. This was published on my blog, but I thought it may be good to share here.

I calculated that I spend roughly nine hours per home inspection. I know that not all inspectors may sit down to figure this number out, but you should if you wish to price your inspections properly. The nine hour figure seemed high to a person at a party I was attending last night. I mentioned that it was actually down from the over ten hours that it was last year. The inspectors that I know who do think about this topic generally come up with a similiar number. Here are factors to consider when thinking about how much time is spent on the job:

Time at the home- my average is close to three and a quarter hours. This includes inspections of condos to homes.

Pre-inspection prep work- average is around an hour and a half. This includes printing forms needed to perform the inspection. Preparing a package for the home buyer. This package also includes having to do research on a few sites about the home. Some of this research is to prepare me for the inspection.

Post inspection work- organizing my notes, writing my report, and sending out emails takes two hours on average.

Reinspections/time spent explaining findings- some inspectors charge for reinspections. I decided since I often do not meet my clients that it might be better to plan on meeting them at one point. Emails and phone communications are also part of the equation. Add discussions with buyer's or seller's agents, and possibly the mortgage personnel. This avreages to around two hours.

Education to improve service- in Texas we are required to have 16 hours of continuing education. However, we spend time learning about changes to the codes in the state, as well as studying building science and construction techniques on a frequent basis. I spend around ten hours a week on average reading books, periodicals, websites, and research papers. This would add significant hours per inspection, so I picked a number that helps me determine the cost of this education in terms of time (arbitrary, I know, but I felt this may be more reasonable.I took cost divided by $60/hour which is pretty typical for a contractor to come up with the number of hours needed to pay for the education) Average is a half hour.

    I did not include time spent going to and from inspection sites. To help with factors like the cost of office supplies, gas, car maintenance, insurance, and so on would also be calculated per inspection to determine price. I feel that I arrive at a more accurate calculation of cost when considering cost of gas rather than time spent travelling to and from a job. I also have to consider marketing: time spent and cost, but again, this is not really time spent on a specific job.
    This brings my average time on an inspection to approxiamtely nine and a quarter hours.  Why did it go down from last year? Partly increased inspections bringing the average down, and partly improved performance on the inspection. There are a few other factors, but those two cover most of the time savings. I hope this gives you a little insight into what goes into an inspection report.

Comments (15)

Debbie Cullen
REMAX Realty Team-Cape Coral, FL - Cape Coral, FL
Your Cape Coral, FL Specialist

Very interesting blog must have a good business model since you know exactly where you time is spent.  Congrats!

Oct 19, 2009 11:39 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

I know a local inspector that is a structure, decades of experience and not a guy who got a weekend certificate with a decal to put in his back window. He spends typically four hours at a property..checking everything from electrical plug ins to scanning the roof with binoculars. The buyers go along many times and they learn a lot on how to fix this, what to do when they expand, etc.

Oct 19, 2009 11:48 PM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Debbie- when I was a senior operations manager, my home office frequently called upon me to do corporate training. MIS analysis was a common class. I was also the person who always analyzed reports and explained them to the managers. I feel that it makes smart business sense for inspectors to run some analysis on their inspections to understand their true costs. The other point of the post is simply to make people aware that an inspection is more than the time at the home. Thank you for dropping by. :)

Andrew- My typical home inspection on a house does last around four hours. Recently the number of condos that I have been asked to inspect is up (it might have to do with some marketing that I did, because I do not think that condos are becoming a trend). Condo inspections are around two hours on average. I think many home inspectors like to explain how to do repairs (I know that I do); that is why I include time spent talking to the client. Thank you for commenting. :)

Oct 20, 2009 03:06 AM
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

Yikes.  I think, no offense, you need to start to streamline your business a little.  That's way too much time on an inspection.  My inspections are usually about 3 hours and that includes the time the inspectors write up the report ON SITE, print it out, Bind it for the buyers so they have a nice copy, and there are even pictures taken and downloaded into the report. 

My inspectors are VERY thorough. If you factor in drive time, maybe 4 hours at the most.

Oct 20, 2009 07:45 AM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Donna- I am glad that you have found good ones. I know some inspectors who work together, and other inspectors who hire an assistant to record the information from their notes into a report while they continue inspecting. The entire process may be 4 hours, but you have two people working which would be 8 hours of work time to account towards cost (I was also in charge of HR in many locations, which figures into my MIS analysis). My point is that more goes into the inspection than just showing up and looking at the home. Thank you so much for sharing your comment.

Oct 20, 2009 11:18 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy there Frank

Your sure right, there is alot more that goes into a Home Inspection, than just Inspecting the home for our clients. This is an area alot of small business miss up, they don't look at every part of what it really takes to run it. We also need to add in the time, that is spent on advertising, a business so folks can find and use ya. Like here at A R, on Facebook, Twitter, and so many others. And those we setup on our own, and we sure can't leave out the time we work on our websites. I'll let our friend Carl know about your new blog post, my friend

Baker Home Commercial Properties Inspections and Consulting AR Signature

Oct 20, 2009 04:12 PM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Hey Dale- you make a good point about having to consider marketing. I do factor in the cost of marketing on my operating expenses, but the time spent I do not focus in on it too much. For my model, I try to look at items that directly effect performance at the inspection, so education goes in, while office time not geared towards a specific inspection goes out. I do get the feeling that people do not realize what might go into an individual report. Also, I have not encountered an inspector yet who does not spend time learning something new each week to be better at his job. The amount of study may vary, but it is always there.

Oct 20, 2009 09:30 PM
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Frank thank you for taking time to pepare this summarization of what factors combined goes into a home inspection.

Oct 21, 2009 01:27 AM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Hello Carl- thank you for stopping in. I will be in Canyon Lake this weekend. Saturday will be spent at a party at a friend's house in Mystic Shores, and Sunday will be spent in Westhaven with my parents.

Oct 21, 2009 03:22 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy there Frank

I don't always say it the right way, when it comes to talken about time used and spenet to run the business. Folks in business should look at the time they are use-en for every part of it. Not that they really need to add every part, of what they do, in their prices. But they do need to make every bit of that time count.

Baker Home Commercial Properties Inspections and Consulting AR Signature

Oct 22, 2009 03:14 PM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Hi Dale, a friend of mine came across a real estate agent who has not had a sale in two years. Basically, she was not putting any effort into her business. We have to be aware of the work/time that we spend to determine what is effective. I guess that I liked the idea of figuring out my average time spent on an inspection, because it gives me an idea of how much effort is put into a job. Then I can see if I am earning an amount that is comenserate with the effort. My method for setting a price is to first see what the competition is charging. Second, to find what my customers are willing to pay (I lost part of my customer base by having my prices go up by $25, but I was fine with that move). Third, I plan a budget based upon previous costs and projected earnings to ensure that I cover my operating expenses. Fourth, I look at the time spent to see if I am comfortable with the amount earned. That is part of the point for this post. Fifth, I adjust my price to meet those factors. We are loosing home inspectors here in Texas. The latest figure shows about ten inspectors a month recently. Maybe we are just weeding out the part timers. However, if you are in business, you need to treat it like a business, and I think some losses are due to mismanaged firms.

Oct 22, 2009 08:07 PM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

You did a great job of explaining where the time goes.  An hour here, an hour there and it all adds up.  People think you just show up at the home and do a quick inspection and that's all there is to it.  Now they can get a better understanding.

Oct 23, 2009 03:16 PM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Hello Georgina- I am thinking of converting a rickshaw that I am building into that brewery on wheels :) Now I would be able to cart around the kids while making the beer. More reason to exercise. I do not think that our customers understand the effort that many in our industry put into our work. The Realtors that I know do well, do well because of effort that goes on behind the scenes for that customer. It is nice to make them aware of the fact that more goes into our jobs than just showing up.

Oct 24, 2009 01:05 AM
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN

Hello Frank,

You make excellent points in this post.  It is hard to figure all the components that go into owning and running a business.  Like blogging, does that count?  I say yes, because the main reason I participate in ActiveRain is to blog and generate Google Juice.  Part of the Marketing Plan and it takes a lot of time.

When looking at just the Inspection, At HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, serving Nashville and Middle Tennessee for Home Inspections and Commercial Building Inspections, we spend about 1 hour per thousand square feet on-site, and about the same amount of time writing the report.  So a 4000 sqft home takes about 8 hours.  It can swing 1 hour either way depending on the age of the home and whether or not it is occupied.

We think that if a Home Inspector is following the spirit of the rules established by the State of TN, to do any less would be shorting the process, therefore the Client.  In the end, we are told we have some of the most thorough reports in the business.


Richard Acree

Mar 31, 2010 11:13 PM
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Real Estate Inspections - Houston, TX

Hello Richard,

it may be hard, but we really need to think about how our business operates to make improvements, make plans, and deal effectively with costs. I place blogging under my marketing costs. You may a valid point that blogging should be considered. Too often we forget to include our time blogging, on twitter and facebook, or other activity as a cost. We have to consider if we obtain a return on investment (ROI) on this activity. If there is no ROI, why continue.

Mar 31, 2010 11:55 PM