Buying a home is one of the largest investments most individuals will make. While no single item can guarantee a completely stress free home purchase, a home inspection can provide some peace of mind to the buyer before they sign on the dotted line.
So about how long does a home inspection take? Well, it depends on the size of the property.
How long does a home inspection take, and what is the cost?
A typical home inspection, based on a 2,000 square foot home, should take around 2-3 hours. If your home is larger or smaller than 2,000 SF, that estimate may go up or down. It will cost you anywhere from $400-$1000, depending on where you live and the experience of the home inspector.
Within a day or two of the inspection, you will receive a written report with pictures, detailing any issues that the home inspector uncovered. Here is an example from one of mine.
Why do you need a home inspection?
A home inspector delves deep into the home and its condition, and alerts the buyer to any potential concerns. A home inspection increases the confidence of the buyer, and may relieve the anxiety of the seller in the event of a future legal action for an undisclosed problem with the home.
Regulations and requirements vary by state regarding what exactly is included in a home inspection. For example, California requires an inspection of energy efficiency as part of the home inspection.
Here are some of the advantages of having a home inspection:
- It may help the buyer in making a decision that the property is sound.
- Provides knowledge of exactly what you are purchasing before signing a contract.
- The home inspection may uncover the need for replacement of, or repairs to, wiring, roofing, or other structural concerns. The inspection provides the buyer with information to make an informed buying decision.
- If some deficiencies are found, and the buyer is still interested in purchasing the home, it gives the buyer some bargaining power.
- The home inspection is a document that provides the buyer invaluable information about the condition of the property and when the need for replacement of major systems may occur.
- It gives the buyer another opportunity to spend time walking through the home with the inspector, and to look at it in more detail, before making a commitment to purchase it.
Can buyers attend the inspection?
Yes. In most cases you can and it would be to your benefit! It gives you one more chance to walk around the home and really spend time looking at all the details. Furthermore, you can ask the inspector to show you all of the home's systems and see how they work.
If you'd like to bring a family member, contractor, or a knowledgable friend or two along with you, that is also allowed. After all, you are making an important and very expensive decision! You should enlist all the help you need.
What is an inspection contingency and do I need one?
Contingencies are a set of conditions that need to be satisfied before the sale can be completed. The 3 standard contingencies include:
- Inspection Contingency
- Appraisal Contingency
- Financing Contingency
Each of these will be assigned a date, in the escrow process, by which they will need to be “waved” by the buyer (the buyer agrees they can no longer use this as an opportunity to bail out of the purchase).
The buyer has a right to cancel the transaction before the assigned date if: they don’t like the inspection, the house doesn’t appraise for the sale price, or their financing doesn’t come through for them.
An inspection contingency is important to have, because you will want to opportunity to back out of a deal if the inspection reveals significant defects that make the home a bad investment. The contingency gives you the peace of mind to make an offer on a home, knowing that you can get out of it if necessary, with no penalty.
Keep in mind that contingencies are negotiable. As a buyer, you can make an offer that has no contingencies at all, if you really, really want a property. It would certainly make your offer attractive. But this would be ill advised, unless you are a seasoned real estate investment pro.
What questions should I ask a home inspector before I hire them?
Buyers and sellers need to be aware that not all home inspection companies are alike, and the items they look for may not be comparable. Remember too, that your real estate agent is a good source for referrals, but check references before making any final decisions.
Here are items to consider when hiring a home inspector:
- What kind of experience does the inspector have? How long have they been in business? Are they licensed within the state? How many homes have they inspected? Can they provide references from clients?
- Has the inspector undertaken any specialized training? Do they have any complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau?
- Does the inspector belong to any specialized trade associations or professional organizations? (Hiring an inspector associated with a well-known trade organization should help weed out any shady individuals. Well known trade associations include the American Society of Home Inspectors and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.)
- What kind of insurance do they carry? (The inspector should carry professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance. If you need to file a legal claim against the inspector, the policy would pay that claim. An inspector without insurance may not be able to pay a claim filed.)
So how long does a home inspection take? In only 2-3 hours for a 2,000 SF home, you can buy some peace of mind in knowing no major structural or wiring or roofing issues were uncovered. Furthermore, a home inspection gives you one more chance to walk through your potential home with the inspector, and make sure you are ready to buy.