How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

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 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 home inspector's experience.

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 future legal action for an undisclosed problem with the home.

Regulations and requirements vary by state regarding what 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 deciding 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 assessment provides the buyer with information to make an informed buying decision.
  • If 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 knowledgeable friend, that is also allowed. After all, you are making a significant and costly decision! You should enlist all the help you need.

What is an inspection contingency, and do I need one?

Contingencies are conditions that must be satisfied before the sale can be completed. The three standard contingencies include:

  • Inspection Contingency
  • Appraisal Contingency
  • Financing Contingency

Each of these will be assigned a date in the escrow process, which will need to be “waved” by the buyer (the buyer agrees they can no longer use this as an opportunity to bail out 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 vital because you will want 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 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 with no contingencies if you 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 must be aware that not all home inspection companies are alike, and the items they look for may not be comparable. Remember 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 have professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance. If you need to file a legal claim against the inspector, the policy will pay that claim. An inspector without insurance may be unable to pay a claim.)


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 ensure you are ready to buy.

Founder at Play Louder !

Joe DiSanto is the founder of Play Louder! He has built multi-million dollar businesses, produced critically acclaimed documentaries and an Emmy-winning TV show, invested millions in real estate, and semi-retired at age 43. Now, Joe serves as a Fractional CFO for several creative firms and is sharing a lifetime of fiscal know-how via Play Louder, an invaluable resource that helps individuals and business owners increase their net worth and plan better for their future.