How Long Should a Home Inspection Take to Complete?

Home Clock Inspections

One of the most common questions asked when clients call to book a home inspection is, "How long should the inspection take to complete?" In fairness, this is a really practical question as clients need to plan their inspection day as much as the inspector does.

Every home is unique which means every home will take a different amount of time to properly inspect however most homes will fall into a 'normal' inspection time frame for the inspector. What is 'normal' to a home inspector however can vary based on the inspectors experience, levels of service, and any add-ons to the inspection.

What 'The Industry' Says

In British Columbia where we are based, all home inspectors need to be licensed from the Province of BC. In order to obtain that license, we must be members of a major professional association such as CAHPI to which we belong. 

CAPHI's 'final exam' for new home inspectors is called a Peer Review Inspection. Basically, the examiners have pre-inspected a house for deficiencies (including making some of their own) and turn loose all the home inspection students to look for these deficiencies. This exam/inspection is limited to 3-hours for the site inspection itself (students are given to the end of the day to turn in the written report). 

So, according to CAHPI, a newly qualified home inspector should be able to inspect a complete house to the standards of practice within 3 hours. With experience, home inspectors will be able to shave 30min or even a little more off this time.

House Size, Complexities, and Deficiencies

When we book a 'standard' house, we are thinking of a single-family house up to about 3,000 sq ft with a single kitchen and up to 3 bathrooms. When houses start to get larger or include extra kitchens or baths, it will naturally take additional time to complete the inspection which is typically budgeted in at the time of the inspection booking.

The biggest variable to inspection time however is the time to write up building defects. Identified defects take time for inspectors to properly document and to write up the next steps. If a home has many defects, this can add considerable time to the home inspection.

Older homes are also typically more complex to inspect. Older homes have often been through more than one renovation cycle, have building materials that may be past the expected service life requiring extra attention, and have smaller accesses to areas like attics or crawlspaces.

Inspection Add-On's and Extra Services

The standards of practice for home inspection lay out the minimum levels of service to be provided but some clients want to add on services like Infrared Inspections, and some home inspects go above and beyond the basics which can take additional time.

There are inspectors who plan to spend a full day in a home looking for issues. They may remove additional electrical covers and inspect wiring, they may run comprehensive tests on mechanical equipment, or they may just be slow at what they do. We have even heard of an inspector who goes through the neighbours yards and garbage to see what type of neighbours you might have. Be careful of inspectors offering to go too far past the standards of practice as the professional standards already are designed to offer you protection against the major concerns of a home purchase. Some of these inspectors are just looking for a way to get extra money from you for time spent on frivolous extras (it is easier to get more money from less clients than to find more clients).

How Long Do We Budget for Inspections?

At Solid State Inspections, we stick pretty close to the home inspection professional standards except we typically add major appliances to our inspections. That said, with our experience and technology, we tell clients to budget for these 'normal' inspection times unless additional services or known complexities are present.

  • House Inspection - 3-hours budgeted +/- 30 min inc. the verbal report and walk-through
  • Townhouse Inspection - 2.5-hours budgeted +/- 30 min inc. the verbal report and walk-through
  • Condo Inspection - 2-hours budgeted +/- 20 min inc. the verbal report and walk-through

By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.