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How Long Do Home Inspections Take?

Richard Latimer

May 12, 2021

How Long Do Home Inspections Take?

When considering buying or selling a home, there is a variety of situations that require a home inspection – just to ensure the home is in the expected order and the sale can go ahead. In this case, the inspection includes a review of the mechanical, structural, and electrical aspects of a home as a means of identifying any flaws.

Despite the stated importance, however, the inspections are not in fact required by law – rather, they can be used as a tool for a smoother and more efficient sale, making both the seller and the buyer more satisfied. For the seller it ensures that the buyer will not have any unexpected surprises after the sale, thus no time-consuming complaints to deal with, and no additional administrative work and paper signing – every seller knows this is good news.

For the buyer on the other hand, the quality of the home they are buying is usually absolutely crucial – it may be one of the biggest investments they will ever make, and as such ensuring the house is in the order, they expect it to be is more than essential – and there is no better way to guarantee no surprises, than a home inspection.

So, if you are on either side of the equation, keep on reading to find out the most important things to know about a home inspection, including of course, the length and how to make it as not time-consuming as possible.

💡 Key Insight: Even though you can circumvent a home inspection, unless you are a professional cash home buyer then we would suggest getting one--that applies to both parties--the seller or the buyer

Why is a Home Inspection Necessary?

Despite the fact that we have already outlined the main principles, it is crucial to understand why a home inspection should always be an investment to take before the sale of a house. In today’s market, quality is everything – and therefore to even make an offer and succeed in attracting a buyer, the inspection is more than necessary.

And this even though the mistakes and flaws of the house are often what the seller is trying to get rid of. Keep in mind that if you are selling a house, the way to go is never through secrecy – if the owner finds undisclosed flaws, they may have a standing to even sue, depending on the size of the surprise.

As far as the buyer is concerned, it is likely that he or she will demand an inspection – as the property market is highly competitive, if the seller fails to satisfy their needs, they can simply go to another one. Sometimes, however, this inspection may take place only after the buyer has signed the offer, thus being highly unbeneficial to them – if flaws are additionally found, they may or may not have the standing to retract their contract, but the overall likeliness that they can take back their signature is low.

As such, if you are the buyer, you should always require a home inspection beforehand, so that you know there are no surprises waiting for you.

💡 Key Insight: A typical real estate contingency is the inspection contingency. This means if that the buyer is able to re-negotiate repairs into the contract or back out altogether if there are many problems that come up in the inspection report

When to Order a Home Inspection?

It is essential that the home inspection is done sooner rather than later in the sale process, as it gives both the buyer and the seller time to make any additional important decisions. If the inspection is pushed back in the purchasing process, the seller may be rushed into having major repairs done.

This may actually be more costly to the seller – as due to the time pressure they may choose the wrong contractor, or the contractor may even charge more money for managing the repair in a shorter time period.

For the buyer, the reason for an earlier inspection is quite straightforward – the issues which need repairing will be solved earlier in the purchasing process, so they can have more confidence they have made the right decision. Further, there will not be any additional surprises when they finally move in.

Some buyers rather prefer to look at the property themselves, thinking they will not overlook any issues, just because it will save them money. In the short term, it very well may, but there is a wide variety of subtle issues that an appliance may be about to break or is not functioning which an amateur may simply overlook. And in the long term, these ‘little’ issues may build up and actually end up costing the buyer a large amount of money for repairs – far more than a simple inspection would have cost.

On the other hand, if the buyer takes their time and invests in a home inspection before the sale of the house, they can not only withdraw from the deal if they do not like the house anymore but may actually pressure the seller to pay for the repairs themselves, therefore saving far more money than was spent on the inspection.

And even if it in fact turns out that the house does not need any additional repairs and is in perfect condition, the inspection was still worth it – it gives the buyer peace of mind that this will actually be a good investment and that they have chosen the right home, and that no surprises are awaiting them.

Additionally, the inspection can prepare the buyer for any further changes they would like to make to the house in the future. For example, the roof may be starting to show age, or there are other issues that are not necessarily pressing and will not be paid for by the seller, but the buyer can account for them when planning future budgeting, therefore, there are essentially disadvantages to the inspection, and the buyer is highly advised to undertake it early in the sale process even if paid from their own pocket.

💡 Key Insight: If you want the real estate process to go smoothly and quickly then get the house inspection at the beginning of the process

Finally, What to Expect with a Home Inspection?

There are numerous variables that will influence the length of a home inspection, from the conditions of the house to its size or the agency conducting the inspection. The more issues there are within the home, the longer the inspection is, obviously, expected to take to be completed. A normal house inspection is expected to take anywhere from three to four hours, but it is essential that you do not consider this to be a rigid number, as explained before.

If you are wondering whether to be present during these three to four hours or not, it is important to note that it is not a requirement, however, both the buyer and their agent are expected to walk with the inspector – as it is a key part of the process. This way, they have an indication of precisely where the issues of the house are and are directly explained the crucks of the issue by the inspector.

The inspector will be examining both the interior and the exterior of the house thoroughly and in a comprehensive manner, or at least is expected to. Inspectors are in particular looking for issues within the foundation of the home, doors, and windows, electrical system, cooling system, roof, structure, and plumbing in order to ensure that a costly problem doesn’t occur shortly after the home is sold.

💡 Key Insight: After the inspection is over then you will receive an inspection report. The report will list any problems and state the general condition of the property

After the Inspection

Afterwards, a detailed report will be written by the inspector, allowing the buyer or the seller to take steps with the information they acquire. The seller can make additional repairs and therefore increase their chance of getting a buyer in a largely competitive property market, while the buyer can demand the seller either pay for any repairs needed, or if they are unwilling to do this, demand the price is lower. In the worst-case scenario, the buyer can always pull of out of the deal, if the inspection is done before a contract, and therefore save their well-earned money for a better home and a better investment.

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