How long does a home inspection take?

Home inspector looking at a home's exterior for issues

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A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. It’s important to know how long they take, so you can plan accordingly.

In this article, I’ll answer a very common home buyer question: “How long does a home inspection take?”

But first, it’s important to know why an inspection is done in the first place. 

Why is an inspection done?

Congrats! You’ve found your dream home, your offer has been accepted, and you’re ready to move into your new home! Not so fast! One important step in the home buying process for every home buyer is to perform a home inspection before signing the purchase agreement. Though general home inspections are not required, they are very highly recommended, and a termite inspection report is required and built into the New York state contract.

The main purpose of a home inspection is to uncover any major and minor issues within a house. This protects prospective buyers from incurring unexpected expensive projects after closing. Home inspections also detail the buyer’s responsibilities for maintenance as the home’s new owner.

When to order a home inspection

In a competitive market, you will want to schedule an inspection early, usually within 24 hours of your offer getting accepted. Because contracts are not signed in New York state until after home inspections are completed or waived (not recommended), you’ll want to move as quickly as possible before another offer comes in. This is why I always suggest prospective buyers find a home inspector they trust before they even find their dream home.

The home inspection process

Your home inspector will take you on a thorough walkthrough of the interior of the home, the exterior of the house, and along the property looking for signs of wear and tear, deferred maintenance, and anything that could need major repairs.

During the home inspection, your home inspector will assess the physical structure of the house by inspecting areas that many sellers and homeowners rarely access, such as crawl spaces, attics, basements and the roof. Keep in mind that home inspectors cannot inspect areas of the house or property they cannot see or reach, so it is important that sellers provide access to all areas of the home. 

Some things your inspector will look at:

  • Roof and gutter materials and condition 
  • Framing and siding 
  • Foundation integrity
  • Doors, windows, skylights, landings, porches
  • Ventilation in the kitchen, bath and laundry
  • Chimneys and fireplaces
  • Condition of appliances and fixtures
  • Signs of water infiltration
  • Proper exterior grading and water drainage
  • Pest infestation

Inside the house, all major systems will be looked at and tested to determine whether they are safe and in working order. These include:

  • Electrical system
  • Heating and cooling systems (HVAC system)
  • Plumbing systems
  • Cesspools or septic system
  • Water heater

A separate wood-eating insect / termite inspection will also be done.

Future maintenance of the home

One often underrated and overlooked portion of the inspection that can prove beneficial is that your home inspector will walk you through what home maintenance items you will be responsible for once you take ownership of the house, and suggest any recommended repairs you may need to do after purchasing the home.

This is especially important in older houses where the systems are working but on their last leg. For example, the plumbing may be in safe and working order today, but your inspector estimates you’ll need a boiler replacement in five years. You’ll need to remember and budget for this in the future.

The home inspection report

Within 24-48 hours of the home inspection, you’ll receive a detailed, written report for you to review. It will include pictures of the inspector’s findings and notes on their conditions and suggested repairs. 

Keep in mind the inspection report is not a to-do list for the seller. The findings are mainly for informational purposes for a prospective buyer to decide whether they want to move forward with the purchase as is or if necessary repairs are needed. The inspection report also does not include quotes for the cost of suggested fixes or upgrades. 

When are additional inspections recommended?

If a home inspector finds major issues with the structural components of a house, they may suggest an engineer come in to take a closer look at the structural issues. You can choose to hire an engineer to inspect a house instead of a home inspector, but an engineer’s report is generally more expensive.

How long does a home inspection take?

Expect the average home inspection time to be between two and four hours. There are many factors that affect how long an inspection will take, and most homes on Long Island will lean closer to a two hour inspection time, but in general, smaller houses will usually take less time, and larger houses will take longer.

What to bring on home inspection day

All principal buyers in the sale should be at the inspection, as should their real estate agent, but try to limit any non-decision makers who might distract the inspector. If you have friends or family who aren’t principals in the sale, but you value their opinion, it’s best to have them look at the home before you submit an offer. Waiting until inspection day for a relative or friend to say they don’t like the style of the home puts the seller in a bad position, and you’ll lose several hundreds of dollars for a needless home inspection.

Some buyers choose to bring a home inspection checklist with them on inspection day, but experienced and licensed home inspectors will have far more knowledge than any simple list found online, so be sure to listen and follow along with your home inspector as they examine and comment on the home.

And though it couldn’t hurt to take a notebook with you to jot down any questions you have during the process, you won’t need to take notes or pictures every step of the way. Your inspector will be doing that throughout.

Who pays for the home inspection?

The prospective buyer pays for the home inspection; therefore, the home inspection report is the buyer’s property. The seller may ask for a copy of the written report, but it is up to the discretion of the buyer to provide the seller access to it.

On Long Island, a standard inspection costs between $500 and $700.

Negotiations

Once you receive the detailed report, you can decide whether or not you would like to request repairs. If you request necessary repairs be done based on the inspection findings, your buyer’s agent may suggest sharing parts of the home inspection with the seller. This can prove highly advantageous during negotiations.

If a seller does not want to perform the requested fixes, a repair credit may be offered to the buyer instead. In some cases, if costly fixes are needed, the buyer may renegotiate their initial offer to a lower price.

During a strong seller’s market, though, it is not uncommon for sellers to reject smaller repair requests such as a leaky faucet, or to reject any and all repair requests outright. Knowing how competitive the real estate market is for the house you are buying can affect how you negotiate inspection items.

Conclusion

Now that you know how long a home inspection takes, what to bring on the day of, and who pays for it, you’re ready to move forward with your purchase.

Author

Cristina Morizio

Long Island real estate agent Cristina Morizo
As an experienced REALTOR® and Long Island native, I know the ins and outs of the real estate market. I help home buyers, sellers, investors and homeowners navigate and negotiate. Questions? Ready to buy or sell? Let’s talk!

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