How Long Does a Home Inspection Take? Factors That Matter

The answer to “how long does a home inspection take?” in Southeast Alabama involves the reason behind the inspection and whether the buyer or seller is requesting it. Home inspections are nuanced, and understandably so since they involve a comprehensive review of the state of a home.

Here in Alabama, our inspectors complete the most home inspections within 2-3 hours. Once the inspection is complete, we finalize our report and have it to our customer within 24 hours.

In this post, we discuss what a home inspection entails, factors that influence the length of a home inspection, how sellers can avoid costly negotiations, and how buyers can get the best deal on their new home.

Overview of Home Inspection Process

Home inspections are not legally required for selling a home, which makes it important to know when and why buyers and sellers should schedule them. Understanding the value of a home inspection in the selling process is a part of estimating how long a home inspection would take.

Home inspections are sometimes required by contract and buyers tend to ask their real estate agents for help with an inspection. Real estate agents in the Dothan area have established networks of inspectors, and make it easy for buyers to find the right team for the job.

A home inspection involves reviewing the structural and cosmetic condition of a home. Inspectors are trained to determine the living condition of a home by examining everything from the property’s exterior to the installed appliances.

In this way, home inspections help buyers protect the investment made in their homes. Furthermore, some banks require buyers to submit an inspection report as a part of the appraisal process.

A house with mold, wood rot, pests, or other major issues can result in price reductions for the seller. Depending on the results outlined in the inspection report, a buyer may choose to back out of the purchase agreement.

Sellers who want to get the best price for the property get an inspector to evaluate their home before putting it on the market. This enables them to avoid surprises, get higher offers, and make any necessary repairs before any sellers show up.

How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?

Every home is different, and there are many factors that influence the duration of home inspections. Here are a few things that influence how long an inspection will take.

Home Size

Generally speaking, a house that is between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet takes about two hours to evaluate. In other words, our inspectors will get through about 500 square feet in roughly thirty minutes.

However, the older the house is, the longer an inspection could take since older homes tend to have outdated electrical systems, plumbing defects, and structural damage that take a while to identify.

Crawl spaces and attics also impact timing. Crawl spaces are under the home’s floor and have to be crawled through in order to assess the foundation, electrical, plumbing, HVAC ducting, wood-boring insect damage, and more.

Condition of the Home

A property that’s in good condition will have fewer issues for the inspector to look at. If the condition of the home is poor, the inspection will take longer.

Age of the Property

Properties that are more than 75 years old tend to have unique components that involve a more nuanced inspection process. It is reasonable to assume that an older home will take an hour longer to inspect than newer construction.


The home’s design makes a big difference in its accessibility. If a home has a basement or yard, or other complex structures that are more difficult to inspect, the inspection time will get extended.


Home inspectors always take a look at the roof and take notes on its condition at some point during the inspection. Windy and rainy weather can make this part of the inspection more challenging. Excessive rain or snow can make inspecting the roof nearly impossible.

If the weather is bad, the inspector may have to visit the property later and finish the job.

Number of Installed Systems

Inspection of all the systems in a home is part of the home inspection process. The inspector will examine everything from the plumbing systems to the heating and cooling systems.

If the property has an HVAC system or a gas connection, the inspection will take longer to complete.

Foundation Type

It is conventional for inspectors to examine the condition of the home’s foundation. If the property has a crawl space or basement, it could take between 30 minutes to an hour longer to complete the inspection.

State Legislation

While there is no federal law that mandates home inspections, most states have requirements concerning the process. Home inspection reports in different states look vastly different since some districts have older homes that are more likely to have outdated systems. In this way, a state’s legislation can influence how long a home inspection takes.

With Cornerstone Home Inspectors, you can expect to receive a home inspection report within 24 hours of the inspection. Some inspectors can deliver their inspection reports on-site, but this is not always the case.

How Much Does it Cost?

A home inspection can cost between $350 and $2,000 dollars or more. The typical home costs about $400 for a standard home inspection. You can learn more by reading our post on Home Inspection Costs.

What Happens in a Home Inspection?

The inspector will examine the home for health and safety, and take a close look at the major systems in the home to assess the livability. To make a full report of the condition of the property, in addition to taking note of cosmetic defects such as chipped features, the inspector will also examine the structural components of the property.

The American Society of Home Inspectors explains that a home inspector is trained to review the following aspects of a home:

  • Air conditioning system
  • Heating
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • Attic
  • Roof
  • Ceilings, walls, and floors
  • Doors and windows
  • Foundation
  • Basement

Your home inspector will use a comprehensive checklist to evaluate each of these components and when they were last replaced, how long they should last, and any issues that need fixing. Most home inspectors will also indicate the severity of any issues and even provide you with a general idea of how much it would cost to complete repairs.

Some home inspections will cover issues like radon, mold, and termites, but others may require you to obtain additional specialist reports for these items. Many states and lenders require a separate pest inspection for termites and other wood-destroying insects, since the presence of these pests may affect the structural integrity of the home.

To ensure your home inspection goes smoothly, find a home inspector you can trust. You can do this by searching for home inspectors in the city where your home is located and looking at their reviews and history.

Your real estate agent may make suggestions about inspectors they have worked with before. You can also ask family or friends who have purchased homes recently if they have anyone they can recommend.

In the end, the home inspector you select is up to you. Some can be more expensive, but they may also be more detailed in their report and have more expertise. It’s all up to you and how much you want to spend.

NACHI has an inspector search tool you can use to find home inspectors in your area. Try choosing a home inspector who has completed a minimum of 100 fee-paid inspections and has at least one year of experience in the field.

Prior to your inspection, your real estate agent should coordinate with the seller’s agent to ensure that the home is ready for inspection. This may require the seller to clear any areas in the basement or attic that the inspector needs to move through to inspect the systems and structural components there. If the utilities have been disconnected because the home is currently vacant, they will need to be reconnected for the inspection.

How long does a home inspection take on average?

The average home inspection time for our inspectors in the Wiregrass region is between 2-and 3 hours. Of course, for the reasons mentioned above, this time could change.

On average, you can add a half-hour of inspection time for every 500 square feet of space, according to Home Inspector Insider. The experience of the inspector also matters when trying to figure out how long the inspection will take since a veteran will know the area, what to look for in houses based on their age, and how to access systems that may be more out of the way.

Depending on the age of the house, its size, and accessibility, these inspections could take longer. However, you may also be wondering how long an inspection report takes to be finalized and that, thankfully, doesn’t change too much with the house. For our inspection services, reports are ready within 24 hours.

How to prepare for a home inspection

There are quite a few things that can expedite the home inspection process, especially for those who are anxiously wondering how long a home inspection takes. This will be especially true for those who need to sell quickly and are already using instant offer services like to try to get their sale completed in a hurry.

Even if time isn’t the issue, expediting the home inspection process can de-stress everyone and make the process run more smoothly.

The first thing you can do to prepare for a home inspection, and make it take less time, is to prepare maintenance receipts on the house beforehand, so the inspector knows more about the house’s history. Simply put, you’ll want to have the paperwork ready. Both sellers and buyers’ agents can prepare this information.

Areas of the houses that are difficult to access, like crawlspaces and furnaces, can also be made more accessible to expedite the inspection process. Any cleaning you can do to remove clutter from the house and make it easier for the inspector to get around can also reduce how long a home inspection takes.

Check out our post on what you can do to prepare for your home inspection.

What happens after a home inspection?

After a home inspection, the inspector compiles their notes into a report that becomes available to you within 24 hours after the inspection was conducted. 

What happens after a home inspection? The report is typically evaluated by the agent and the buyer or seller, depending on who conducted the inspection, to determine the next course of action. For a buyer, this will likely be to continue with the offer contract as previously decided and move forward with the purchase, or renegotiate their offer on the house. They could also ask for a “repair credit.” Some may decide to pull out of the sale altogether based on the results of the home inspection.

For a seller, the inspection could change their listing or make them reconsider their price. Having the inspection ready for prospective buyers helps not only to build trust with the buyer’s agent but also to expedite the buying process.

How long is a home inspection good for?

Most home inspection companies offer a warranty on the inspection for 90 days, according to Zip Realty. After that period of time, you may, unfortunately, need to redo the inspection.

Should I Be Present for the Inspection?

You are not required to be present at the inspection. At Cornerstone, we offer remote video walk-throughs upon request and make ourselves available by phone to answer any questions about the report. However, you are welcome to come to the property at the end of our inspection for a face-to-face review.

The inspection is the best opportunity you will have to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced, and unbiased professional about the condition of the home you intend to purchase. The inspector is not a contractor and isn’t trying to rack up zeros on an estimate. Their job is to give you an impartial, accurate, and detailed analysis of the home you are considering.

The inspection report will provide lots of information for you to reference, but you will miss out on a great deal of rich detail if you don’t walk through the house with the inspector and let them show you what they see.

There are a few key benefits of being present during the inspection you won’t want to pass up:

Ensures issues get addressed

If there are concerns about mold or water in the basement, the inspector can show you exactly where the indications of those issues are and what to look for on your own to ensure they’re addressed fully.

This can be especially helpful if the seller will complete repairs before closing. You’ll need to know what to look for during the walk-through to be sure that all repairs are complete and the house is in good working order.

Puts defects into perspective

Having a conversation with the home inspector can also help to put the various issues documented on the report in perspective. They will help you understand the scope and severity of each of the items they encounter so you can make an informed decision about your home purchase.

For example, if a water heater needs to be replaced, the inspector can tell you generally how much that will cost. If the roof is found to be in good condition, the inspector will tell you how long you have before you will need to do any maintenance, and if you need to replace the whole roof or just add another layer of shingles.

Helps you get to know your new home

Home inspectors are experienced professionals with a vast amount of knowledge about houses and home maintenance. Use your inspection as an opportunity to ask questions and come to understand the home from the inside-out just as they do.

If you are planning to do any renovations to the home after closing, your home inspector is also a great person to ask about those plans. They can help identify load-bearing walls and describe the scope of home systems to help you consider various options for renovation before you even speak with a contractor.

Potentially lowers the price

By identifying any significant issues with the home like mold, leakage, or foundation problems ahead of time, you can potentially get a discount on the sale price, or a credit for repairs.

Your real estate agent can also be present for the inspection, and you may forward them a copy of your inspection report. This ensures that your agent has all the information they need to get you the best price on your new home. If there are any issues that require negotiation with the seller, you’ll want your agent to fully understand the scope of these issues and how they will need to be addressed.

The Takeaway

How long does a home inspection take? About 2-3 hours.

The time it takes to conduct a home inspection depends on the condition and age of the house, the experience of the inspector, and the accessibility of its systems. Some old houses with concrete walls or inconveniently located HVAC systems can take longer than the average to inspect.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, home inspections are an essential part of the homebuying process. Despite not being required by law, they are often needed to take out a mortgage and to finalize offer contracts. Before home inspections happen, both buyers and sellers can do things to ensure that they go smoothly, such as having the necessary paperwork ready and making sure the house is accessible.

After a home inspection, price negotiation may follow, as well as new terms based on the information uncovered during the inspection. You may be wondering how long a home inspection takes, but no matter how inconvenient, they are an essential aspect of homebuying that any buyer or seller needs to use to their advantage. It could save both parties time and money in the long run.