By Keith Boggs
Posted July 17, 2020 at 2:00 pm
We are living in some very challenging times, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Life, however, goes on. And while some home sellers have decided to take their properties off the market until better times (thus reducing the number of homes on the market), mortgage rates have also toppled to record lows, with 30-year fixed mortgage rates falling below 3% in June 2020.
So, while it may be more difficult to find the perfect dream home today, eager home buyers are still acquiring properties at steady rates. And that means home inspections are happening as well! But these important services do look very different today.
With one of the most frequently asked questions about home inspections being: “How long does a home inspection take?” we thought it would be good to revisit a blog post we shared last year to update it given our current challenges.
Before the Pandemic: How Long Did a Home Inspection Take?
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post addressing the “how long does a home inspection take” question. And here were our thoughts on this common question back then:
The simple answer is that most home inspections take between two and four hours, but a number of factors come into play.
Inspecting even a small home is a big job. The home inspector has a long list of mechanical and structural components to evaluate, including the roof, foundation, drainage, exterior walls, windows, doors, chimney, patios, decks, driveways, walkways, attics, electrical systems, cooling systems, heating systems, and much more.
Additionally, properties vary in size and composition. The larger the home, the longer the inspection will take, with a good rule of thumb being that for every 1,000 square feet, the inspector should spend about one hour. So, my 2,850 square foot home should take roughly three hours to inspect. The presence of certain items, like a pool, spa, or outbuildings will add to the inspection time.
Finally, older or historic homes may take longer to inspect, particularly if the home has undergone extensive renovations, which can lead to complicating factors, like hybrid electrical and plumbing systems. Homes that haven’t been well-maintained can also take longer, as the inspector simply has more notes and pictures to take to fully represent the home’s condition.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted Home Inspections
We also wrote a blog post on the pandemic’s impact on home inspections a few months ago, and we are still feeling COVID-19’s effect on home inspections, particularly as the second wave (or continuation of the first wave) is on everyone’s mind. Here are the three biggest changes we’ve seen to home inspections as a result of the coronavirus pandemic:
- Top-notch inspectors are taking extra precautions. They know the work they do has the potential to affect the health and wellness of anyone who comes into the home after the inspector has done his work. The most vigilant inspectors maintain social distancing with anyone onsite and wear a face mask when closer interaction is needed. They wear gloves for the duration of the inspection, except when they need to take their gloves off to operate wet components. They sanitize their equipment both before and after the inspection. They provide extra gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer available for the clients to use if needed. And they disinfect any major components they touch that the buyer might also touch. Which leads me to the next major change…
- The inspector inspects the home alone. In the past, we’ve recommended that home buyers attend the inspection. Because, while they may have been in the home before, this gives them an opportunity to spend a few uninterrupted hours reassessing the property openly — seeing themselves in the home, noticing details they may not have noticed before, and perhaps considering where they’ll place their furniture. They can also ask the home inspector questions while everything is fresh in their minds and get an early preview of the inspector’s findings before they receive the full report. Today, the story has changed. We recommend that the inspector inspects the home alone, following up with the client virtually. And finally…
- The quality of the inspection report and access to the inspector for follow-up is more important than ever. Social distancing isn’t conducive to having post-inspection, in-person discussions. So, your inspector should provide a detailed report with hundreds of photos and videos along with a full video debrief of their findings. And they should be easily available after you review the report and watch the videos to answer any questions you may have.
A COVID-19 Perspective: How Long Does a Home Inspection Take?
All our earlier, pre-pandemic thoughts above still apply. And bottom line, the length of a home inspection doesn’t change much with the coronavirus, but there are a few things we’d like to highlight.
First, the length of the actual process of inspecting components and systems itself doesn’t change much. But the inspector spends more time “suiting up” for the inspection and disinfecting himself and the components he inspects. So, the actual duration of the inspection itself may be slightly longer than normal.
Additionally, the inspector may spend less time on-site if they’re not debriefing with the client immediately after the inspection, but he will likely spend at least as much, if not more, time debriefing and discussing the report over the phone and answering questions that may arise after the fact.
For more information about what to expect during a home inspection, we hope you’ll take a moment to read the following posts, and please let us know if we can be of assistance:
- For Homebuyers: What Happens Before, During, and After a Home Inspection
- A Simplified Home Inspection Checklist for Buyers
- Be Prepared! Our Top 5 Home Inspection Tips for Buyers
And for more information on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the housing market, please check out the May 2020 Housing Market Forecast from realtor.com.
Image Credit: Canva
About Our Licensed Dallas Home Inspections
Keith Boggs is the owner of Stonebriar Property Inspections. He is your personal home inspector, and his investment in the company will be reflected in the quality of your inspection. Mr. Boggs’ inspection reports are professional, comprehensive, detailed, and clear. They average about 70 pages and include 80 to 100 color images and include detail findings and recommendations along with tips and best practices for maintaining your home. Stonebriar Property Inspection’s customer reviews speak to Keith’s reputation as an ethical, reliable, and courteous Dallas home inspector. Stonebriar Property Inspections is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating. SPI is fully licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission for home inspections and the Texas Department of Agriculture for termite/wood destroying insect inspections.