Are you done yet?!

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Understanding the Home Inspection Process

As professional home inspectors, one of the most common questions we hear is, “Are you done yet?” It’s understandable—homebuyers, real estate agents and sellers are eager to complete the process and move on to the next steps. However, it’s essential to recognize that a thorough home inspection is a detailed and deliberate process that often requires more time than many people expect. An article on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) website discusses that most home inspections take 2-3 hours. While this is usually true, there are many situations when it may take longer. Here are some reasons why inspections can take longer than anticipated.

Comprehensive Evaluation of the Property

A home inspection involves an evaluation of a lot of systems and details. This includes examining:

  • Exterior elements: Roof, gutters, downspouts, siding, windows, doors, and foundation.
  • Interior elements: Walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, and stairways.
  • Systems: Electrical, plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and insulation.
  • Appliances: Major built-in appliances such as ovens, dishwashers, and water heaters.

Each of these components must be carefully inspected to determine their condition and whether they are functioning correctly. Skipping or rushing through any part of this process could result in missing critical issues that could lead to costly repairs down the line.

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Detailed Reporting

A home inspector must not only perform the physical inspection but also document their findings in a detailed report. This report includes:

  • Descriptions of issues: Explanations of any problems found, including their potential impact.
  • Photographs and video: Visual evidence of issues to provide a clear understanding for the client.
  • Recommendations: Suggested actions to address any problems, which could range from simple maintenance tasks to significant repairs. Many inspectors also provide guidance about who to contact to make repairs, or to further evaluate the condition of a system.

Creating an accurate and comprehensive report takes time. Inspectors need to ensure that their documentation is clear, concise, and easy to understand, as it will be a crucial resource for the client.

Variability of Homes

No two homes are exactly alike, and the variability in home design, age, and condition can significantly impact the duration of an inspection. Factors that can extend the inspection time include:

  • Age of the home: Older homes may have more issues due to wear and tear over the years.
  • Size of the home: Larger homes naturally require more time to inspect due to the increased number of rooms and systems.
  • Unique features: Homes with unique architectural features, custom installations, or extensive landscaping may require additional time to assess thoroughly.
  • Additional systems: Frequently, we find homes with multiple heating and air conditioning systems, multiple water heaters and a number of crawlspaces and attics. These all need to be inspected.
  • Previous renovations: Homes that have undergone multiple renovations may have hidden issues or complexities that need careful examination.

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Access Challenges

Sometimes, gaining access to certain areas of the home can be challenging and time-consuming. Inspectors must check:

  • Attics and crawl spaces: These areas can be difficult to access and navigate but are crucial for identifying issues with insulation, ventilation, or pest infestations.
  • Basements and foundations: Inspecting these areas thoroughly can uncover structural issues or water damage that may not be immediately visible.
  • Roof: Safely accessing and inspecting the roof can be time-consuming but is essential for identifying issues like leaks, missing shingles, or gutter problems.

Client Questions, Education and Interaction

Part of the home inspector’s role is to educate the client about the property’s condition and answer any questions they may have. This interaction is vital for helping clients understand the significance of the inspection findings and make informed decisions. Taking the time to explain issues, discuss potential solutions, and provide maintenance tips ensures that clients are fully informed and comfortable with the process.

Lots of questions come up during a home inspection. We try to address these as we go, but there is a cost to this—time. Questions often bring up additional questions, all of which need to be addressed. Read our previous article that discusses “Can I attend my home inspection?” We always recommend that our clients attend, if possible. Be aware that questions, discussions, and other interactions will add to the time spent at the property.

Read our previous article that discusses “Can I attend my home inspection?” We always recommend that our clients attend if possible. Be aware that questions, discussions, and other interactions will add to the time spent at the property.

Unforeseen Complications

During an inspection, unforeseen complications can arise that require additional time to investigate. These might include:

  • Hidden damage: Issues that are not immediately visible, such as water damage behind walls or electrical problems, can take extra time to uncover and assess.
  • Safety concerns: If safety hazards are discovered, such as gas leaks or structural instability, the inspector must take extra precautions and potentially involve other professionals to address the issues.
  • Complex systems: Homes with complex or advanced systems, like specialized heating systems, or unique building products may require more time to understand and evaluate properly.
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Conclusion

While it might be tempting to rush through a home inspection to save time, doing so can result in overlooked issues and potentially costly repairs in the future. A thorough inspection is an investment in the safety and value of a property. By understanding the reasons why inspections take longer than 1-1/2 hours, clients can appreciate the importance of allowing sufficient time for a detailed and accurate evaluation of their home. As Dunsing Inspections has grown, we have evolved into a company that tries to staff each inspection with enough manpower to complete most inspections in a timely manner.

Afterall, nobody wants to be a home inspection for 6 hours! In the end, the goal of a home inspection is to provide peace of mind and ensure that the client has a thorough understanding of the property’s condition. So, the next time you find yourself asking, “Are you done yet?” remember that the time taken for a meticulous inspection is well worth it for the insights and confidence it provides.

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