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According to the title of this blog, as well as according to many home inspection companies - Time Is Money!

So now the question is how much time should a home inspector spend inspecting a residential property? It's a no-brainer and the answer is simply as much time as is needed to perform a professional and thorough home inspection for ones clients. Nothing less!

Let's take for instance a single family home of about 1200 square feet with an attached 1 car garage, and having 1 1/2 bathrooms, 1 fireplace and an accessible attic. What do you figure for inspection time?

If you said about a few hours you would be wrong and you would be on the same page as a cookie cutter home inspection company, as well as some real estate agents. After all, you might say, it is not some gargantuan Mac Mansion. And you may be thinking, How long could it possibly take to inspect a house of that size?

Well my friend let me give you an idea of what a professional home inspection time frame encompasses. To give you some semblance of what my time table would entail on a house this size I'm going to take you on an virtual inspection tour of this sample property.

First, I always start on the exterior of the property - unless there is inclement weather. My exterior inspection includes the roof and all of its components (roof covering, roof ventilation, roof drainage system, chimney system) as well as the siding and trim, windows including basement windows, basement entrance, foundation, entrances and exits, all exterior electrical, the garage exterior and interior and adjunct areas such as the driveway, walkways, and site grading.

Take a guess at the minimum amount of time that I would need to inspect the exterior and record my inspection findings. Did you say at least a minimum of 1 hour? If you did - you would be right.

My next stop would be to the most important part of a dwelling - the basement.

Why the most important? Because it contains all the big ticket items. I often refer to the basement as the heart of the house since this is where the equipment (heating/cooling, electrical plumbing and hot water systems) are located that makes the house mechanically functional.

In addition to inspecting all of the electrical-mechanical systems, I have to inspect the condition of the basement framing system, the foundation, look for evidence of past water entry and signs of wood rot. Although not required I also check for signs of past insect activity - such as termites and for evidence of what may be mold growths. When you think about it - that's a heck of a lot of work.

Time wise what do you figure?

If you said at least a minimum of 2 hours you would be right.

So far we have totaled in the 3 hour range - plus or minus.

In other words we have easily surpassed the quick and easy inspection time table of 2 or more hours.

My next stop is the accessible attic or upper crawlspace areas.

Here I will be looking for evidence of past roof leaks, signs of past condensation, visible evidence of mold growths, as well as checking the condition of insulation, ventilation and framing.

Depending upon the attic accessibility and what conditions I encounter my inspection of this area typically can take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes

Next and finally, in this sample property I will be looking at the living areas, which would include the rooms in general, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the fireplace.

Included would be checking windows and doors for proper operation, testing electrical receptacles (outlets)for safety, looking for signs of past leaks (stains), looking for signs of atypical settlement, making sure stairways are safe to use (including stairs for the basement) and for any damage like ceiling/wall cracks.

All of this, depending upon what I find, can take at minimum another hour.

So now that we check our scorecard we see that in essence this simple 1200 square foot house can take upwards of 4 hours to professionally inspect.

What's the moral of this brief encounter with the truth?

The answer is, No Way!- No How! - Can any property be professionally inspected in an abbreviated time frame. It just can't be done!

At least not professionally and not accurately!

So when you are shopping around for a home inspection and you ask the home inspector how long will the inspection take and the responses is a few hours - then just take less than a few seconds to discontinue the conversation.

Mike Scaduto

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