How Long?

There was an interesting point brought up in the Easy Girl post, concerning how long it takes for a typical inspection. Ok, There is no such thing on a typical inspection. My question is this. It usually takes me about 4 hours on a 1500 sq ft ish home, with a basement and garage. I try to write up every nick and scratch, as that’s what my forms are asking for, then take the client through (if they weren’t present). Quick example being that my forms ask if the siding has any cracks. One recent subject had all new vinyl siding, and there was one crack near the porch light about 6 inches long. I explained that I had to write it up, because what if a wandering wasp found this to be the perfect home, moved in, and had a family? Aunt Millie comes by with a house warming gift of her rotten tasting brownies(secret recipe, don’t even ask for it), and begins beating on the back door because the door bell is inoperative. -Yes, that was in the report-. This annoys our family of wasps to the point that they come out and begin to defend their new home from Aunt Millies’ onslaught. Aunt Millie, being allergic to wasp stings, kicks the bucket on your back steps, taking the brownie recipe to the afterlife with her…
Yes, I actually told him that story. Anyway, Seller agents look pretty annoyed with this much time, so far the buyer agents don’t seem to mind, and the clients seem to be happy that I’m being so thorough. I’ve only done about a dozen inspections, and assume I’ll get faster with experience. How long would it take for you experienced guys on a similar house, say built in the late 60’s, in decent shape? Do you think I’m doing the right thing by putting EVERYTHING in the report, then explaining the significance of it to the client? Thanks for the opinions! Den

  • I try to write up every nick and scratch, as that’s what my forms are asking for,*

I guess we have a different approach, Den; Here’s what I have as a preface regarding the interior of the house. Of course, I do make note of actual holes, cracks, damage, etc, but not to the extent that you appear to do.
It seems like you are stepping outside the safety net provided by

NOTE: Floors, walls, and ceilings are observed for visible structural conditions only. The inspection and this report do not represent conditions of finishes such as finish flooring, wall finishes, ceiling finishes, and condition of moldings & other trim.

We’ve taken 3-4 hours to do a 1600 s.f. single family, but it’s usually old AND in very bad condition, and, we really liked the Client and spent an unusual amount of time briefing-them.

You’ll easily trim an hour off your hypothetical inspection before very long, as you get more comfortable with the process, and assuming you’re mastering your report writing software or methodology.

Bear in-mind Russell’s advice, Den, regarding SOP compliance. If you decide to continue to exceed whatever Standard you’re inspecting-to by leaps and bounds, you may find-out before long that…

1.) You won’t be very popular with many Realtors at all…unless they already know about your SOP excess(es) and…they’re actually buying a home for THEMSELVES!

2.) Three or four hours seemed reasonable to do a thorough job for your clients, but how come you’re not getting paid for that thoroughness? Your competitors (the competent ones) are doing the same home in roughly two hours, and charging $319.00. You’re also getting $319.00, maybe even $329.00 or $339.00, but they’ve been home, had dinner, and watched the first quarter or half of the Lions/Packers game before you’ve pulled-in your driveway and put your gear back on-charge.

3.) Assuming you can build a revenue- (and profit) -producing inspection business base without or virtually without Realtors, you would presumably be busy-enough that the 4 hours would preclude you from scheduling as many inspections as you’d like. If you got two inspections in a day, you’d surely be at 10+ hours with travel and prep time accounted-for. Taking a third inspection (if you wanted-to) would yield a 15 (or so) hour day. That may or may not suit your business and life style goals.

Don’t misunderstand me…even with more inspections under your belt, you still may find that your chosen protocol simply takes longer. That’s probably o.k., too, but a small home in generally very good condition can be done in less time, competently and thoroughly, by one who is inspecting-to or perhaps…just slightly above the more common SOP’s (NACHI, ASHI, etc.)

Out of curiousity, what reporting program or method (“that’s what my forms are asking-for”) are you currently-using?

I am not there to write up every conceivable find. I am there to find the big stuff. The big stuff is what nixes deals not nickle dime stuff.

It takes me less than 3 hours, to do a 2000 sq. ft house. I don’t see how anyone could spend 4 or longer hours in a house inspecting and then justify it by trying to find every concern and putting in the report?

Good Question:
I’ll admit I take a little longer than during my inspections because I believe, as the old saying goes, that “if you get the small things right, the big things will take care of themselves.”

Also, people want to know that you earned the $350.00 to $400.00 they are paying you. If you are in and out in 40 minutes, EVEN if you are a good inspector, they feel like they have been ripped off.

So besides looking for big issues such as the cracked heat exchanger and the leaky roof etc…
Personally, also I try to look for things in the home that will really piss my clients off, things that they will use every day while in the home and if they are not “right”, my clients will remember me forever with disdain.

Small but aggravating stuff such as:
-doors in the home that close on their own because they were installed out of plumb. (**When missed, a safe reply to client is : “Bummer, sucks that you have ghosts”… **"AND… it says very clearly in our agreement that I do not inspect for "paranormal stuff"

-the window that won’t stay open with out a prop.
When missed, a safe reply to client is: "You know, a lot of people never really open their windows!"

-the missing lock for the master bedroom door (where little Johnny walked in one too many times on mama and Dada having fun.) Safe reply: "in some cultures its common for the kids sleep in the parents bed, AND… I don’t inspect for "Cultural compliance stuff"

or a moderate but important safety issue: such as the one exterior ungrounded non gfci outlet (of coarse), on the home that when operated decides to give father the shock of his life time.
(safe reply to client: "Grounding is really overrated, besides codes aren’t retroactive and I think they didn’t even require electrical grounding until last year’s updated Plumbing code rules came out!..?"

Seriously, I really believe that if you miss too many items that we consider to be Minor fixes, that alone will piss your clients off more than a air conditioning compressor that dies 1 month after they move in.
Because the a/c unit gets fixed once and it will be ok for years. The small stuff noted above is used/operated every day by the client. Mark my words, you may not hear about the small stuff, but they will HATE you for missing it.

and of coarse, you can’t miss the big stuff either:

  • Like the old 2nd floor balcony that is attached to the home with one really strong nail. Of coarse it collapses at the first house warming party after the “lawyer” in the family takes one step on to it.
    **Safe question to ask client: “Do you know why we fall in life?.. So we can learn to get back up!” :neutral: :frowning: **

  • Like the loose staircase hand rail that snaps as grandma (who weighs 400 pounds) is walking down the stairs, breaking her hip (her good hip). This occurs after touring the home for the 1st time (during the house warming party). Unfortunately, grandma later falls into an ireverseable emotional coma due to the complications of the hip injury.
    Safe reply to client: "You know, Jenny Craig is right down the street from your new home. You should sign her butt up!"

All joking aside, Like i said, you get the small things right, and the big things will take care of themselves. :slight_smile:

However, one might have to define “nickle dime stuff.”

I had a relo Client from Boston who found me and their Realtor on the Internet. Never been to see the house. I think it was a $799,000 house with a 360° view of the world. Only problem was that because of the view, there were no screen windows. One screen window might be nickel and dime, and for a $799,000 house, even 30 screen windows might be nickel and dime. Now a good Realtor would offer to buy 30 screen windows at a cost of $25 apiece, and, indeed, this one did. However, sometimes there are other issues, as well.

In this case, the couple were moving as far away from Boston as possible in the lower 48 due to bad memories. Their young son had fallen out of the third story window of their brownstone and died. Everyone blamed them for not having screen windows on their brownstone. Whether right or wrong, the emotions and memories were too much for them to bear. Six weeks later, the Realtor and I got together for an inspection on another home, exact model, three blocks down, with screen windows.

And, sometimes, if there are enough nickel and dime stuff, they can add up to big bucks, not to mention the time that one might have to take off from work in order to meet several different service providers at the home to get something taken care of. And if one already took all one’s time off during the house search, meeting with Realtors and lenders, etc., those nickel and dime stuff just might be enough to kill the deal.

Find as much as possible, document it, and let your Clients decide how they want to deal with it. Or do like I did and create different levels of service for your home inspections, price them accordingly, and then market them. People do appreciate choices. Here’s my inspections:


STANDARD, PREMIUM, and TECH would note all that small stuff. LIST and BASIC do not. WALK doesn’t even have a written report, just verbal.

Gotta agree with all of that.

You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. Personally, I take my time to do a thorough inspection and note everything I see. Now, that doesn’t mean that I have a comment for every ding in the report.

But definitely be sure to adequete describe and comment on major systems and problems. It’s not unusal to miss a hairline crack in the stucco exterior, but dont’ make a mountain out of a molehill.

Realtors are sensitive to time spend inspecting a house. Too little time tells them that you didn’t do a thorough job; too long in the house tells them that you’re too picky. What they believe doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your inspection. It’s the perception. Did I get my moneys worth?

Be professional and consistent with your inspections.

Yes, yes you did.

Thats strange my questionaires I get back tell a different story as to quality of work and time spent in the premises.

I guess it depends on your clientele.

In an effort to spped up my inspections, I have created an Excel spreadsheet that is coded to plug in the information throughout the report. I simply fill out the first page that is a condensed version of the report. (very long first page… round 275-300 lines)
I have enen incorporated drop down menus and auto fill of check boxes when info is entered…
I only take a printed coy of the condensed first page , which amounts to 4-5 pages, to the inspection. I pencil in the needed answers as I go . Upon returning to my office I transfer the info to the spreadsheet, and it plugs it into the report. (saves me a good hour)
I then hand type a summary page for the report.
I even have the reprot coded to plug the buyers name in on each page “This report prepared for: John Doe”
After proofing the report I use a handy lil tool that I have installed to convert the report to a .pdf file for emailing… And store it on my computer aswelll as backup disc.
Sometimes I even take the laptop to the inspection and save the paper, but find it a lil ackward to manuever at times…
I can usually get through a 1500 sq ft home in 2 1/2 hours…If the client is present, which I do prefer, I can spend another 1/2 hour reviewing my finds. Then I can add another hour for filling out the report…

Thanks for the input! I’m currently using Matrix forms. It’s a binder report that I leave with the customer. I email them my pics if they have an email address, or shoot them to their realtor if they prefer. I write everything I find up, but have a real world conversation with the client afterwards. I insist on not being part of the negotiating process. That is up to the client and his/her agent. I am their to answer questions of course…Thanks again! den

Hate is such a strong word. :slight_smile:

I just finnished an inspection on an 1400 sq. ft. 10 year old home. Was there for an hour and one half. I don’t understand how anyone could prolong the inspection to 3 or four hours.

Easily done if only checking the required minimum “representative sample”:mrgreen:

I, up front, explain to my clients that I don’t do ‘cosmetic’ items. What do I mean.

  1. Slight nicks, paint drips, tape irregularities or really messed up paint schemes (I ahd a client, the wife in a 4.2 Mil house, who didn’t attend the inspection, complain, “How could you possibly allow an olive green accent wall with the other walls being beige?”. If you allow any cosmetic critique, you open youself up for all kinds of grief. Besides, my wife says I have no taste.

  2. In new construction, I advise that the client not finish the basement for at least 3 years. This gives the house time to settle and let any foundation wall crack appear, seep and be injected, before someone has to rip out drywall to fix the crack. We all know that drywall is cheap (relatively) and easy to repair, but to a layman client, opeing up the walls is a MAJOR violation. I also explain that they can expect nail (screw) pops, cracks at wall and wall/ceiling intersections and diagonal cracks at window and door corners as part of the normal settling process. I explain that they will probably want to re-paint in 2-3 years, so have these minor issues fixed at that time.

  3. If you document every little thing, they will look deeper, for every little thing and they are sure to find them. When they do (remember, they were not there when you did the inspection) they will come looking for you to pay for them. A good inspeector must not only do a good and thorough inspection but must also manage the client, and their expectations.

Hope this helps;

There are alternatives that you can recommend for those that desire immediate results…


Thats essentially my philosphy.