There are a lot of articles by realtors and content creators that will give you all kinds of answers to this question. Everyone's expectation seems to be different. I had a seller who was shocked that I took a full three hours to inspect their home. Another seller was shocked that it took me only three hours to inspect their home. So, does that mean it takes three hours to inspect a house? No, not necessarily. Ultimately, the answer is that the inspection takes as long as it takes. That isn't a helpful answer, but it is the right one. I have finished 6,000 square foot houses in two hours, and taken over three hours for houses less than 1,000 square feet. There are several factors that impact how long an inspection will take. Here are some of those factors: 1. The condition of the home. Has the house been taken care of? The number of problems I have to photograph and document directly impacts the length of time it takes me to inspect. While I have ways of streamlining inspections on rough homes, it still takes time to get good photos and write up the issues.
2. The size of the home. All things being equal, it is just going to take longer to do a bigger house. If there is more than one HVAC system for the home, you're adding a lot more time than if it just has an extra bedroom.
3. The layout of the home. A huge ranch style house with one massive attic is going to go a lot faster than a split-level with multiple attics. (Also, where is the GFCI reset for the bathrooms? If it is in the basement bathroom and I have to run up and down stairs, I'm going to appreciate the cardio but it will take more time.)
4. The number and kinds of questions that my client has. I always encourage questions. That is why people hire me, after all. I want to make sure I get every question answered to the best of my ability in the limited time that we have. If the client has lots of questions, I will take my time to answer them all. That just means we're going to be at the house longer. Any inspector worth hiring is going to do the same.
5. How I'm feeling. Honestly, if it is 90+ degrees outside with high humidity, I'm just going to be moving slower. And that's okay, because most inspectors do not charge by the hour. None of us want to waste your time at the house by plodding along. We will always give the same quality inspection report, but sometimes it just takes a few more minutes.
To recap: the inspection might take a long time, or it might take a little bit of time. The only way to know for certain how long a given inspection is going to take is to check the time after it is done. Most inspections will fall somewhere between 2-3 hours, but they may take much less time or, occasionally, much more. Ask your inspector what their anticipated timeframe is, but be aware that surprises may come up. The house might be better or worse than expected; you might have more or fewer questions than you thought you would; or maybe the weather is just terrible and your inspector is going to need a lot of water breaks. The most important thing is not how long the inspection takes, but how thorough your inspector is.