A recent comment by me on Facebook prompted an acquaintance to ask me to justify how I determine the average amount of time spent on an inspection.
I calculated that I spend roughly nine hours per home inspection. I know that not all inspectors may sit down to figure this number out, but you should if you wish to price your inspections properly. The nine hour figure seemed high to a person at a party I was attending last night. I mentioned that it was actually down from the over ten hours that it was last year. The inspectors that I know who do think about this topic generally come up with a similar number. Here are factors to consider when thinking about how much time is spent on the job:
Time at the home- my average is close to three and a quarter hours. This includes inspections of condos to homes.
Pre-inspection prep work- average is around an hour and a half. This includes printing forms needed to perform the inspection. Preparing a package for the home buyer. This package also includes having to do research on a few sites about the home. Some of this research is to prepare me for the inspection.
Post inspection work- organizing my notes, writing my report, and sending out emails takes two hours on average.
Reinspections/time spent explaining findings- some inspectors charge for reinspections. I decided since I often do not meet my clients that it might be better to plan on meeting them at one point. Emails and phone communications are also part of the equation. Add discussions with buyer’s or seller’s agents, and possibly the mortgage personnel. This averages to around two hours.
Education to improve service- in Texas we are required to have 16 hours of continuing education. However, we spend time learning about changes to the codes in the state, as well as studying building science and construction techniques on a frequent basis. I spend around ten hours a week on average reading books, periodicals, websites, and research papers. This would add significant hours per inspection, so I picked a number that helps me determine the cost of this education in terms of time (arbitrary, I know, but I felt this may be more reasonable.I took cost divided by $60/hour which is pretty typical for a contractor to come up with the number of hours needed to pay for the education) Average is a half hour.
I did not include time spent going to and from inspection sites. To help with factors like the cost of office supplies, gas, car maintenance, insurance, and so on would also be calculated per inspection to determine price. I feel that I arrive at a more accurate calculation of cost when considering cost of gas rather than time spent traveling to and from a job. I also have to consider marketing: time spent and cost, but again, this is not really time spent on a specific job.
This brings my average time on an inspection to approximately nine and a quarter hours. Why did it go down from last year? Partly increased inspections bringing the average down, and partly improved performance on the inspection. There are a few other factors, but those two cover most of the time savings. I hope this gives you a little insight into what goes into an inspection report.