Most buyers of new construction homes mistakenly think they don’t need an inspection on their new house. As consumers we’d like to think that because we’re buying (or building) something new, that this home will be perfect without any defects. Unfortunately, this is not true, especially in the new construction market. Many home builders are building homes at a fast past, and things get missed. In the photo below the stone on this new construction home looks nice, but it was poorly installed. It is missing the proper flashing at the top and caulking joint on the sides.
The truth is, a new home buyer can benefit immensely from using a professional home inspection during the construction and upon completion of their home prior to the final walkthrough with their builder.
While a new home phase inspection is the most beneficial (pre-insulation; pre-drywall and final), homebuyers will also benefit from an inspection before final walkthrough. Some consumers assume that the builder or subcontractors are overseen by state or local government officials and that the local city building inspector will cover everything a private home inspection covers. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s the difference?
The local building inspector is looking for code violations, not installation methods or practices; and they’re not performing a quality control evaluation. When you hire your own independent home inspector, you’ll know they’re working outside of the influence of the home builder and will be working for your own best interest.
Quality control programs in new construction vary greatly in the field, as does the experience project managers have. Many project managers have multiple new homes they’re managing, so the amount of time they have to thoroughly look over their homes can be limited as well. Most homeowners encounter problems after the first year or two not knowing these problems are often related to construction error. So homeowners find one-year warranty inspections to be extremely helpful as well. The photo below shows something we found on a one-year warranty inspection. Frost all over the electrical receptacles! The homeowner was appreciative of our inspection.
We can always give you some references of people who have built new homes and chosen NOT to have an inspection by a private home inspector and then later wish they would have due to problems that would have been found. We can also give you references of people who chose to have an inspection on their new home construction and the problems we found saved them significant money/problems prior to moving in.
What are the most common new construction defects?
- Improper grading of the soil around the house
- Flashing missing from masonry veneer
- Improperly installed and adjusted safety equipment on garage door openers
- Damaged or leaking appliances
- Loose electrical receptacles
- Damaged or improperly installed roofing systems and shingles
- Disconnected HVAC duct work, especially in attics
What’s Involved in a Phase Inspection?
- Compliance with engineered drawings if provided
- Plumbing systems reviewed
- Duct work should not be encumbered by other building materials
- Roof structure is supported and sloped
- Outlets spaced properly
- Proper gauge wiring is installed
- All connections in junction boxes
- Electrical systems are properly grounded
In the end, spending an additional $300-400 on average to have an independent home inspector who works for you is far worth the headaches and surprises you may encounter down the road.