New Construction Inspection Really Needed?
Home buyers of newly constructed homes may not be aware they may have an inspection clause included with their new home contract. Fact is, a new homebuyer can greatly benefit from using a professional home inspector during the construction and completion of their new home.
The picture to the right was taken at a new house. This is the chimney flue pipe which was left uncompleted and the top of the chimney enclosure was sealed. If this defect was not found a serious or deadly situation would likely have occurred.
Many people ask; “Why does a newly constructed home need an inspection?” “Isn’t a newly constructed home perfect and safe?” Some people assume that the builder and contractors are overseen by state or local government officials and that the local town or city building inspector checks the house out. This is true to some degree, however, few if any municipal inspectors spend anywhere near enough time in the home to fully check it out. Further, there could be problems with the home that are not necessarily code violations, yet have serious consequences for the new home owner. Ask any private home inspector about the deficiencies and safety issues discovered in newly constructed homes.
The photo to the left shows a plumber’s “craftsmanship.” In the process of soldering the water pipe, the plumber melted a hole in the PVC drain line and fused the water pipe to it.
If the buyer of a newly constructed home takes advantage of the inspection clause, the first line of defense is the exterior wall and roof frame inspection followed by the open wall or pre-drywall / pre-insulation inspection which would be followed by the final walk through inspection. Be aware that some builders have prevented private home inspectors from inspecting newly built houses. If you are in the process of buying a new home and the builder does not allow you to bring a private home inspector on site, this poses a couple of questions; “Why won’t the builder allow the home inspector on site?” What does the builder have to hide? At this point you should be thinking hard about proceeding with the purchase and you should also be consulting with your attorney.
The photo to the right shows a roof rafter cut / damaged by a carpenter so that the attic door could swing open, one of the roof stud supports was also cut off.
If a home buyer has missed the opportunity to have an inspection during the construction phase and final walk through, there may be time to come in afterwards. Most new builders offer a warranty period for the new homeowner, however, there are usually many items not covered by the warranty as well as limitations on those that are.
Even if the contractor you choose for building your house is known for quality work, the one following fact should motivate every new homebuyer to have a home inspection clause written into their contract to purchase.
FACT: The majority of construction tasks (foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, etc.) are usually subcontracted out to the lowest bidder, with speed, not quality being an important consideration for the builder. With many separate activities going on at the same time, it’s nearly impossible for the builder / contractor to personally monitor all phases of the home construction.
The two photos below are different corners of the same GA house, a steel re-bar was used to check the foundation depth. Building Code requires that footings (in GA) be a minimum of 12″ below grade with 8″ above grade. That’s a total of 20″, this slab was 8″ thick at its thickest point. This house was inspected when NEW…(about 18 months ago.) Slab has since cracked severely across garage and at rear corner of kitchen.