Do I need a home inspection for new construction?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

We think so. New homes have different defects than older homes. We evaluate a home that was built years ago primarily for any deterioration of its components, like the roof or air conditioning system. The focus of the inspection is to make sure that everything is still in adequate condition and functional.

   But the problems we find in new homes are different, and relate to two factors: 

  1. The home has never been lived in. Nothing has been actually tested.
  2. Because most homes today are built almost entirely by subcontractors, with the “builder” primarily acting as a coordinator of all the subs, the areas where one subcontractor’s work has to align or follow up on another one can be get messed up.

   So, some of the defects we find are plumbing drains that never got connected or are clogged with construction debris, missing base plates on appliances, wall dings from clumsy workmen, attic hatches that have been covered over with blown insulation by the insulation contractor (always a big surprise for the first person that opens the hatch), windows that are over-shimmed and the compressed frame makes opening them difficult, and little items like a couple of cabinet pulls that just got forgotten in the push to finish the project.

   It’s true that your new home will have already been inspected several times by the local building department for code compliance, but there are a number of things they do not check, such as: 

  • Shoddy workmanship: poorly hung doors, badly mitered corner of trim,  and loose faucets, for example. Sloppy work is not a building code issue.
  • Building inspectors only do a “walk through” of the home. They don’t climb up on the roof or crawl in the attic. Home inspectors get up into these areas, and routinely find problems overlooked by a municipal inspector.
  • Inspectors from the local building department do not actually test major appliances like the air conditioning system. They only do a visual inspection for proper installation.

   While the builder will assure you that any defects you find after you have moved in will be fixed promptly, it’s always better to get those headaches out of the way first. Bypassing the inspection may leave you with problems you only find after the warranty has expired. We provide you with a “punch list” of repair items to give your builder before closing.

    Also, see our blog post How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?

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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

How thorough is a home inspector required to be when inspecting a house?

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

If we already looked at the house very carefully, do we still need a home inspection?

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1940s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure? 

What should I look for when buying a former rental house?  

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

What do I need to know about a condo inspection?

What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

   Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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