When going through the process of buying a new construction home, one might assume that you don’t need to go through the process of a home inspection. After all, you had the house built from scratch and customized to your exact needs what could be wrong? So one would think that getting a home inspection would not be a waste of time but also money.
Even though the home is newly constructed you might want to have a home inspection done so you can be provided with some valuable insights into the property’s construction, as well as the chance to prevent any costly repairs on the home later on down the line. You will want to keep in mind that new houses aren’t always without flaws. For others, a new home inspection may seem like just an extra cost in an already very expensive time.
What Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a third-party evaluation of a home’s structure, systems, appliances, and other important features. An inspector will evaluate your property, give you a report on all his or her findings, and you can then go to the seller (in this case the builder) to fix any desired issues before you close on the home.
In a nutshell, inspections can help ensure you’re getting a safe and hazard-free property, that you’re making a good investment, and that you won’t have tons of repairs to make before move-in (or worse, right after it).
Home inspections are typically an optional things, however most homeowners still get them and they are often recommended by real estate agents.
Common Issues Found in New Homes
Even though it would seem that new homes should be relatively error-free, according to many inspectors, they often still have underlying issues at work. Here are some common issues found during new construction home inspections include:
- Structural defects, like foundation cracks, improper grading, and poor framing
- Drainage and grading issues, which could cause water and structural damage later on
- Window leaks
- HVAC issues, including malfunctioning thermostats and loose connections
- Electrical problems, such as improperly wired outlets, open grounds, and missing switch plates
- Plumbing issues, including reversed hot/cold in faucets, improper piping, leaks, and more
Inspectors will often find incomplete projects. This might include insufficient insulation, half-installed handrails or fixtures, or missing pieces of hardware.
How Many Inspections Do You Need?
When it comes to a new construction home, it would be wise to have two or three inspections on the property.
The first inspection is known as a foundation or “pre-pour” inspection and it occurs just before the foundation is poured on the home. This inspection will ensure that the site has been excavated and graded properly, that anchors and footing are adequately spaced and in place, and that the stage is set for a strong and long-lasting home. In the event the inspector finds issues on this go-around, it allows the builder to make adjustments before pouring the foundation (when there’s generally no going back).
The second inspection is what you might consider as the framing or “pre-drywall/sheetrock” inspection. This one happens after the entire frame has been built, the roof is on and the windows are installed, but before the sheetrock and walls are put up. It allows the inspector to make sure the beams, posts, studs, and other structural components are installed properly, as well as check things like the wiring, plumbing, window flashing, and other elements that are generally hidden behind the wall. If any problems crop up, your builder can repair them after the inspection before going further with the project.
The third and final inspection is pretty much the same one that you would have on any resale property. This one ensures that the home is safe for occupancy and has been finished per local code and building standards. Anything your inspector finds on this inspection should be remedied by your builder before closing.
What New Home Inspectors Look At
Home inspectors look at a wide variety of features in each stage of their inspections. They will also take into account local building code, which varies by municipality. Though this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the items most inspectors will examine when evaluating a newly built home:
- Drain, waste, and vent lines
- Water lines
- Plumbing and piping
- Trenches and soil
- Elevation, drainage, and grading
- Beams, bearings, and other framing items
- Nails, screws, studs, and plates
- Fire blocking and draft stopping
- Leaks, water intrusion and mold risks
- Plumbing and wiring
- HVAC and ducting
- Roof, chimney, and gutters
- Doors and windows
- Exterior items, like walkways, driveways, sheds, decks, patios, and garages
- Foundation, basements, and crawlspaces
- HVAC systems, including the thermostat
- Plumbing, toilets, sinks, and sump pumps
- Electrical conductors, circuit breakers, meters, and panelboards
- Attic, insulation, and ventilation
- Appliances, such as dishwashers, disposals, ovens, microwaves, and sprinkler systems
New home buyers can certainly skip the home inspection stage, as can any other homebuyer. The risk in this is that unknown issues with the home could crop up after move-in, when it’s too late for the builder to fix it (and pay for it).
If you do skip a home inspection on your new property, make sure your builder has a warranty in place. This can protect you in the event something goes wrong after you’ve closed. These warranties usually last from one to ten years, depending on the type of workmanship or materials issue.3