What’s The Point Of Getting A New Home Inspected?
It’s a brand new house, never been lived in, new roof, new appliances, new water heater etc. Why would you want to get a home inspection done on a new house? The peace of mind it allows a home buyer is well worth the few hundred dollars it costs to have your new home inspected at the very least. It’s true you should expect everything to be working as it is supposed to and the home to be move in ready but it’s often the case that the issues that crop up in a home inspection are not always in plain view. It’s rare that a buyer ever regrets getting a home inspected new or resale. They may regret what the inspection finds but they won’t regret learning what problems they were spared from dealing with had they purchased the house.
New Home Inspection
I always encourage my clients when buying a new construction home to have a home inspection done and if possible a pre-drywall inspection done as well. Working with a reputable builder large or small is the first step in being satisfied with your new home. It is important to do your homework about the builder and get some references from recent home buyers. Check them out online and read the reviews people put up, (some reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt though). It is important to note that as a house nears completion there may be items that the builder is aware of and is waiting to complete everything at one time. Building a new house happens in waves of lots of activity followed by times when it seems nothing is being done followed by a flurry of activity an so on. There are some items most builders leave to the very last minute, like gutters and installing screens which always concerns buyers. It often is the case that the home inspection is done before the home is completely finished so when a home inspector finds a list of minor things in a new house that need correcting it should not be cause for alarm.
Builders Should Be Open To You Having The Home Inspected
Most of today’s home builders use subcontractors to actually build the home while a building supervisor if it’s a larger company oversees everything. If you’re using a smaller local builder they might be in charge themselves. Regardless of the size of the builder they should welcome the fact that you are having a home inspection and be open to what the inspector has to say. If they feel an item is unwarranted they should explain why and back it up with the relevant paperwork. Every once in awhile you run across a builder who’s ego can’t take the fact that someone would want to inspect their work! The price of the home you are buying should not decide whether you get a home inspection on a new home. Typically the more expensive a house is and the more custom detail work that is involved, the less likely it is there will be problems. However we are all human and prone to mistakes so having a second set of eyes look over the most important purchase of most peoples lives seems reasonable.
Think About How Many People Are Involved In Building A New House
When you think about all the different trades and stages of building a home it’s not surprising that something could get missed, it may be minor and you’d never know about it or it could turn into a big problem down the road. Many of the subcontractors working on a house today work for larger companies that may have two teams on the road or twenty teams working around the area. HVAC, electrical, and plumbing companies are trades you’ll often see on multiple building sites throughout the week. It’s possible that one crew may start a job and another finish it which could lead to problems.
Home buyers often make the mistake that because the building inspector from the local municipality makes regular inspections and signs off on the house with a C.O. that the house has been thoroughly vetted which is not the case. The county or city inspector’s job is to make sure the home is built to that city or county’s codes and requirements.
Just as they would in an older home a home inspector will go through each of the main components of the home and make sure they are working properly and installed correctly. These include the heating and air conditioner unit, water heater and plumbing fixtures, electrical and power systems. They will inspect the roof, attic space, crawl or basement area, they will check the appliances are working properly and will make sure any new codes that may have been overlooked are in use. The one similarity between what a home inspector reports on a new house and a resale is their opinion of what is working and what is not. As long as the item in question is performing as it is supposed to regardless of how old it is that is all it has to do. With a resale say for example a 20 year old house with the original HVAC unit which is working normally an inspector might say such but add that the unit is coming to the end of it’s expected life and may need replacing in the future.
What Might You Find In A New Home Inspection
So what might a home inspector find in a new home that they may not necessarily find in an older home or something that would only apply to a new home. It is rare but occasionally an inspector will find major problems with a new house, so much so that it may make the buyers back out of the deal. Hopefully the items the inspector will find are minor in nature and the builder will be able to remedy them quickly. Here are some of the things you might encounter when having a home inspection on a new home.
- Missing Caulking/Sealant
- Refrigerator On GFCI Circuit
- Required Outlets Not On GFCI Circuit
- Garage Door Not Aligned/Adjusted
- Minor Plumbing Leaks/Loose Fittings
- Doors or Windows Sticking
- Roof Nails Exposed
- Weather Stripping Missing
Most of the items above are minor in nature and easy to remedy, however if the conditions are such that they become worse and they were not corrected it is possible they could cause a lot of damage. If an inspector finds more serious problems such as structural they may advise bringing in a professional in that field. If it’s a new house not everyone would be willing to go that far and would sooner terminate the contract if possible. Some more serious items that may be found in a new home inspection might be…
- Structural or Foundation Issues
- Incorrectly Sized Water Heater (think teenagers!)
- Septic Issues
- Drainage or Water Issues
- Survey/Zoning Issues
What If There Are Water Issues With Your New House
Water issues that do crop up in new construction may be fairly easy to resolve or may require a bit of work and that’s if you spot them. If possible take a look at the house you are buying just after it has rained and see if there is standing water near the foundations. It may be that the builder has not completed the final grade but make sure they are aware of your concerns. In fact it’s a good idea to walk through the house while it’s raining or shortly after to notice any leaks. Not always possible admittedly but should you discover a leak shortly after moving in, the builder or roofer should be out immediately to remedy it.
Also keep in mind that your new house will settle over time and nail pops and cracks may appear in the wall. This is normal for new homes and most builders will return before your one year anniversary and repair those items. Find out from the builder what their schedule is for doing cosmetic touch ups and how often. They should also provide you with a list of people to call should you have a problem with the house in the first year. They should explain what is covered and what is not and each builder will have their own system for handling calls and repairs. Some are very open to any and all requests with a full time concierge type person who handles calls for the first year. Others may only offer a one time return visit to repair any cosmetic issues.
A separate but equally important option for buyers of new homes is to have a survey completed. A survey used to be required by a mortgage company and may still be for some but most do not require one. Unless you have a survey done after the house is completed you can’t say with certainty that the house is exactly where it should be, what easements are on the property and exactly where the property corners are. A very worthwhile expense if you can afford it, helpful if you are planning on getting a fence or making additions.
A typical home inspection costs anywhere from $350-$500 for a 1600-3000 square foot single family home. There may be additional charges for larger homes or outside structures, pools or a Radon test. If you are able to have a pre-drywall inspection done it may cost $150-$200 more depending on where you live and the size of the home. Be proactive about letting the builders agent know about any inspections you plan on having and have your real estate agent coordinate them with the builder and inspector. Hopefully you are using a reputable local Realtor© and not using the builders agent and they will be able to guide you through the process and make recommendations for both builders and home inspectors.