5 Reasons Why You Need a Home Inspection on a Newly Constructed Home
Buying a new home is an exciting experience. Buyers have the chance to personalize their dream home – picking out customized counter tops, lighting fixtures, paint colors and floor coverings. However, before you start imagining where the furniture will go and planning your first gathering in the home for family and friends, don’t overlook having a home inspection on your newly constructed home.
You need a professional looking out for you.
It is recommended to have a home inspection on a new home during several phases of construction when different components of the construction process are more visible. Subsequently, if the house is complete or nearing completion when you decide to buy, it is still important to gain the unbiased, third-party evaluation of a home inspector. The walk-through with the builder or “their inspector” is not enough. An inspector whom you choose and hire will be looking out for YOUR best interest as the buyer, not the builder.
Here are 5 reasons why you need a home inspection on a newly constructed home:
1. New homes are not perfect!
Have you ever purchased a brand new car or technology that you had to take back in or have repaired due to a defect? Consequently, the same scenario can be true for new houses.
Your new house was built as a system of interdependent parts, similar to the engine of an automobile. Every part has an impact on the operation of many other parts. A typical home has more than 10,000 parts! When you consider all of the subcontractors who had a hand in the home’s construction (electricians, plumbers, roofers, etc.), you may begin to see the complexity involved in building a new home. Certainly, “brand new” does not equal flawless.
We’ve seen the following examples of new construction inspection findings (just to name a few):
Raised roof shingles (potentially allowing water intrusion underneath the shingles)
Missing siding or siding that had been installed incorrectly
Malfunctioning or improperly wired receptacles (a possible fire hazard)
Vents/ducting systems not correctly attached or routed
The absence of proper flashing in various areas (roofs, chimneys, etc.) which may result in water penetration into the home.
Poor drainage and downspout extensions into the ground without a proper dry well. Some builders will bury the drainage lines. This will work for a short period of time. However, debris will eventually plug the line; you will have to dig up landscaping to create a working system.
Correct issues BEFORE you move in!
If deficiencies such as these are identified during a home inspection, it allows the builder to repair/correct these issues BEFORE you move-in. Most importantly, safety items need to be addressed immediately to protect you and your family. While there will likely be some minor touch-ups that will take place after you move in, you will want the builder to fix any significant repairs right away.
2. Municipal building inspectors/inspections are NOT the same as home inspectors/inspections.
Cities and counties adopt building codes to keep people safe and to keep their jurisdictions appealing places to live. Building codes set the minimum standards for construction and renovation of buildings. Therefore, building to local building codes is simply complying with local minimum standards; it does not guarantee that “best practices” are used in constructing the house.
Code enforcement inspectors make sure building codes are obeyed on behalf of the government agency for whom they work. On the other hand, a home inspector is an independent, third-party entity working for the home buyer. In many states (including Texas), home inspectors must obtain a state-issued license to perform inspections. As a licensed inspector, their inspections must meet all requirements of the Standards of Practice as delineated by the issuing agency.
While the scope of a standard home inspection does not specifically include code compliance (that falls under the municipality’s responsibility), if a home inspector identifies a code issue, they WILL alert the buyers.
Municipal inspectors are very busy!
It is also worth noting that most home inspectors will allocate between 4 and 8+ hours for the on-site inspection and written report for a single home. In comparison, a municipal inspector may perform as many as 30 inspections in a single day.
3. The builder’s inspector works for the builder, NOT YOU.
Some builders hire their own, third party inspection company to escort new home owners around the home and look for issues. Inspectors that the builders provide are paid for by the builder and, as a result, can’t possibly be impartial. An inspector hired by the buyers are working in the buyer’s best interest.
Many of the largest national home building firms as well as local builders will welcome a home inspector as another set of eyes that helps to give buyers peace of mind. Beware any builder who does not want home inspectors on site! Buyers should make a point to discuss their wish to have their own home inspection before signing a sales contract, and include the details of the resulting agreement in a contract addendum.
4. Contractor standards and requirements vary regionally.
This next section is not meant to come across as a slight or a “dig” at home builders. There are some truly excellent custom home builders out there who have spent decades honing their knowledge and skills. That said, not all profiles of contractors are required by state law to be licensed. In Texas, house builders, handymen, and carpenters don’t need to be licensed, for example.
Some of the common types of contractors who need licenses include:
Well drilling specialists
Pump installation specialists
Refrigeration and fire systems specialists
Landscapers and interior designers
With differing licensing standards for the home builder, and with so many contractors and/or subcontractors involved in building separate parts of the home, a home inspector can offer a cohesive, unbiased evaluation of the construction’s current condition.
5. A home inspection matters at resale.
Most likely, the last thing a home buyer is considering as their home is being built is the possibility of selling at some point in the future! However, when you decide to sell your (formerly) new home, the next buyer will likely get a home inspection. Deficiencies that date back to the original construction will be discovered…even if you never knew they existed. At this point, it will be too late to get the builder involved. To clarify, you now own those problems.
The bottom line…
In conclusion, a new construction home inspection should give you the benefit of a third party looking at the house. You will likely gain insights into the houses’ attributes and vulnerabilities; all houses have both. An independent home inspection can add value by evaluating the overall quality and design of the building, and it will give you a good idea of maintenance items to keep your eyes out for.