The other day, I had a newer agent email asking if her buyer clients, purchasing a new home, needs to spend money on a home inspection? In her mind, a new home would be inspected by a county building inspector as apart of the permit process so an additional inspection would be a waste of money. The Builder backed up these assertions as well, touting their diligence process and a warranty that extends for a year after closing.
Actually, new construction homes should undergo MORE inspections than a resale home purchase: a pre-drywall inspection and one prior to closing. If you’re buying a new home that is already mostly complete, then you’re only able to complete an inspection prior to close. But why aren’t the county building permit inspectors enough?
While I could spend the next 1,000 words recounting my experiences (don’t worry I didn’t) with new construction (a few hundred new homes sold including my personal residence about 15 years ago), why not show you what I mean. If you search on Facebook the hashtag #IThoughtItWasNew, you will find posts from home buyers and home inspectors recounting what they’ve uncovered in new properties as of late.
Local Home Inspector Brian Wetzel of HouseMaster Home Inspections posted this beauty a few weeks back. This house was close to being completed when, during a routine inspection of the attic, Brian found a number of broken trusses. The truss supports the roof so, as you might imagine, having broken trusses isn’t a good thing.
Sometimes the error is a little easier to spot, like the builder forgetting to call the insulation installer back after the drywall was installed.
Sometimes the issues are a little less obvious. While all new construction homes have a termite treatment at the time of construction, sometimes the treatment doesn’t work or, with all of the soil movement, it is rendered ineffective. That was likely the case of the home below, which had evidence of termites on a foundation column.
I asked Brian if these issues were becoming more common. “It’s a numbers game. Look at all of the new construction going up and then count the number of county or local city inspectors and tell me if it’s even possible for the code officer to do a 3 hour home inspection like we do? They are not able to keep up with the demand of new builds and it’s not their job description to be as detailed as a home inspector is.”
My advice to new home buyers is along the lines of Brian’s sentiment. A new home never equals a perfect home. At the end of the day, with the rising cost of materials and land, a home is only as good as the subcontractors that showed up to work that particular day. That can result in less skilled labor or overtaxed labor struggling to meet demands and deadlines, which has consequences.
Quality home builders have no problem with home inspections. Typically, they view a licensed home inspector as an additional step in the QA process. After all, it’s a lot easier and less expensive to address a leaky toilet when its first uncovered instead of after the leak has ruined the floors, rotted the subfloor, and created a mold issue in the crawl space. Yeah – leaky toilets are a thing too.
Or maybe it’s the time someone didn’t connect the vent stack. The pipe to the right is from the roof and the one on the right is from the plumbing in the house. Left unintended, water would drain into the house from the roof and none of the sinks would drain properly.
Have a new construction horror story? Share it in the comment section below.