But It's Brand New! Why Do I Need it Inspected?
I think the general consensus seems to be that all buyers should have a full home inspection.
But lately, I have heard that many builders (and even some agents - gasp!) have suggested to their clients that the "Builder's Warranty" is good enough and an inspection is overkill (or a waste of money). As the kids say....SMH.
Now, I will grant you that I am a bit biased, BUT.... There are SOOOOO many reasons why an inspection is critical, even for new construction.
All Builders are not Created Equal - Materials and methods used to build your home matter - and they can wary a lot. Some builders (Pulte comes to mind) like to use finger jointed lumber comprised of scrap lumber fitted and pressed together to make studs. They also are the only local builder I know of that frames any walls with studs spaced further than 16 inches on center (this is allowed in certain walls). They say they are being environmentally conscious and saving lumber. I find that most clients would prefer they start saving lumber with the house AFTER theirs.
In another community, Ryan Homes simply refused to install the basement egress windows early enough in the process, and the basements filled with mud, 3 feet of standing water and blew out the sump pumps 3 times. Guess which homes had mold concerns on the basement framing and insulation? Not surprisingly, we used almost a whole roll of blue tape at the cosmetic inspection on this home, as well (90 day closings often = Rush Job).
Another builder (Lennar) had such a poor project manager that they couldn't even get their subcontractors to return his calls, let alone show up for work or complete my client's home on time. This is an important lesson: the quality of the Project Manager (PM) makes a GIGANTIC difference in the quality of your home. A builder may have a great reputation, but a bad PM means a poor quality job, even for a good builder.
Then there are the smaller builders. Don't even get me started. Many of these builders are over-leveraged and short-cut to save money at every chance. "No, don't worry, we will put in all those appliances right before closing." There is NO acceptable reason for there to be ANY part of your home that is not present, operable and 100% complete for your inspection.
Builder's Warranties are NOT created equal - Some warranties I have reviewed for clients cover so little it's laughable. One smaller builder did not even cover cosmetic issues like nail pops, and refused to adjust the mixing valve on the shower faucets (told the buyers to do it themselves....corporate policy!) Another builder refused to cover drainage concerns until the buyer's finished basement had 2 feet of water in it and lawyers became involved. For smaller builders - if they are bankrupt or out of business in 3 years, does their 7 or 10 year foundation warranty really mean anything?
Many warranties specifically EXCLUDE mold or radon - Read the Warranties carefully. Mold found on studs in a pre-drywall inspection (we find a lot of this) can be easily
remedied and is typically remedied by builders once it is pointed out. But once it becomes enclosed behind drywall, it can continue to grow unchecked and the warranty may not cover it. Many builders also refuse any responsibility for radon mitigation, while some provide free system installation or a credit (up to $500) for system installation. (Incidentally, builders who install a "radon system" that consists of just a PVC pipe that penetrates neither the slab nor the roof, are not doing you any favors. Most mitigation companies will not use these pipes as they do not want to take on the liability of penetrating your roof.)
What you don't know CAN hurt you - We have found fire hazards, code violations, structural faults, electrical hazards, improperly connected systems, and safety violations even after local code inspections had "passed" the home. (side note: a "temporary Certificate of Occupancy" is NOT a Certificate of Occupancy...but that's a topic for another blog). While some of these were relatively small concerns and easily remedied, some were potentially dangerous problems.
New construction inspections require an inspector who is experienced in construction methods and materials, and should be performed in several stages (I like to do a foundation inspection, a pre-drywall inspection, a pre-closing inspection, and a follow-up inspection.) Most people only think to get a pre-closing inspection, but there is a lot to be gained from having a seasoned pro review your foundation, structure, framing, and rough ins. In fact, I think the pre-drywall inspection is the most beneficial stage to my client (this is when we can evaluate the framing and structure and catch bigger problems and short cuts). Follow the link to read more about what we do, and why a new construction inspection by Precision Home Inspection carries more weight than your typical inspector.
Hopefully, it is clear that the builder's first loyalty is to his wallet. So, make sure you get a team of experienced professionals (a good Realtor and Home Inspector) in your corner. It's your home, and you have the right to demand excellence.
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