5 Myths About New Construction

New Homes under Construction

As an Experienced Certified Home Inspector, I see the good and bad of the Industry. This industry is just like many others out there today, it exist to make money. There is nothing wrong with that, until the industry starts to short change the consumer in favor of the dollar. Quality Measures don’t get practiced until it starts interfering with the bottom line. For the price consumers pay for a new home today, the lack of quality in many of today’s home is horrendous. Our Hall of Shame has some of the examples of what we see.

With the Baby Boomers moving up to the Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom, San Juan and Island Counties, subdivisions have been busting at the seams with the new home construction. Builders are hard pressed for sub-contractors, subs are short on skilled workers. Un-skilled day laborers are hired to fill the ranks of sub-contracting companies so that builders can get these homes built and closed on!

There are some really good homes built in the area. You can not solely pick your building company on name alone for the simple fact that it is usually the site superintendent and the sub-contractors who build a home and not the office staff back at your builders office! Below are some myths I hear all the time about building companies. It’s time to set some things straight!

Myth #1: You can’t go wrong with a National builder!

Fact: News shows like “48 Hours”, “60 Minutes” and “Dateline” have segments every year about nationally known builders involved in class action lawsuits over cutting corners (sometimes literally) and other poor building practices. Hiring a well known builder is not a guarantee against anything! You must research the builder in the exact neighborhood you are going to build. Go to the other home owners and ask them how well a job the builder did. If they were smart and hired an independent, Experienced Certified Home Inspector prior to purchase ask to see the report! Always be on your guard! Do your research! Don’t think it can’t happen to you!

Myth #2: I’m having a new home built so I won’t run into problems with it down the road.

Fact: Just because your buying or building a new home does not mean you won’t have problems with it. I hear from people all the time that have had or are having major problems with their new homes. With the scores and scores of unskilled laborers and the work load of the site superintendents, many things can and do go wrong on the work site. We can manufacture many items on an assembly line with unskilled workers putting the nuts and bolts in hole A and slot B and tightening. That process has not worked and never will work with onsite construction of home. It takes attention to detail and true craftsmanship to build a home that will last for the ages.

Myth #3: My home was built in the city limits so it had city inspectors inspecting it as it was built.

Fact: That’s one of the biggest myths out there. The building inspectors in kept busy with all the remodels and new construction going up. Many do 15 to 22 inspections in a day to keep up with demand and not slow the builders down. Now with workloads like that, about the maximum amount of time a city inspector can be in a home is 15 to 20 minutes. I’ve seen more than a few homes get approved without a building inspector ever going in the house. Most of the larger builders know this and take advantage of it.

Myth #4: My builder said I was being too picky about wanting some items fixed in my home. Am I being too picky?

Fact: I hear this one quite often also. Just how picky does your money allow you to be? While it is true no home is perfect, you wouldn’t go out and pay full price for a new car that had dings and scratches in the paint with an engine that knocked and the radiator located where the gas tank should be would you? It’s your home. They are supposed to be hiring professional craftsmen to do the work (but we know they aren’t don’t we). True craftsmen will make very few mistakes while building your home. Un-skilled day laborers will make many obvious mistakes that anyone can find. You can bet that many of the defects and flaws that your seeing don’t exist in the building company’s owners house or any of the managements homes. So why should they be allowed in yours? Whether your spending $70,000 or $700,000 to have a home built, you deserve the very best workmanship on your home. It’s your money, demand quality!

Myth #5: My builder said I didn’t need an independent home inspection because I had a 1 year warranty and that if anything was going to go wrong, it would happen inside a year.

Fact: I have never and will never inspect a newly constructed home that I didn’t find something wrong where the builder needed to fix or repair multiple items. They always miss something. There are just two many components on a house to make sure they are all okay! Now can you imagine what a pain and inconvenience it would be to have a work crew to come back into your house to fix minor defects and flaws within a year? Now imagine what would happen if you had a major repair to be made! It’s as simple as this, most builders know your not going to have an inspection on your new home before the warranty runs out, so, they’ll be off the hook unless something major goes wrong, and that is what they bet against! It’s a lot easier on you to have major and minor items fixed, repaired or replaced during construction than after you have lived there a year.

Now I could go on and on with example after example, but I hope your finally seeing how this industry works. Take a look at our Hall of Shame to see what we find. If the builder has to pull the drywall sub-contractors off of a job down the road to come back to your house, he’s losing money. Now the other house is going to get behind and he runs the risk of that house not closing on time. If he can talk you out of fixing all that drywall damage, then he is money ahead. I hope your beginning to realize how this industry operates. You need to insure some amount of quality control in your home and your not likely to get it from someone who stands to lose money by having extra work performed!

I’ve heard just about every excuse there is for not hiring a Professional Inspector. The fact remains that if you will hire an experienced and qualified home inspector before you even pour your foundation, you will go a long way in making sure your dream home doesn’t end up a nightmare! Look at it this way, for less than the price of 2 top of the line Moen faucets, you can have a professional to watch out for your interest and make sure things are done right during the construction on your home.

If just a portion of the people that are involved in class action lawsuits would have hired a Experienced, Certified Home Inspector, before they had closed, they probably would have been warned before hand, Enabling them to shop for a better home. How many of these people do you think will hire a Certified Home Inspector next time?

Remember this also, if you live in a rural area, you don’t even have the slim amount of protection that someone inside the city limits does! There are no local government inspectors inspecting your home! In Washington, you do not have to pass any test or qualifications to be a Home Builder. There is an industry joke that goes something like this “All you have to do in Washington to be a Builder is to have a ladder and a pickup truck”. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen that joke become a reality!