Home inspections were once a rarity on a residential construction site, they are increasingly common. Today some inspectors, such as Pacific Crest Inspections have a specialty inspecting newly constructed homes as well as pre-owned homes. Most buyers once they realize that a qualified inspector can save them money and hours of frustration, they will want:

Formwork, plumbing, reinforcement,  moisture barrier and any other material to be embedded in the concrete is inspected while visible. A courtesy check is carried out to ensure that the elevation of the finish floor is adequate to prevent a future grading or drainage problem. Future grading or drainage problems can be host to many future major defects, such as moisture intrusion damage and increased WDO risk.

Some other elements inspected include:

  1. Ensuring internal load bearing footers are provided and properly located.
  2. Visible plumbing and drainage lines are properly laid and protected.
  3. Vapor barrier properly installed and sealed at all joints and openings.
  4. Proper placement and tying of concrete reinforcement bars.
  5. Proper reinforcement of formwork ensuring square and plumb.
  6. Trenches for footers properly cut out and clear.
  7. Ensuring no visible debris or foreign material within the pour area.

Having the design drawing during this inspection is essential otherwise some elements of the inspection will be more difficult to determine, resulting on the inspector drawing on his experience only.

Inspection of the building shell before the application of finishes, enables us examine in detail the structure of the property. The entire house is inspected on a room by room basis. All trusses are checked for damage and proper installation

Other elements inspected include framework, support beams, electrical and plumbing fixtures and roof venting to mention a few.

Where deficiencies are noted, such as poor construction details, recommendations for upgrading are made.

Common deficiencies include missing or unsecured earthquake straps/bolts, missing sheer walls, improperly nailed wall sheathing or siding, missing flashings, inadequately secured or altered trusses, improper framework, missing beams, undersized or overspan beams or roof members, improperly installed sheathing, inadequately sealed windows, missing roof vents pinched electrical wires due to framework railing.

Our final inspection is carried out prior to your final walkthrough with the builder when all fixtures and finishes are in place and electricity and water is on. All systems are checked, including structure, exterior, roof, floors, ceilings, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, appliances etc. We approach this inspection with the assumption that nothing is working until we can prove it. We look at everything and look for workmanship issues.

Examples of deficiencies include missing roof insulation, inadequately sealed window and stucco details, poorly installed vinyl soffits, fascias and eave drip, air conditioning duct leakage, poorly installed stucco/siding, poor yard drainage, uncut roof vent openings, improper circuit breaker protection, mismatched circuit breakers and improperly wired switches/receptacles to mention a few.

While prevention is best cure, experience tells us that many major construction defects go unnoticed for 3-5 years.

By this time, the defects could cost many thousands of dollars to remedy instead of a few hundred. It is unfortunate that most of these defects go unnoticed by the untrained eye until it is too late and damage has occurred. Many new homeowners are amazed with our findings but unfortunately if they are trying to sell their home, will have to foot the repair bill.

Assisting in preventing this risk and the possibility of future costly repairs is the goal of our “11 Month Warranty Inspection”. Our inspection covers over 400 items and includes testing of all systems and components. All visible defects will be noted including but not limited to manufacturer and/or contractors flaws, not visible to the untrained eye… until it’s to late. This “last chance” inspection, is essential in providing you with the peace of mind you deserve.

Buyers working with a custom home builder who is willing to make changes should bring an inspector on board when the house is still in its early stages and there’s an opportunity to look at the foundation, electrical and plumbing rough-ins as well as the framing. Some buyers will wait until the latter stages of construction to seek an inspection however this could be a mistake as the drywall can cover many issues that would not manifest themselves until later in the home life.

wrong hanger

Wrong Hanger

The foundation needs to be strong and plumb. Our foundation inspection will insure this. Once the house begins to go up, we recommend the home be inspected at the pre-drywall stage and just prior to final walk-through.  The “pre-drywall” visit, should be done after the framing is up, the windows are in and the electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems have been installed but are still exposed. The exterior grading should also be checked at this time because a builder will be a lot more willing to fix it before any sod or landscaping have been planted. The final walk-through should be schedule just before the final walk-through. Attempting to do the inspection sooner and the home will be in such a stage of change, that its effectiveness will be limited. Typically in the last days prior to turning the home over to the new owners, the builder will be scrambling to complete all the small details.

In the course of checking the construction, our inspectors may pick up building code infractions that a building official may miss, especially since we allocate between 2 and 4 hours for the inspection versus a city inspector who frequently perform as many as 30 inspections in a single day. However, we do not inspect for code compliance, that is the cities responsibility. If we do see a code issue  we will alert the buyers to them and perhaps even call the building department to get clarification on the issue.  You can see a sample of what we find in new home inspections

Buyers should also note that getting the inspector there at the right time for each inspection is their responsibility, not the builder’s. They need to monitor the progress of the house so they can tell the inspector when to come and take a look — nothing is more disheartening than to find that the drywall has already been installed before the inspector had a chance to inspect them.

On that final walk-through before signing the papers and taking possession of their brand new house, observant buyers will

cut truss

Cut Truss

catch paint drips, scratches on a hardwood floor and misaligned switch plates. Thorough buyers will know to check all the doors to make sure that they open and close tightly. Very thorough buyers will check all the windows to see if they open easily and have their screens. But only an experienced home inspector with years of experience under his belt would know to look under the crawl space vapor- a favorite place to stash scrap lumber — or take note of shortcuts that can compromise the structure or the owner’s comfort — missing air seals, cut trusses or missing roof vents.

An experienced realtor and our home inspectors can also help buyers in negotiating repairs with the builder. A code violation must be fixed, but in many cases the issues that an inspector finds are workmanship issues that a builder may or may not agree to address.

Centex, and US Homes, two of the largest home building firms in the US, and many other builders welcome a home inspector as another set of eyes that gives a buyer a peace of mind. But many  builders specific do not want home inspectors onsite, so buyers should discuss it before they sign a sales contract and include the details in a contract addendum.

5 Most Common Issues in New Home Construction:

  • The absence of proper flashing between deck and main structure. For roofs, we have not been seeing proper counterflashing for chimneys. Valleys also require flashing.
  • H clips missing at roof sheathing joints. Neglecting to use this hardware results in sagging of the sheathing between rafters and/or trusses.
  • Poor Drainage and downspout extensions to into the ground without a proper drywell. Many builders run the extensions 5 feet from the home and bury them. This will work for a short period of time but debris will quickly plug the line and then you will have to dig up landscaping and create a working system
  • Receptacles having reverse hots and grounds or simply no grounds.
  • Ceiling and joist spans greater than 10 feet require blocking. Blocking helps prevent rolling or twisting of structural members.