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:
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.
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
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.