The question of having a new construction home inspection performed can seem a little weird.
After all, you hired a quality builder to craft your home, the city inspectors already came by and signed off on it.
But one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that the house is perfect just because it’s brand new.
There could be issues that can go unnoticed if you don’t have trained eyes.
That is exactly why new construction home inspections are so important. It makes sure that everything is perfect in your new home.
If it isn’t, you can hold the builder accountable.
In this blog, I will tell you all about home inspection on new construction, like what it is and how it can help you save thousands of dollars.
I will also include a new construction home inspection checklist, which you can use yourself and make sure everything is just right.
So, Let’s get started.
What Is New Construction Home Inspection?
In new construction home inspections (also called new home construction phase inspections), inspectors check the quality and safety of your newly built home before you move in or the builder’s warranty expires.
It is usually done by a professional home inspector, like myself, who evaluates the condition of the home’s major systems, structural integrity, functionality, and appearance of your home.
It helps you identify any defects, errors, or damages that may have occurred during the construction.
This way, you can ask the builder to fix them before closing the deal or within the warranty period.
I know it’s been a long process with lots of paperwork and unexpected expenses. But, it would be a smart call to have an independent inspection performed on the property before your final walk-through.
Why Is It Necessary?
1. Newly built homes are not always perfect
Building a home is a complex process, and sometimes mistakes happen. Even the best builders aren’t perfect.
Sometimes corners are cut to speed up the building process, sometimes incorrect materials are used, and sometimes builders bring in subcontractors who may not complete the work to the builder’s standards.
Let’s say they installed a faulty HVAC system. You wouldn’t know about it until you use it, and by then, it might be too late.
New home construction phase inspections check every detail of your newly built home. Inspectors check the material used, the appliances, and every aspect of your newly built home and make sure you get what you were promised.
2. New construction may not be up to building code
When a new home is built, county building inspectors come and check that it is built up to code. But, they only check if the house meets minimum standards. Home inspectors go over and beyond to conduct in-depth assessments and determine quality and safety standards.
In my experience, I have found problems, like improper insulation in the attic, and it happens significantly more than you would think.
So, on paper, the house is good to go. It won’t collapse or anything, but you may not get what you wanted.
3. It protects you and your investment
I know hiring a home inspector separately is money out of your own pocket. But it is worth every single penny, as it helps you solve issues before they turn into a huge problem.
What would you do in winter if your attic doesn’t have proper insulation?
And you would ideally live in that house your whole life, so it isn’t like you just need to spend one or two winters there.
So, the only thing you could do is get your home proper insulation, and it would obviously be expensive.
And that is just one scenario. There could be problems with other systems as well, like the electrical systems or the foundation.
Yes, it would cost you some extra money. But it would also make sure you get your lovely home in perfect condition and save you from potentially expensive repairs and replacements.
New Construction Home Inspection Checklist
Well, the thing is all, we inspectors are essentially the same and we all look for the exact same things, and while the list is really extensive, I can break down a few points.
When looking at the exterior, I start with concrete.
The thing to remember about concrete is that if it’s gray, it’s hard, and it cracks.
What I am looking for, though, is substantial displacement. If there’s an inch-and-a-half or two-inch displacement in parts of the concrete, the driveway connecting to the garage, the sidewalk pulling away from the front patio, or the patio sloping down away from the foundation.
Drainage downspouts and drains are two other huge areas on the exterior that I check to make sure that those downspouts are taking water away from the foundation.
So, a lot of times, if those tipouts that you have tipped out to be the extension on the downspout.
You can just turn down those tip-outs, or if they have those drainage pads that just the gutters hit, and then it whisks water away.
They’re just wanting to make sure that the water when it rains or anything like that is coming away from the foundation.
Same thing with drainage; I don’t want any of the topography of the home towards the foundation. All of that water should be going away, so the grading should be away from the foundation of the home.
Speaking of foundation, I look at it on the outside and the inside as well.
On the outside, I look for any cracks in the foundation. Is there anything structurally that may be wrong with the home?
A sinking house is a real money pit, and it is best to identify any signs of foundation problems and address them as early as possible.
Now understand this too: not every inspector is an engineer, but they will point this out. So you’re gonna want to consult a structural engineer for this.
I then look to see if the nails and countersunk are too far (that will allow water in behind the siding stucco) and if there are any substantial cracks.
Again, not hairline, but are there really big cracks in the stucco where water is gonna be able to penetrate, get behind there, and could create some issues long-term?
Next comes paint. I check if the paint is faded or cracked or if there’s dry, rot, or water damage.
For windows, inspectors look at windows for chipped or cracked glazing, is a window pane broken altogether, and whether the window needs to be replaced.
A lot of times, you’ll see where windows are foggy, and that is because the seal has been broken and that interior is just now susceptible to water.
So they’re looking for the overall condition of windows because that’s a fairly substantial expense if you were to go to replace those.
In the attic, inspectors get in and inspect the roof for any broken shingles or tiles and look for proper ventilation if the roof vents effectively.
We check to make sure that all of the bathroom vents that are vented to the attic can get that air out.
I am looking to see if the insulation is effective, if the insulation is displaced, it has blown around. In this case, it needs to be spread back out.
In the end, I am looking for signs of water intrusion on the roof decking, which means I have to look at the plumbing.
To make sure there are no leaks under sinks, I run a cycle in the dishwasher, turn the sinks on, turn the showers on, and look for any noticeable leaks on the surface, whether that be in the p-traps below the sinks or otherwise.
At electrical, inspectors check if the house follows the code, if the GFCI used is sufficient for the home, does this switch works or not, and if not, why this switch doesn’t work.
To look at these surface area electricals, inspectors go outside to the electrical panel and the garage or wherever your electrical panel may be, and they’re going to take a look.
In the panel, they check:
- Is this panel overloaded
- Is there still space in it
- Is everything effectively distributed throughout the house
It makes sure that you don’t have a major problem down the road.
In mechanicals, the age of your furnace and your air conditioner is very important. Those are pretty substantial expenses when you move into a home.
Inspectors look at the age of the water heater and let you know what the average lifespan is on those and about what the life expectancy of those particular components is and what they have left in them.
Typically, when it comes to fireplaces, inspectors don’t look at them too terribly closely. They simply check things like:
- Is the glass on gas fireplaces
- Is the glass cloudy? Should that be clean
- Take a quick look at the flue
They typically look at small things like that.
Also, they are probably going to recommend some sort of service or cleaning.
A little insider tip:
When it comes to new home construction inspection in general, one thing that you can just bank on is an HVAC service that needs to be completed every single year.
So, if your home hasn’t had an HVAC service completed within the last year, you can expect that the inspector is going to recommend that; the same goes for your fireplace.
One other thing to keep in mind. Home inspectors are not going to fix the issue. They are going to make the recommendations, and you have to go out and have that professional (certified electrician, plumber, etc.) look at that particular issue.
When To Schedule Home Inspection For New Construction?
Well, the best time to schedule new home construction phase inspections is when the builder doesn’t want you to get one.
Jokes aside, new build inspections take place at any time during the construction process.
But the three most common, which I recommend, are going to be pre-drywall, pre-walk-through, and warranty checks.
Pre-drywall inspections take place during the building process before the finishings go in.
The structural elements are all in place, the roof is on, and plumbing and wiring are installed but still exposed. This gives the inspector the opportunity to see the exposed systems and verify they were installed correctly.
These systems will soon be hidden from view, so resolving any issues at this stage will be much cheaper than waiting until they become a big problem that requires demolition to fix.
Pre-walk-through inspections occur closer to the closing date when the home is almost completely finished. Minor jobs may still be incomplete, such as tile work or painting, but all the major systems are in place.
These inspections take place after the city inspector has signed off on the property. They’re there to verify that the house was built to municipal code and is safe to occupy.
Pre-walk-through inspections are meant to give you a checklist of what still needs to be addressed before you sign the final paperwork. It includes things like incorrectly installed appliances, moisture issues, or structural concerns.
It should be scheduled as close to the closing date as possible but not so close that it may interfere with the closing.
11-Month/1-Year Warranty Inspection
As I mentioned in my previous blog on 11 month inspection, our industry figures show that, in most cases, homeowners face issues during the first year.
Warranty check inspection happens after you’ve moved into the home, usually 11 months or a year after closing.
This inspection takes place about a month or so before the expiration of your home warranty.
It’s to catch any issues that may have popped up in the first year. These issues may still be the builder’s responsibility.
So, think of it as your last chance to have everything addressed before the home becomes your complete responsibility.
How Much Does Home Inspections on New Construction Cost?
Well, it depends on house to house. There are many factors that inspectors consider to finalize the cost of the inspection, like the size and the location of your home.
But, for an average home, you can expect to pay around $300-$500 to get it successfully inspected.
To know about it in detail, you can read my other blog on how much is a home inspection in Florida.
Getting a home inspection on new construction is one of the best decisions you can make to protect your investment and, more importantly, your home.
Although it serves many purposes, the key benefit you get from it is that you get exactly what you paid for. Basically, it ensures that you don’t get ripped off.
You make sure that the builder does not cut any corners, like using cheap materials, that the home is constructed following the building plans, that it complies with building and safety codes, etc.
And it does not even cost that much, especially if you consider all the benefits you get from it.