When it comes to construction, “new” doesn’t mean “perfect.”
Here’s why new home inspections are just as important as buyer’s inspections.
The home buying process can be strenuous. Not only do you need to find a house that ticks off all your boxes, you need to weed out the ones that require expensive repairs.
It’s no surprise, then, that a large number of families opt for a new construction home. Not only do you get to design your home from the ground up, it’ll be perfectly pristine when you move in.
We hate to break it to you, but the reality of new construction doesn’t always live up to the expectation.
In our experience, new homes aren’t exempt from the same problems and pitfalls as older, existing homes. In fact, new home inspections, or progressive inspections, are a critical step towards getting the most out of your investment.
What Is a Progressive Home Inspection?
Progressive or new home inspections are not a one-time event, but rather a series of inspections designed to check the condition of a building at certain times during the construction process.
A progressive home inspection has three main stages:
Inspectors examine the land before the foundation is installed. Getting a look at the property before it is covered with concrete offers a glimpse at features that may never again be visible: the home’s electrical grounding or bonding; concrete reinforcement and the depth and size of footing; plumbing and drains; wall support strapping and bolts; and the moisture barrier.
Once the foundation is in, an inspector will revisit the home before drywall is installed. This allows him/her to see structural characteristics and safety factors, such as proper fire blocking and service runs.
Once the structure is complete, a home inspector will perform what is often called a delivery inspection. This is essentially a full-home inspection of the finished product. The delivery inspection is usually scheduled one to two days before the home buyer walks the site with the builder prior to closing.
Why Are New Home Inspections Necessary?
Modern homes are a far cry from the log cabins our great-great-grandparents used to live in. As a result of those updated building codes, a lot can go wrong during the home building process.
As you can imagine, any mistakes made during a home’s construction will only get worse (and become harder and more expensive to fix) as time goes on. New home inspections are often the only chance an inspector gets to look beyond the surface into the actual bones of the house so any potential problems can be fixed before they become the home buyer’s responsibility.
Inspecting the home only after it has been finished isn’t enough to catch any issues that might have slipped through the cracks. A progressive home inspection by a master home inspector acts as an extra pair of eyes to ensure that your new home was built right…right from the start.
A typical full home inspection is a bit of a misnomer, as there are limits to what a home inspector can examine once a house is completed.
During a buyer’s inspection, your home inspector will not tear down drywall, punch through ceilings, or tear up the floor to make sure the structure beneath is in good condition. (Would anyone want to buy a home in that condition?)
A progressive home inspection is the ONLY time they can get a peek “behind the scenes.”
New Home Construction Issues: More Common Than You Think
I’m sure that many of you are thinking, “But I’m not using a fly-by-night contractor. My builders are big…they’ve been around for years! That won’t happen to me.”
We hate to break it to you, but experience and good marketing don’t mean that your builder is infallible. In fact, in all the years we’ve been inspecting homes, we’ve never filed a “perfect” inspection report.
Nope, not even for new construction.
Some of the more common violations we discover during new home inspections aren’t merely cosmetic, but violations that affect the home’s functionality. For example, if the builder didn’t put a cooling system register (the grill in your ceiling or floor that lets air-conditioned air into the room) in your state-of-the-art media room, that’s not just a code violation, it will cause that room to get extremely hot. (Especially with all those electronics!)
Your home inspector’s job is to point this type of thing out to the builder so they fix it before you move in.
Many of our clients are surprised to find out that the builder they hired to construct their 3,000-sq.-ft. dream home isn’t actually the one swinging the hammer.
Most builders hire subcontractors to complete the job, and those contracts are renegotiated every 60-90 days. It’s not uncommon to have a string of different laborers actually doing the work of pouring concrete, framing walls, hanging drywall, and painting trim.
The quality of your home is only as good as the people who are building it. And when demand for construction workers exceeds the supply, there’s no telling what type of workers will be responsible for your home.
What If the Home Fails Inspection?
As we mentioned above, we’ve never seen a home—even a brand-new home—without a single blemish or flaw. Some of these flaws are fairly minor, but there are some that no home buyer would want to inherit!
What happens if your new home fails inspection?
Although it is typically buyers who order new home inspections, we actually do our job before the home changes hands. All of our inspection stages are performed before you accompany the builder on the final walk-through of your home-to-be, which in turn takes place before closing.
Because the builder is still the owner of the property at this point, any issues, problems, mistakes, or flaws listed on the inspection report are their responsibility. Further, they will have to pay for any fixes out of their own pocket.
Identifying deficiencies and notifying the builder puts the responsibility and weight of repair (prior to closing!) clearly on them…which is where it should be. You want to move into a home that’s squared away from Day One.
Don’t Buy ANY Home Without an Inspection!
Whether buying or building, the moral of the story is: Don’t buy a home—any home—without an inspection!
As exciting as it is to pick out floor plans and granite counters, don’t let the cosmetics distract you from the real structure of the house. With a new home inspection, you’ll get a look at each stage of the home-building process to make sure the home is fully functional and properly constructed right from the beginning.
This is the only way to be sure that your home will be truly “move-in ready” and stand the test of time.
If you’re looking for a company to handle all of your inspection needs, EDC Professional Home Inspections can help. With our on-time arrivals and thorough, easy-to-read inspection reports, we will work with your builder to ensure that your new home is up to our exacting standards.
Does your insurance company require specific inspections? We can do that as well, and will then contact your agent to ensure all requirements are met.
If you are in need of a progressive home inspection and the peace of mind it brings, call us today at (407) 417-2999.
This article was originally published in January 2018 and updated in April 2020.