I am looking for any tips on inspecting new construction. Is there anything special I need to look for outside of a regular home inspection?
Yes, in a pre-existing home there are a lot of things that the homeowner is not required to upgrade to current standards. The only requirement is that they must “disclose”. They’re not even required to repair anything.
New construction “everything should be perfect” (but never is). It’s the only house you can expect to be perfect.
Before the certificate of occupancy or after ?
I imagine it would be after the certificate of occupancy, though I’m sure you could be doing some before. And if it was before the Cert. do you just list the any findings as not completed yet and unable to inspect fully?
I have inspected several brand new homes. I could tell you lots of stories. Filled up a tub, and drained it. Heard water splashing into the basement, and plugged the tub back up. Went into the basement, some plumber forgot to attach the p-trap to the drain. Dead electrical outlets, no attic insulation (builder forgot), etc. etc.
Get a copy of the IRC, plow through this code prep and you’ll know more than most builders.
“Perfect” is subjective.
Know that when you get there they will be happy to see you?!?!
I’m always amazed at how well some things are done and how consistently poorly others are. Top plates seamed in wrong places, bolts or hold downs missing/poorly placed, NM just smashed into framing by staples, **anything related to moisture intrusion… **grading, lath/paper/flashing(s) all sorts of fun stuff.
Did a few of those recently… fun, seriously I had a great time with them. If I did nothing except commercial and new construction, I wouldn’t get too bored
Actually, with all the “love shacks” out there right now, they are ugly, but never boring!
My point is that a new house is the only house that you could expect to be perfect. It takes a year to make it perfect (thus the one-year builder warranty). Home inspection does not ensure perfection as only “significant issues” are addressed. If there is a paint blemish, this is the only home where the client has a reasonable expectation to have it fixed.
I always make sure to have my Client get me written permission granting me access to be on site and to perform an inspection. As the Builder usually still owns the property, sometimes their managers/contractors/salespeople don’t let home inspectors perform the inspections.
This is one type of inspection where IMO, you really should be well versed in the current code in your area.
The link works fine for me. Here’s the same post.
My point? Simply that your definition of “perfect” and my definition of “perfect” and another person’s definition of “perfect” can all vary when talking about construction.
An example: Would you expect a builder to replace/adjust a window sill that was 1/8 inch out of level? It’s not “perfect” until it’s “perfectly” level right?
“Reasonable” is the key word that you used above. “Perfect” and “reasonable” are very different.
Even though it “should” be perfect, I do not inspected it as if it should be…
I am, but why?
We are not code enforcement officials.
I report things that are not code as well as those that are in new construction. Just because there isn’t a code, does not mean there shouldn’t be. The builder understands code so using th cold helps him out…
In new construction inspections, there are basically three types of defects you find:
- Workmanship issues (cabinet doors not attached, excessive gaps in wood floor planks, cosmetic problems, etc.)
- Items not functioning as intended (furnace not operating, plumbing not connected, etc.)
- Building defects (lack of safety glass, inadequate insulation, insulation not installed around all habitable areas, floor joists undersized, lacking lateral bracing on trusses, etc.)
For #3, to call out a building defect as a defect, having a building code to back you up will stop most disagreements and “discussions”. It also gives you more credibility if a disagreement arises. If you call something out as a defect and the Builder quotes the building code that makes the problem acceptable, it questions your professionalism, credibility, and makes your client doubt you.
You are supposedly an expert. By performing new construction inspections, your client is relying on you to tell them what kind of condition the house is in, what problems exist, and what problems they may encounter down the road. You should also be knowledgeable about any state new construction warranty program; what the program covers, what the definition of a warranty defect is, when the warranties expire, etc.
A home inspector is really a consultant. You are providing your expertise to your client so they can make an informed decision about the house they are considering purchasing. So my recommendation to any home inspector who is planning on or is performing new construction inspections is to be well-versed in your local building codes.
I am a NJ state licensed building code official. I don’t advertise that fact anywhere, but it helps back up my reports if I need to.
P.S. I know many builders who don’t know what the code says.
Yep. This is a big misconception in Washington. Washington state builders are NOT required to give a one-year materials and workmanship warranty. However, good luck to a builder wanting to gain referrals while not providing a warranty.
Very true. Many builders simply sub out EVERYTHING. Being a builder doesn’t require knowledge in code.
Yes I agree. You must be the above, but it is not our job to enforce them!
I agree…I’ve had a bad encounter performing a progress inspection with a few contractors. Like Arook said…Be sure all parties involved know there will be a home inspector coming to that house and what he is coming to do. This could result in one less headache in the long run.
That clause should be in every PIA, no matter the age of the home.
Don’t get distracted by cosmetic issues. Most buyer’s will worry you to death about paint blemishes and cabinet scratches. I tell my clients they really don’t need to pay someone hundreds of dollars to point out cosmetic blemishes to the builder…they can do that themselves and I advise them to make a list or use painters tape.
There’s a fine line between cosmetics and workmanship issues in my opinion. You’ll have to establish that for yourself and it will come with time.
A few specific tips: Test every door, every cabinet door, every window, every outlet. Test the tilt functionality of windows. Look for improper nails on joist hangers. Look hard for broken trusses. Check foundations for proper anchorage. Check attic stairs for screws instead of nails. Check for thermal expansion control on water heaters. Look for wood and hardiplank trim in contact with roofs. Look for weep screeds on stucco and cultured stone. Test the water pressure…often very high. Stair railing is often not continuous. Stair lighting is often sub-standard.
However, I also get written permission from the Builder allowing me on site. Clients won’t care what’s in the PIA, if the home inspector is not allowed to conduct the inspection because of a builders representative.