Common Defects List by Age of House

Does anyone out there have a list of common defects which can be reasonably identified by the age of the house? There was a chart published a few years ago which listed all the common defects on a residence - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and so on. Anyone with any info, please respond.

I’ve never seen such a list but would sure be interested in reading it. Hope it shows up here.

Hi to all,

ditto, I had thought about putting together a timeline of defect by age, I’ll take a stab at it shortly.



Gerry - you are the best - it’s great working with you - maybe if you post it here, we can all have a go at filling in the blanks. I like to market it as a tool to help our new inspectors.

Can you help? why can’t I open a pdf file like the 1 you have here?

Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

**Common Defects in New Home Construction

**A List of Common Defects in New Homes
Experienced by Homeowners

**Prepared by
Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
March 2004

*Members of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings and homeowners contributed
to this report.

Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Common Defects in New Home Construction
A List of Common Defects in New Homes
Experienced by Homeowners
Table of Contents:





















Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Purpose of this List

This compilation of common defects in new homes was created from input by
homeowners, research of news articles, and review of complaints from various agencies.
This list should be used to help identify possible causes of these common defects and to
encourage better building policies. It is disturbing that after decades of building homes;
the home building industry continues to condone the underlining causes of these common
defects. It would seem that after this much time the root cause of these problems would
have been addressed and the defects prevented.
Many defects are caused by underlying problems, for instance, a crack in the tile could be
a symptom of a much more serious problem, caused by foundation movement and
possibly incorrect installation of the tile. And many defects happen outside of the
warranty timeframe. Again, cracked tile is a good example. Most of the popular
warranties only cover cracked tile if it was noticed PRIOR to move in, yet a foundation
can settle over a period of years causing the cracks to appear.
This document attempts to identify the different defects commonly reported by
homeowners HADD has been in contact with. Because of the complexity of homes and
contracts this list should not be considered a litmus test for defects. This document does
not attempt to document every defect known to the builders, but instead identifies the
common defects that have been reported to HADD and via the media.
This report references new home warranties with the Homebuyers Warranty (HBW) or 2-
10 warranty being used as an example. The HBW is very similar to other common
warranties. The reader is urged to read “New Home Warranties. Protection or
Deception?” available for free download at

**Limited Warranties and Inadequate Performance Standards

In 1989 Texas passed the Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA pronounced
wreck-la) as the first right to repair law in the country. RCLA at the time was touted as
the panacea to a “rush to the court house” and new home construction defects. Since then
many states are now passing their form of RCLA using Texas as a shining example of
good legislation.
Unfortunately, while states are passing their own RCLA’s, Texas in 2003 has passed yet
another shining example of good legislation, the Texas Residential Construction
Commission (TRCC) because of the complete failure of the original shining example,
The overwhelming influence of the building industry has now created a Commission that
will create performance standards and warranty standards. This is now being touted as the
new model of legislation by the building industry. It is feared that the extremely limited
new home warranties such as the HBW or the Residential Warranty Corporation warranty
will be adopted as a standard for the state. Many of the defects identified in this
document are not covered by these warranties or any performance standards such as the
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

standards created by the National Association of Homebuilders. It is hoped that the
Commission will research the common defects in new home construction and create
standards to prevent the defects instead of relying upon and adopting the extremely
limited new home warranties such as the HBW. Since this legislation is being touted as
model legislation, other states in the country should be aware of it’s decisions in the near

**Contractual Obligations

The following is a brief description of common contractual problems with homebuilders.
These issues can halt the construction of a home, indefinitely delay the closing, or delay
the resolution of a defect. There are no industry standards to address these types of

**Builder does not follow up on walkthrough items. **After the walkthrough
homeowners expect the walkthrough items to be repaired in a timely manner.
Many times the builder will dispute the defects noted on the list and will refuse to
repair. It becomes much harder to have the defects addressed once the
homeowners has accepted the home.
ß **Builder is not building home to specifications. **Many times the home is not
being built to the agreed upon specifications resulting in a halt in the work.
ß **Builder will not refund earnest money or down payment. **If the builder does
not resolve defects or contractual problems prior to closing, the homeowners will
back out of the home and they expect to receive their down payment back. Many
times builders will not provide the payment or will provide a reduced payment.
ß **Builder will not honor warranty. **This is a common problem. The builder just
refuses to honor the warranty.
ß **Builder will not live to advertisements. **As an example, a builder in Houston,
TX advertised guaranteed electricity bills based upon their energy efficiency
homes. When the bills were excessive, the builder did not honor the guarantee.
The homeowners are now in a very long process of trying to resolve the problem.
ß Builder(s) abandons the subdivision without finishing promised amenities.

Promised golf courses, and other amenities are not completed.

**Non-disclosure of known defects. **Defects in model homes with known
problems, or homes that were refused by a homebuyer due to defects, were not
disclosed to the subsequent buyer.
ß **Inspections not performed. **Inspections by officials or by the builders were not
completed or verified resulting in homes with code violations or not built to
industry standards.
ß **Home not completed by closing, outstanding defects. **Homebuyers are asked to
“trust” the builder in an attempt to close the home before completion. If any
defects arise, it becomes very difficult to resolve them after closing.
ß **Homes built upon land not suitable for occupation. **Homes built upon known
toxic dumps (Brio Site Friendswood TX) or upon land with high water content
(San Antonio) or upon known target bombing ranges (Dallas) or upon lead
contaminated ground from an old sheet shooting range. (Ryland Homes)
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Non-Disclosure of future use of surrounding land. **Homeowners are surprised
when adjacent property is used for other purposes such as a quarry instead of
being open land.
ß Workers begin repairs but never finish.

Workers break other components in the home while fixing the original

**Homeowner warranty demands arbitration against FHA rules. **Homeowners
with an FHA mortgage are not required to agree to arbitration, yet the warrant
company will attempt to force this upon the owner. This is resolved only if FHA
is notified and contacts the warranty company.
ß **Builder refuses to fix code defects. **Builders do not respond to third party
inspectors, which find code violations. Code violations are also exempt from most
ß Builders put arbitration clauses in the contract even though it is an FHA/VA

**Home not built to windstorm codes. **Homes are built in windstorm areas, but
not to the windstorm codes as dictated by the insurance commission.
ß **Home not built on correct property lines. **Homes have been built crossing a
property line, most of time it is just a few feet, but nevertheless it is incorrect.
ß **Builder refuses to respond to complaints. **Builder refuses to respond to phone
calls, emails, or mail.
ß **Builder withholds information. **Builders have withheld information concerning
defects that they are aware of.
ß **Builder uses stalling tactics. **Builder will resort to inspections of the property
followed by subsequent inspections by different people, then followed by
different management teams and foreman. This drags the process out.
ß **Hidden charges in the contract. **Numerous hidden charges in the contract with
most buyers having to incur thousands of dollars of unexpected charges.
ß **Home not completed on homeowners land. **This applies to homes built on a
homeowner’s lot. The home is not completed due to defects and the builder stops
building. This is a problem because a buy back option is not feasible.
ß **Foremen are changed periodically. **Foremen are switched periodically causing a
delay in resolving a defect.


Foundation problems are by far some of the most common and most expensive to
resolve. Unusual settlement of a foundation can cause problems ranging from doors and
windows sticking to cracks in tile, brick, flooring, and more. Most warranties cover only
“Major Structural Damage” or MSD, which requires the home to be unsafe or unlivable,
before coverage will be initiated. This is a very extreme limitation especially since
foundation repairs are generally very expensive. Even multiple cracks in the walls, floor
and foundations under these extremely limited warranties are not covered.

Settling and active soils. Homebuilders and warranty companies use this as their
first line of defense claiming the home is built on active soil and they cannot be
responsible for the damage, yet many homes especially those in Texas are built on
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

active soils and have no problems. Foundations move not because of the soils, but
instead because of the lack of preparation of the soil or a defective foundation.

**Unreasonable maintenance. **After reviewing a foundation failure, the warranty
and builder claims the foundation must be “maintained” with adequate watering.
This is considered by FHA to be unreasonable. This is an unreasonable
requirement since there are no specifications about the moisture content of the
ß **A Hot Foundation. **This is a foundation that is not allowed to cure correctly. It
causes a weak slab and possible water intrusion into the house.
ß **Cracked slab. **This causes cracks to other items in the house, tile, walls,
windows, etc.
ß **Inadequate Draining. **Water does not drain away from foundation. Many times
the builder will install French drains to solve a foundation problem claiming the
water was not draining properly. This is a reactive repair instead of a preventative
ß **Consequential damage. **Damage done to the home caused by a failed foundation
including tile, interior walls, etc.
ß **Wet foundations. **Leaks water under the flooring causing wet carpets, wet grout,
ß **Foundation chipping. **The concrete of the foundation can be chipped off usually
causing buckling of floor coverings and water intrusion.
ß **Built not according to specifications. **Home is built without a brick ledge.
ß **Non-engineered foundations. **Foundation design does not have an engineering
approval causing a multitude of problems.
ß **Post tension foundation failures. **Cables snap or are not tensioned. Cables are
ß **Ground not prepared correctly. **Soil not compacted. Soil not fit for foundations.
ß **Organic material under foundation. **Trees, trash. Lot not cleaned prior to
foundation being poured.
ß **Built over a water-saturated area. **Homes have foundation problems due to a
water source under the ground.

**Other Concrete

This includes defects in other concrete areas. Usually the warranties will not address the
defects unless they are found within the first year and the cracks are 1/4” wide causing
very unsightly appearance.

**Cracks in sidewalk and driveway. **Cracks that exceed hairline and continue to
ß **Sagging driveway and sidewalk. **Driveway sections sag.
ß **Angle of driveway too steep. **Driveway entrance is too steep causing cars to
ß **Cracks in garage floor. **Exceeding hairline width and continue to grow.
ß **Cracks continuing to grow. **Small cracks continue to grow in width and length.
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Tile, Carpet, Flooring

This includes carpets, vinyl, hardwood floors and tile. Most of these defects are not
covered in the warranty past the first year.

**Hardwood floor buckles. **Due to a number of reasons such as water, or bad
ß **Hardwood floors rot. **Water from under the foundation or exterior.
ß **Hardwood floors discolors. **Reasons unknown.
ß Carpet is wet. Water from under the foundation or exterior.
ß Carpet sags. Causing tripping hazard. Limits life of carpets.
ß **Carpet seems noticeable. **Carpet seams should not be seen.
ß **Carpet discolors. **Color fades
ß **Carpet comes apart. **Comes apart from normal vacuuming.
ß **Tile cracks. **Hairline to larger.
ß **Tile comes loose. **Grout does not hold tile to the floor
ß **Tile grout is wet. **From water under the foundation or from exterior.
ß **Vinyl shrinks. **Baseboards exposed
ß **Vinyl bubbles. **Unknown cause.


Includes exterior bricks, synthetic stucco, vinyl and siding. Many of the warranties
include little if any protection for these items. Cracks in the exterior walls usually have to
be 1/8” to 1/4” of an inch wide before it is considered a defect. Usually cracks are
covered for only 1 year. The fact that it may be caused by a faulty foundation does not
come into consideration.

**Bricks crack. **Cracks seen in the exterior bricks could be a sign of foundation
ß **Weep holes plugged. **Does not allow water to escape from the walls.
ß **Bricks fall off the home. **Due to foundation movement or grout.
ß **Grout is coming apart. **Due to incorrect mixture.
ß **EIFS Cracks. **Unnoticeable hairline cracks an cause water intrusion
ß **EIFS Leaks into wall cavity. **Could cause wood rot. Hard to identify and find.
ß **EIFS Rotting of structure. **Wood rot due to EIFS draining.
ß **EIFS Rot caused over the years. **This is a long-term event. The rot is caused by
moisture build up within the walls. It takes time, sometimes years, to find.
ß **EIFS causes mold contamination. **The leaks in EIFS can cause mold
contamination of a home.
ß **Siding installed incorrectly. **Not to specification. Voids the warranty.
ß **Siding Nails rust. **Voids the warranty. Could cause the siding to fall. Unsightly.
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Siding Inadequately chalked. **Voids warranty. Leaks into the home.

**Vinyl siding fades. **Or discolors.

**Vinyl siding comes off. **Due to high winds or incorrect installation.


The warranties usually do not address window defects and any that are covered, are only
covered for one year.

**Leak from defective windows. **Windows leak from around the panes of glass.
ß **Leak from the bottom lip. **Windows leak from water buildup on the lip.
ß **Leak into wall. **Water leaks into the wall due to inadequate flashing, incorrect
installation, defective windows or installation of alarm system.
ß **Glue in windows is defective. **Glue begins to fail. Panes fall out of frame.
ß **Windows do not perform to specifications or standards. **Windows do not meet
the standard they are stamped with.
ß **Cannot open or close. **Windows do not operate.
ß **Cannot lock. **Windows shift to the point they do not lock.
ß Condensation in between panes. Seals are broken.
ß Installed backwards. Does not provide insulation due to the film inside of the
window facing the wrong way.
ß Leaks around the windows. Windows not installed properly.
ß Leaks into the wall. No flashing. Incorrect installation.
ß Windows are scratched.
ß Sills come apart. Due to condensation on composite wood products.


Paint is rarely covered in any warranty, especially exterior. Many times the builders will
blame the homeowner for lack of maintenance even during the first year. Builders have
claimed that the homeowners must wash their entire home with a bleach/water solution
every 6 months. Paint for cars are guaranteed for 5 years by law. Homes painted with a
15-year paint are not guaranteed at all. Homes painted by a third party are usually
guaranteed for 5 years.

**Peeling. **Peeling of the paint due to incorrect preparation of the surface.
ß **Fading. **Paint fades due to weather.
ß **Discolored. **Paint discoloring due to weather.
ß **Water down paint. **Paint mixed with water to extend the use of the paint.


The roof is not considered a structural component of the home except for FHA homes.
Roofs built by a third party are usually guaranteed for 5-10 years. Roofs built on a new
home are rarely guaranteed for more than 1 year.
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Shingles fly off. **Shingles pull off during high winds. Insurance will not cover if
installed incorrectly.
ß **No felt paper. **Incorrectly installed.
ß **Leaks. **Leaks from the roof into the interior of the home for various reasons.
ß **No flashing. **Leaks into wall cavity.
ß **No ventilation installed. **Hot attics and premature deterioration of roof.
ß **Incorrect support structure. **Incorrect trusses.
ß **Defective shingles. **Shingles, which decompose prematurely.
ß **Incorrect installation. **Incorrect installation of roof causing multiple problems.
ß **Shingles buckle. **Waves in the roof.


With the problems with mold contamination, plumbing should be high on the priority list
to insure correct installation. Most warranties including the HBW only guarantee the
plumbing for 1 year. Some of the leaks are slow to occur and are unnoticeable for a long

**Hot/Cold crossed. **Water is crossed into the tubs or sinks.
ß **Toilets overflow. **Overflow due to incorrect pipe width or incorrect installation.
ß **Toilets continue running. **Incorrect installation.
ß **Toilets leak into sub floor. **Causing mold and health risk.
ß **Shower pan leaks. **Causing damage to surrounding frame, wood rot, mold, and
health risk, Unseen for long periods of time.
ß **Tile leaks into the wall. **Leaks behind the tiles into the wall cavity. Unseen for
long periods of time.
ß Cracks in tile. Causing leaks into the wall, which will cause more swelling and
more leaks.
ß **Drain clogged. **Will not drain adequately. Easily clogged.
ß **Sewer smell. **Coming from shower, toilet, or sink.
ß **Sink does not seal. **Causing leaks into cabinet.
ß **Faucets drips. **Broken seals.
ß **Pinhole leaks. **Leaks develop over years causing pinhole leaks into the wall
cavity. This sometimes requires replumbing of the house at a very large price.
ß **Transition joints leak. **Transition joints within the walls leak.
ß **Nail in pipe. **Or nail driven next to a pipe causing a leak.
ß **Leaks behind the wall. **Causing a slow undetectable leak.
ß Bangs when water is turned on. Noisy pipes caused by water or by unsecured
ß **Excessive noise when running. **Reverberating through the house.
ß **Not insulated. **Possible freezing hazard.
ß **Plumbing in foundation not protected. **Causing expensive leaks after many
ß **Plumbing leak under foundation. **Causing foundation movement.
ß **Sewer leak under foundation. **Causing foundation movement.
ß **Water heater does not heat. **Cold water.
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**Toilet not secured. **Moves or leaks into sub floor.

**Air Conditioning and Heating

Air conditioning and heating is covered for only 2 years in most warranties like the
HBW, yet when a new unit is installed a 5-10 year guarantee is normal. A/Cs on cars are
guaranteed for at least 3 years.

**Fails to maintain cooling/heating difference. **Sometimes requires constant
changing of dampers.
ß **Fails to cool adequately. **A/C undersized for house.
ß **Power surge. **Causes power drops when A/C kicks in.
ß **Trips breakers. **Breakers are tripped when A/C kicks in.
ß **Leaks into attic. **Air ducts not sealed.
ß **Loss of freon. **Freon should not leak. Loss of freon is a defect in the A/C
ß **Does not perform as advertised. **Heating and A/C bills are over what the builder
guarantees with the Environment for Life program.
ß **Condensation on the coils. **Leaks into the walls.
ß **Drip pan leaks. **Causing leaks into the wall cavity.
ß **A/C unit does not drain. **Causes leaks.


This includes inside and outside doors. Doors are not covered in the warranties

**Not balanced. **Does not stay open.
ß **Will not close. **Does not close.
ß **Will not lock. **Will not line up with the plate.
ß **Will not open. **Sticks to frame due to foundation shifting or incorrect installation.
ß **Too much clearance. **Space between the bottom of the door and floor.
ß **Does not seal at threshold. **Water and air leaks.


Electrical items are covered only for 2 years. It would seem that a component as
important as electricity should be covered at the least for 5 years.

**Power surges **Causes flickering of lights.
ß **Breakers tripped. **Often tripping of breakers.
ß **Bulbs burn out on power up. **Often bulb burnout.
ß **GFCI breakers are not wired. **Incorrect wiring.
ß **Receptacles do not work. **No power.
ß **Switches do not work. **No power.
ß **Inadequate loading. **Over the entire house.
ß **GFCI breakers. **Often tripping of GFCI switches.
ß Burning smell.

Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings



This includes all non-foundations defects. Many of these are not covered in any warranty.

**Upper floor is slanted. **Causes a vertigo effect.
ß Upper floor sags. Not supported correctly.
ß **Wall buckles. **Stress from above.
ß **Exterior wall moves. **Actually will move if pushed. Brick walls also.
ß **Roof not supported. **Roof sags.
ß **Rafters too far apart. **Roof not supported correctly.
ß **Lumber size too small in the roof. **Could cause sagging.


Many of these are caused by other more serious defects. Many are also not covered in the
warranties or the coverage is limited.

**Wall separates from ceiling. **Shifting foundation.
ß **Walls are not plumb. **Or out of square.
ß Trim separates. Separates from the wall.
ß **Stair banisters move. **Not secured correctly.
ß **Stairs are too steep. **Causing a tripping hazard.


This is a set of miscellaneous defects.

**Mold growth. **Growth throughout the home from various causes.
ß Outgassing of chemicals. Outgassing of chemicals from various components of
the home.
ß **Smoke drafts back into house. **Causes smoke damage.
ß **Water pools in the yard. **Yards are unusable.
ß House built with defective products (Masonite). Siding, plumbing, roofing
materials many with recalls or lawsuits against them.
ß **Garage does not accommodate average size cars. **Cannot close garage or get
out of the car once parked.
ß **No insulation. **Causes high utility bills.
ß **Gutters leak. **Causes wood rot.
ß **Gutters do not drain. **Causes overflow.
ß **Floors squeak. **Annoying.


The following are documents HADD has written. They can be found on our website at
. There is no charge for downloading them.
Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings


**New Home Warranties. Deception or Protection?
**A report identifying extreme
limitations and loopholes in new home warranties. The report analyzes the most
popular warranties used by builders in the United States and highlights the
limitations, exclusions, and unreasonable maintenance requirements common to
each warranty. This is a must read for new homebuyers to understand what
limited rights you will have after your purchase.

**How to Resolve a New Home Construction Defect with a Homebuilder.
guide to help homeowners in the United States to resolve a defect with an
uncooperative builder. Includes alternative dispute resolutions available and a
description of the various complicated laws, which protect homebuilders. This
was derived from the guide below.

**The Abuse of Arbitration in New Home Contracts.
**A study on the use of
mandatory binding arbitration in new home contracts. If you think arbitration is
faster, cheaper, and better than our court system, then this is a must read! Know
what Constitutional rights you could lose before you sign your contract for a new

**Applying for Hardboard Siding Settlements
**A guide to help the millions of
homeowners with defective siding claims and the application process. Learn how
to identify the siding on your home and how to avoid costly and time consuming
problems. This includes Masonite, LP, ABTco and more.

**A Report on the Texas Mold Hearings.
**This report is on the first ever hearings
on mold contamination held across Texas in the summer of 2001. It includes a
discussion of mold types, causes of mold contamination and more.

**Home Buyers’/Home Improvement Guide.
**How to Avoid Being Hammered
When Buying a New Home or Remodeling. Before you buy a new home or
contract to remodel, know your rights and how to avoid being hammered. This
guide was created from the experiences of members of HADD. Don’t make a
mistake. Learn from ours!

**Donate to HADD

This document was written to help potential homebuyers in Texas. The members of
HADD use their own money and donate their own time to research and document helpful
Please consider a donation, whether $10, $20 or more, to HADD in order to continue
providing such information.
Contact for more information.

**About Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

Common Defects in New Home Construction

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, (HADD) a non-profit organization, came into
existence in response to an overwhelming need of support and resolution from families
who felt isolated while coping with their devastating home damages and loss. Because
the lone attempts to get their homes fixed proved unsuccessful, these families started to
find each other and united into a cohesive group with a common cause. It was while
testifying before legislative committees in the Kansas State Capital that HADD emerged
as a grass roots organization.
HADD is not an arbitration group, nor does it provide legal counsel. HADD offers
support and suggestions to assist consumers in making educated, informed decisions
when buying a home or resolving the complicated issues involving deficient homes.
Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
Nancy Seats, President
161A Dartingbird Lane
Eureka, MO 63025


Gerry - how are you coming on that list?

Joe - thanks for the list re. new construction - really helps! I’ll give it to the guys at the next seminar!

…and now, the Award for the longest post ever–the envelop, please…:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

So to answer Brian’s question directly, upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader: