A potential client called and wanted to know if I would do the phase inspections as his new home is being built. I told him I could, of course. I haven’t done one before, but his house isn’t going to start for a few weeks yet. I have heard discussions that it is best done in five phases. I would like to find a good guide on the best way to do one of these. Thanks, Dan
Buy a code book.
a code book is only 10 percent of what you need…
You need experience with being around construction sites that are in different stages. Also you need to read books on construction that do not concentrate on code issues. The code books do not have anything on engineered lumber, LVL, TJI’s etc. This is where the serious mistakes are made around here.
What Joe said.
Too many items to list.
Your first step would have to be your ironclad agreement/contract.
Thorough understanding of all construction components and installation and muni standards.
All Code Checks http://www.codecheck.com/
Mine are 7 phase. Item by item. Based on sq.ft. and amenities. NOT CHEAP
I saw some guy is doing these for $500.00, this wont pay for my gas, let alone reports, or time.
I have a number of Frisco,TX projects at this time, all through referrals or repeats.
I generally do a few drive bys in between and inspect on weekends to avoid trades interference.
Talk or email with the builders and clients on an as need basis, bill for phone time and extra trips beyond the 7.
Conversations are direct and to the point when they know the clock is ticking.
To properly Conduct and Contract a Phase Inspection, you need to know what the needs and expectations of the Client are.
I have contracted Phase inspections that are 2, 3, 4, and/or 5 Inspection visits in total.
One was weekly and/or as needed over a period of several months charged at an hourly rate.
Determine the needs of the client and make your proposal accordingly.
New Home phase inspections are code oriented and manufacturer specific to the materials used in the construction of the home.
Code reference material as well as Architect’s / Engineer’s available for consultation and/or opinion also help.
Divison 2 = Sitework evaluation.
Division 3 = Concrete, placement and reiforcement.
Division 6 = Rough Carpentry
Division 7 Thermal and sealants
Division 8 Windows and doors
Division 9 Drywall, and finishes
Division 10 Specialties
Division 15,16 Electrical and Mechanical
Timing has to be right to cover all of these.
Just a starter.
Like Joe H. said you need to be in tune with the client, some are extremely picky on their new house and for good reason.
My average pre-drywall inspection results in about 45 writeups.
Of those 45 less than 5 are usually code violations.
About 5 are things to check on to make sure the builder knows not to proceed until they are finished.
About 5 are client concerns etc.
The other 30 are also important and no code book will teach you how to find these problems…
Bruce, I’d love to hear a few examples of non-code stuff you find that is a concern. (Just trying to learn.) Thanks.
If you are going to be looking for flashing and moisture barrier problems, and stucco installation.
Lets be on the look out for the new flashing method.
The end product of no moisture barrier and bad flashing. The wood rot guy had the home owner out looking at it he then put the new trim on and left. There was a for sell sign in the front yard. Do you thingk they told the new buyers?
Here is a list from a pre-drywall inspection…
Some items are code violations but I do not quote code on these, the client usually does not want to pay for just a “code inspection” they want more than that.
Several foundation bolts are missing washers and nuts.
Downstairs left rear window needs a 2x4 under the truss above.
Need a 2x4 under the truss above the door to the garage header.
The right rear sunroom has a stud with a gap above it.
The bolt heads hanging down from the garage door header should be countersunk.
Upstairs right toilet room has a nail protruding above the switch box.
The upstairs left bathroom door opening has a loose and bowed out stud present.
The extra blocking in the kitchen for cabinet mounting does not extend all the way to the rear.
The garage entry door threshold is missing support on the garage side.
One of the regular rafter tails is protruding an inch or two more than the others at the front of the garage door.
The garage sink rough in has the drain pipe several feet from the desired location. There is no hot and cold water rough in present. No connection to a vent system exists, an air admittance valve will likely be needed also.
Gas line at fireplace needs securing.
Gas line into fireplace needs bushing for protection.
Both tubs need edges secured to framing with shims as necessary.
Both tub valves need wood brace installed to secure the valve and piping.
The wiring for the kitchen cooktop and ovens is not correct. Only one 6 gauge aluminum cable goes to the electrical panel from the location that will have an oven and convection microwave unit. The oven typically needs the 6ga and the microwave/convection unit will need another circuit.
The cooktop has no circuit to the panel, it is wired over to the oven location.
Verify that a garbage disposal circuit is present.
The laundry room only has one outlet and it will be behind the washer.
The sunroom needs a ceiling box that will support a fan/light assy.
The upstairs sitting room needs a proper ceiling fan box.
The foyer ceiling box is not adequate for a large chandelier.
The right rear master bedroom can light needs to move about 1.5 inches to the left.
The center small can light in the kitchen should be moved out to accodate the curved section of the counter.
The upstairs far right hall light is not in line with the other two.
The double gang box at the bottom of the stairs should face into the kitchen with precautions as to the locations of the stove and cabinets.
Verify the sunroom single gang wall box with 4 low voltage cables is the correct size box.
Verify the single gang box at the entertainment center location is correct for 10 or more cables that are present.
Need nail protection plates under the stairs to protect the low voltage wiring.
Verify that the wall switch (next to the bed location) in the center master bedroom is wired as 3-way with the other switch for the can lights.
Verify the outlet in the master bedroom has a half-hot configuration.
Several thin pancake type ceiling boxes present, these are marginal and I do not recommend their use due to limited space for wiring and connectors.
These boxes appear to be installed with sheetrock screws also.
The line set in the attic for the #2 unit will not reach the unit without blocking access to unit #1.
The line sets need proper splicing at the left rear attic.
Both attic units are missing the secondary condensate pipes that should be directed into the drip pan.
Both attic units have their primary condensate drain discharging into the laundry room washer drain, this can cause dripping sounds.
Both attic units do not have float switches installed in the drip pans.
The secondary condensate lines should discharge above a window to make it more evident when the primary line is clogged.
The upstairs left bedroom closet size has been reduced by an hvac duct.
Moving the duct to its proper location will not be simple since the truss can not be cut or modified.
Verify the kitchen vent hood will exhaust to the exterior when installed.
The left downstairs tub has wood debris under the tub plumbing area.
Holes in sheating need patching at left rear and side.
Verify that the beam in the garage door will not prevent installation of a garage door opener.
The right front corner (downstairs or upstairs?) has a low voltage cable that does not appear to be installed correctly.
The ridge vents appear to be blocked or partially blocked at the sunroom and the main house. The limited length of these vents may require additonal attic ventilation (powered fan) to properly vent this attic.
The downstairs tub has a large metal plate above it that appears to have no purpose and will prevent adequate securing of the drywall.
All speaker locations as per the client should have space for flush mounted speakers. The single gang boxes are not needed and should not protrude through the sheetrock. Several speaker wires are not in the location desired by the client. The master bath wires do not appear to be long enough to reach the proper locations.
Need to clean off the construction adhesive where it hangs down excessively from the ceiling especially in the kitchen area.
The mortar joints need tuck pointing around the exterior block walls.
The left upstairs front bedroom needs the cable outlet placed in the correct location.
The upstairs center rear room (master bedroom) needs the cable located on the rear wall.
The master bedroom ceiling above the bay window does not have easy access for blown in insulation, recommend adding insulating batts here to ensure it does not get missed.
The rear roof section has a small hip rafter next to a vent pipe that has substandard shingling present on it.
The left rear main hip rafter has a dip near the top that is substandard.
Right front has two broken bricks present.
The left rear has two windows that do line up vertically from the upper and lower levels.
No main breaker present in panel at this time, need to verify that one will fit into this type of panel.
picky picky picky and I mean that in a good way!
Bruce, that was great and very eye-opening. I know I would not have picked up very many of those. Feel like I need to start all over again with page one of the books and manuals. There is a course in August here in Dallas at Kaplan that covers how to do these inspections. I will definitely take it if possible. If that guy does call me back, I will refer him to someone more experienced and tag along to learn. Thanks, Dan
That was exceptional Bruce! How much do you charge for an inspection like that?
That one was 2400 SF and $200, no long report for these.
Private construction phase inspections are not regulated by NC or SC.
The client was there so it took about 3 hours for a 2-story slab house.
The method that works for me is to make about five passes through the house and 2 or 3 on the exterior and to climb into the attic.
Some of these pre-drywall’s take 10-15 minutes before you start seeing the problems due to the overwhelming amount of lumber wires and pipes visible.
I charge more for the larger homes with crawlspaces but the idea is to give them a good deal and then get the final inspection too.
Most people don’t realize that these inspections are available and still think the “builder inspections and walk throughs and county inspections are enough” I did one the other day that had passed two different builder inspection programs and the county ones, still found about 30 problems.
Its a free service for the builder really that the buyer pays for.
I also prep my client for the answers to typical builder responses to some items:
builder: " this one meets code"
client: show me the code please and put it in writing.
builder: " I don’t know what he means by this one"
client: Then get your subs in here, they will know.
builder: " this is just the way we build"
client: It is unacceptable to me, please fix everything on the list.
builder: " we can’t change that framing without an engineers stamp saying that it is wrong"
client: then hire an engineer, if it is ok then I will pay you for the engineer.
builder: " this guy is too picky"
client: I know thats why I hired him, just fix the problems please.
I like all of your answers Bruce, but am especially fond of the engineer part.
do you include any photos are do you just generate a punch list?