New Home Inspections

In general, inspecting new homes is (IMO) a little different from other inspections. A closer attention to workmanship, for instance. I’d like to get some other viewpoints. What do you look for? What do you see out there as common defects in new housing? Do you charge more, less, or the same for new home inspections? I live in the south, so we don’t have to worry about ice shields or frost lines, though we see quite a few daylight basements and even a few full basements. But if you’re a Canuck, don’t hesitate to chime in with snow and ice related issues! We can never know too much, and everyone’s opinions and observations are valued and appreciated.

I charge the same on new construction as I do old construction…I am in Central/southern California…the norm here is faulty arc faults or gfi’s and plumbing issues ranging from gas lines not strapped, reverse hot and cold or no hot water at all to certain fixtures.

Hope this helps.

Gas line strapping is an earthquake issue, isn’t it? We probably should have that here, since we live atop the New Madrid fault, which could bust loose big time at any second. Unfortunately, none of the earthquake provisions are enforced in this area. I’m assuming that you are talking about special strapping meant to reduce movement during an earthquake.

I charge more for a Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI) or new home inspection. Mine take longer than a regular house of the same size and style. In a PDI you should be looking for ALL code violations (may have been missed by code officials). In one recent PDI, I found 7 electrical and plumbing code misses; this house had been issued its occupancy permit and was ready to live in.

Quality is a bit of an issue…what level of quality do you look for in a $125,000 house versus a $1.5 million dwelling (I did an 11 month warranty inspection (20 hours) on such a creature last April- some major crap going on there…$65,000 for 3 HVAC systems and none working properly; support post for major carrying PSL beam was compressing the beam by 3/8 inch…floor truss plans were changed by contractor; damaged shingles used on roof; wine cellar under large front steps leaked in every rain…goes on and on!!!)

Building to code does not give you a high quality home. As one gent at Fine Homebuilding’s web forum says: “Bad builders build to code; good builders go beyond”. I say: “It’s the least we let them get away with!”. Get all the code stuff and discuss the quality items with the propective owners. Here’s a page from my website:

we charge the same unless we also do a framing inspection.

some of the worst houses I have inspected were brand new. my brother inspected a new house last summer or so where the girders were not bearing on FOURTEEN different piers. this was a very large, expensive custom house.

I love my job…never bored lol.

Holy Smoke…what was holding it together, subflooring?

It surely was too soon to be held together by memory! New homes often have more issues than an equivalent home that is ten years old. Common items are, in no particular order, drains not hooked up (a bummer if its a waste pipe), water heaters not hooked up, unattached furnace ducts,caps left on plumbing vents, furnace duct holes cut too large for register (no problem, just carpet over the hole). There are many other things. It’s getting too late in the evening to be exhaustive. Wait a minute; I’m exhausted. Seriously, on a new home I also carefully check cosmetic items. Those nail holes should be puttied on a new home.

If you are inspecting a new home, you had better know your codes. These inspections take more time because you are not only insepcting what you normally do, but you are also inspecting workmanship and cosmetic issues. I always require my client to be there so they can also look for any cosmetic issues they want listed in the report, as there is no way you will catch them all. Usually these inspections are limited in time by the developer if they are done prior to closing. Always remember to check the floor tiles and the bathroom wall tiles, especally arouond the shower.

I do a lot of new homes, some are very bad.
Many buyers sell within a few years and the next inspector may call out detailed issues with the girders not bearing on the center 1/3 of the pier etc. So you better be very very thorough. Also water intrusion into the crawlspace is a common issue and improper attic ventilation.

My inspection is the same, regardless of the age of a home. However, I tend to make make specific comments about poor workmanship and cosmetic deficiencies on new homes, as opposed to a general disclaimer about the same on older homes.

Thanks for the comments, guys. Glad to hear that others call out cosmetic issues. After all, it’s a NEW house! Yeah, builders like to rush it, or sometimes play little subtle disruptive games in hopes you won’t be TOO thorough. Especially with all those spec houses sitting out there, and balloon notes due at the bank!

Ask your client if they want you to call out “cosmetic” items.
It should take the same viewing time to observe a component that is built correctly as it takes to observe it built incorrectly. There is additional time in recording the defective component, but the other factors remain the same.

New construction, since there’s usually nothing in the way, gives you opportunity to look at more. You can operate every window, test every outlet.

Put a checklist together and estimate how much time you thing your houses are going to take, add reporting time and multiply times your hourly rate. Make up a separate new construction price sheet for yourself and after a few you’ll be able to average it out.

good luck

We do not get into cosmetics. The state actually prefers we do not simply because it is in the arena of opinion, and thats fine with me because I agree. I will point out blatant cosmetic defects gladly to the client, but as far as determining what is ok cosmetically, that is a job for the buyer, their realtor, and the walk thru supervisor. The sheetrock can be left unpainted and the floors uncovered for all I care.

Keith Swift:
"My inspection is the same, regardless of the age of a home."

I find this hard to believe. What about code items that you should ensure meet the minimums?

If you do older and new houses the same, do you call all items in the old house that do not meet today’s codes?

HIs do NOT do code. That is the AHJ’s responsibility. Let them take the liability.

In our state, HIs are prohibited from doing code inspections.

Better to let the AHJ take the liability.

HIs do NOT do code.

Then what are we doing inspecting new homes supposedly built to codes for public health and safety reasons???

If we do not know codes and proper, safe installation practices, what are we doing in any house. Do your reports read like one I have in my possession from one of the largest franchisors that says “An air exchanger was noted”. Good, boy, good!!! But does it work, is it properly installed, is it ducted to areas it should be ducted to, is it adequately sized for the house, do the various controls (dehumidistat, timers, speed controls) work, has it been serviced, does it have a condensate drain, where does it drain to…I can go on.

I can say that all the lights were working in a house but…what does that tell the buyers? The insurance company would like to know if the wiring is close to 100 year old knob & tube. They will not insure it here or charge such a high premium that it’s cheaper to have the stuff replaced. Last year, I ran into 3 homes that had been inspected at 1-3 times over the years by some of the “best” inspectors in town. After my inspections, one house was marked down by $10,000 to cover the cost of replacing the 60% K&T in place; the other was hauled off the market to replace the K&T + unprotected surface wiring (some of it lamp cords stapled in place) at a cost of about $9,300; the third was a small job- rip out a wall to replace the K&T single circuit feed to the attic and upper bedrooms (it was overloaded with about 15-16 outlets).

Just what are we inspecting for out there? Don’t make a sham of this potentially great profession. Our customers truly need us as today they don’t have a large family where most male siblings were in the trades and…houses have gotten very complex today. I know- I have trained in some of the changing aspects…and also work in litigation against those who screw up.


I do new homes and I tell the client up-front I don’t do code inspections because that has been done by the AHJ. So what do they want? Most have told me they want to make sure all plumbing is good and working as designed, electrical outlets/fixtures grounded, GFCI’s work, HVAC/AC is installed adequately and ductwork install is good, etc. In general, they want a “quality-control” inspection with me being their eyes to areas they aren’t familiar with and that most AHJ’s don’t bother with in a final inspection. (nothing against AHJ inspectors, they are code, not quality-control inspectors)

Thanks for all the comments, men. Citing code can get you in big trouble real fast. Codes are our guidelines. Don’t get caught in court with the word “code” anywhere in your report. Just state the facts. I was really curious to see how many of us bother with cosmetic issues, which I personally don’t.

Since the builder is under no obligation to you whatsoever, what language do you use to report your findings of defects in new construction workmanship, if you don’t use building codes?

You do yourself & your profession a disservice if when inspecting new construction you don’t use building codes to describe the defect findings within your report.

Apart from the language of building codes it is very difficult to comprehensively explain new construction building defects that convey the message of quality-control that a builder would understand and act upon.

I do new construction inspections all the time. My price remains the same as any other home. I always tell my clients that I will come up with a list, no matter what year the house was built.

There are some shoddy contractors out there that simply do not know how to build a home to code or simply build a home that is safe.

I’ve inspected newly constructed homes with many defects. Here are several that I can clearly recall…one with a main carrying beam bearing 1/4" on a poured foundation, sewer stack (incomplete) terminating in the attic, granite countertop notched around a low outlet, branch wiring bundled with tie wraps, improper grading around bulkheads and foundation and flashings installed improperly.

I can go on but I’m just trying to prove a point…No home is perfect.