New Construction Home Inspections
When I began inspecting homes in May of 2003, the idea of inspecting a new construction home was foreign in our area. I remember making a presentation in a Real Estate Office about the need for new construction inspections and the response was, “Why does it need to be inspected, it’s new?” Let’s play out this scenario in other industries: Imagine if new cars were not inspected before they left the assembly line, or if medical equipment was not inspected before it entered the hospital, or if an airplane was not inspected before it took off? Please understand that there are many moving parts and people involved in new construction. An independent review of the work that has been done is good business for everyone involved.
Here is a list of items commonly found in new construction inspections:
1. Missing flashing at vertical wall/roof connections.
I am amazed at how many times this occurs. When roof to wall flashing is missing, leaks may occur. The leak may not show up immediately, and it may never be a problem. However, the flashing is required and should be installed according to local code requirements.
2. Improper installation of tankless water heaters.
These units are relatively new. We began to see installation around 10 years ago. Often, the sizing on the gas line is incorrect, units in attics are missing pans and exterior wall cavities have not been properly sealed. Each of these issues may cause water damage to the interior of the home or put excessive strain on the operation of the system.
3. Gutter installations are incorrect.
This has become increasingly common. Correct installation would remove the wood drip edge from beneath the shingles and install the gutter directly beneath the shingle drip edge. More times than not, the gutter installer did not take the time to remove the drip edge and the gutter has been installed on top of the drip edge, which causes sagging and overflow; or the gutter has been installed beneath the drip edge which causes water to backwash over the wood drip edge and behind the gutter. This will eventually lead to concealed wood rot.
4. The absence of adequate attic walk ways to mechanicals.
I cannot tell you how many times I have entered a brand new attic and had to traverse ceiling joists to reach the HVAC and/or water heater. Or, better yet, while walking on the walk way one of the boards literally bounces up because it has not been secured. That makes for an especially exciting attic inspection.
5. Concealed water leaks due to nail holes in pex plumbing.
Pex plumbing is a terrific product that has all but replaced copper water lines. Many times, while installing sheetrock and/or cabinetry, nails penetrate these water lines and small leaks occur. I have been using thermal imaging for over 10 years. This technology has found hundreds of these leaks through the years.
6. Roof leaks at plumbing and/or mechanical flue penetrations.
Let me tell you a secret, “My guess is that ninety percent of all houses will leak during construction.” Builders are managing a process and sub contractors and there will always be human error. No one is trying to mess up a house. It’s just part of the process. Finding and dealing with leaks before the owner takes possession is just part of building a home.
A few other things to keep in mind when purchasing a new construction home.
Mississippi does require a warranty from the builder. That information can be found at http://www.hbam.com/media/4431/NewHomeWarrantyActJuly12012.pdf.
The builder is not your enemy. I’ve watched this phenomena over the last few years and I am increasingly amazed at conspiracy theories. Call me an eternal optimist, but I actually believe we are all doing the best we can and the builder wants to build a good house. There may be a few exceptions to this belief, as with any industry, however, most of the new homes we inspect are well built with notable issues the builder will gladly address in order to sell the house.
If I had one wish, it would be that builders would understand that independent inspectors are not their enemy! I have made it a practice to try and communicate with builders about standards and acceptable practices. I want them to build a lot of houses and sell them! I want to inspect them! The more houses they build, the more houses I can inspect. And, when the issues are caught before the owner moves in, it reduces call backs and constant phone calls from buyers through that one year warranty requirement. When issues are addressed, the buyer is happy, the builder is happy and the inspector is happy!
Here at Inspect It Like A Girl®, we understand that a home is one of the largest investments you will ever have. Purchasing, selling, and/or remodeling a home can be stressful and time-consuming. When people in the Jackson Metro area hire Inspect It Like A Girl® as their home inspector, they know that they are getting an inspector they can trust to do the job right and give them the information they need.
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