Build A House - Do You Need An Inspection?

A mistake many new home buyers make when building or buying a new home is to believe they do not need to purchase a home inspection. The belief that the builder or the city inspector has made sure the home was built properly is a mistake.

We have helped our clients build hundreds of homes in the Collin County area of Texas. As we walked through the process of building homes we documented many of them on our YouTube channel. We have identified minor and major issues. Items that should never have been done and certainly not missed.

New Home Issues

New construction homes have very different issues form residential resale homes. For example, the home may have the wrong products installed, or the items were poorly installed. There may have even been damage done to the home during the construction or installation process and it was covered up. All these items and more can be discovered and documented by an expert home inspector.

When Should An Inspection Be Performed

We recommend a three phase inspection:

  1. Pre-Drywall
  2. Before Closing
  3. 10 Months of Ownership

Pre-Drywall Inspection

As your home is being built, it will eventually have the foundation, walls framed, windows installed, doors, roof, plumbing, electrical and HVAC installed. At this time, the drywall is not yet installed so our inspector can literally see inside the walls. This allows an inspector to check connections, insulation, and problems that will be hidden once the builder installs the drywall.

Before Closing

Shortly before you close on the home and take possesion, you should have an inspection performed. This is when a comprehensive test is made on all mechanical and electrical functionality in the home. Things like lights, electrical outlets, appliances, HVAAC and so on are tested. This is the most detailed inspection and takes the longest amount of time to perform. This inspection report can be turned over to the builder and all the items should be fixed without issue.

10 Months of Ownership

Most home builders offer a one year warranty on the homes they build. Do not wait until the warranty is almost up to try and check the home yourself. You might miss many items and you may turn them in to late to comply with the warranty.

Hiring your home inspector to return and re-inspect your home at 10 months ensures the builder can not deny your claim and has plenty of time to schedule and complete the requested repairs.

Use A Certified Inspector

There are various certification inspectors can attain. The most important one is to be licensed by the state of Texas.

Inspection Checklist

If you still don't want to take my advice and purchase a new home inspection then here is a short list of items you can check at your 'final walkthrough' on or before closing day.

  1. Doors - open every one of them, checking for easy closing, silent operation and smooth latching. Check for smooth paint and no chips or cracks.

  2. Windows - operate every single one. That means open them, close them, latch them, tilt them in or out and check for cracks or seal breakage.

  3. Walls - place your head next to them and look to ensure they are fairly straight with no bulging. Examine the paint and texture for cracks and smoothness.

  4. Ceilings - see Walls above

  5. Trim - should be straight with no defects and smooth paint and caulk.

  6. Flooring - no squeeks or variation in heigh, none. No cracks, splits, chips or inconsistent finish. 

  7. Appliances - You must operate them at the hottest and then the coldest settings. Run through all the features and functions. Ensure lights work, temps are atttained for max and min settings.

  8. Cabinets and built-ins - open every door, drawer and built in. Check for smooth operation, level and aligned fit and finish. Ensure there are no blemishes, cracks and everything operates smoothly.

  9. Fixtures - Lights should light up, no noise, sparks or switches sticking. Everything should be ligned up straight and in a reasonable location. Yes, make them move it if they are not. Trust me you will notice this forever.

  10. Sinks, toilets, showers and tubs - Flush them, fill them, let them run and drain for a long long time. Check for leaks, noise and smooth operation. Listen for water hammer in the water heaters if present.

  11. Outlets - buy an outlet tester, just trust me. Now go use that on every outlet.

  12. HVAC - This will not be fun. Set the heater to as hot as possible and wait till the house heats up. Now reverse it by turning on the AC and perform the same test looking for the coldest temp. Make sure the duct work is installed without pinching the tubes. Listen for any noise, document everything.

  13. Low voltage systems - turn them all on and test them.

  14. Attic - Get up in there and walk around SAFELY please. Check for clean air filters, lights working, switch location and learn how to operate the system from the builder.

  15. Landscaping - Check the trees, plants and grass for health, damage and confirm it is what you ordered.

  16. Sprinkler System - run the system test through every zone and confirm it sprays water. Learn the system from the builder and ask them to program it for you. They typically have already done this.

  17. Patio - Look for excessive cracks and a smooth level finish.

  18. Driveway - Same as patio.

  19. Exterior Paint - Look for unpainted spots, thin paint, missing flashing, areas where rodents or animals could enter the home or attic.

  20. Gutters - ensure a smooth and clean install

  21. Water Faucets - test each of them. No leaks or splashing you. 

  22. Drainage - very tough to test.

  23. Lighting - Make sure all lights work and are sealed from the elements.

  24. Garage - Check the breaker box, sprinkler controls, garage door openers, wall paint, trim, smooth floor and that doors to the home shut easily and tightly seal.

Now after doing all the above, hopefully you documented everything and took many, many photos. You can now create an easy to read report and submitt it to the builder. Hopefully they will accept your document like they will a report from a home inspector. 

I hope this helps you as you move forward with the purchase of your home. Please consider using a professional home inspector when building your new home. You will thank me in the future, you can depend on it.

A Real Home Inspection

This video shows our broker Brent Wells meeting with Rod Little (a licensed home inspector) to go over the summary of our clients new home inspection. The first few minutes of the video is the summary and should give you an idea of what its like.

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