New Home Inspections — Examining New Construction

My builder told me that the home has already been inspected and approved by the city.

Of course he did.  Your builder does not want an independent inspector anywhere near your new home.  The municipal inspectors are so overwhelmed that it would be impossible for them to conduct a new home inspection on every house under construction.  On average, each municipal inspector in my area must conduct approximately 22 inspections per day.

As a professional independent inspector, I know for a fact that it is not possible to do more then 3 thorough home inspections in one day. To be honest, 3 home inspections in one day is pushing it!  Typically a thorough Austin property inspection takes 3-4 hours. Many inspectors will not do more then 2 new home inspections in one day.  If the home is over 5,000 square feet or an older pier and beam type home, we will only be able do one per day.  In all fairness, the municipal inspectors are not inspecting the new home all at once as we are.  However, it is still not possible to be thorough with such a heavy work load.

Green Tag – Seal of Approval?

Once a new home has received a green tag, doesn’t that mean that everything is proper and safe?

No!  I have personally followed up a number of municipal inspections that overlooked numerous items.  As an example, I found one home that had a green tag stamped directly on the panel box at the exterior of home.  The municipal inspector passed the installation while I was in the process of inspecting the home.  After he left, I inspected the installation and found that the electrical system’s ground wire was disconnected from the ground rod.  The ground rod was installed directly below the panel in plain sight.

Inspecting a Home During Construction

Should I have my new home inspected during construction?

Absolutely!  Often times many problems that would otherwise be difficult to repair can easily be corrected during construction.

Contact Your Inspector

When is the best time to contact an inspector?

Ideally, you will want to start communication with your inspector as soon as you sign a contract with your builder.  It is important to let your builder know up front that you intend to have your new home inspected by an independent third party construction expert.  This may help to set a tone with the builder and let him know that you expect things to be done properly.  When possible, we recommend that have a structural engineer inspect the foundation prior to the pour.  A follow up inspection should be conducted after the foundation has set up.  At this time you will want the engineer to map elevations of the home.  These elevations can serve as a baseline to compare with any future movement that may take place.  We can help you choose a responsible structural engineer.

Many inspectors conduct a pre-drywall inspection.  This part of a new home inspection is important because it allow us to catch problems that will not be apparent once the drywall is installed.  If other problems, such as electrical or mechanical issues are discovered, they can be corrected prior to the drywall being installed as well.  This will benefit you because if the drywall is cut at a later time to correct issues, it can be very difficult to match the texture and you may end up with an unsightly spot on the wall of your new home.  The final new home inspection should be conducted after all utilities are turned on and the appliances are installed.  The builder should be provided with at least one week’s notice of each inspection.  If you are purchasing a new home that is already near completion, the final inspection is still a good investment that can pay for itself over and over again.

Who’s Responsibility is it to Build a Quality Home?

It seems that you are asking me to go overboard with all of these inspections. Isn’t the builder responsible to build a quality home?

We are only looking out for your best interest.  It would be impossible for me to describe all the potential hassles and problems related to skipping the new home inspection process.  We view ourselves as consumer advocates.  We are there to protect your best interest.  If you were expecting to purchase a new home with problems, you would not be going through all the time consuming hard work and aggravation of the construction process in the first place.  As a consumer advocate, you can be guaranteed that we will do everything we can to see that you end up with a quality home.

No.  The builder is not responsible to build you a quality home.  The builder is responsible to meet minimal standards at best.  In the many years we have been inspecting houses, we have found that most builders seem to be more concerned with quantity of turnover vs. quality of construction.  It is not difficult to build a home that will be somewhat free of problems during the time of the builder warranty.  It is an entirely different process to build a new home that will be in good condition (assuming proper maintenance) 35 years after construction.  Of course we realize that you may not be in that home 35 years down the road.  However, you will probably be in the home after the warranty has expired.  When you go to resale in the future, chances are good that the purchaser will hire an independent home inspector.  It would be a shame for you to be put in the position of having to pay for builder mistakes at that time.

Other added benefits of new home inspections include:

1)  Saving money, time and aggravation – The builder should arrange for repairs if problems are found after you move into your new home.  Every time you have to stay home from work to meet with a repair person, it will cost you money one way or the other.  Not only that, but the aggravation factor of dealing with these issues is not something that you are going to want to go through.

2)  Peace of mind – Assuming that things are found to be in good order or the builder repairs items found during the inspection, you will have piece of mind and confidence that you have received the new home you paid fof.

3)  Education – The new home inspection process can be very educational.  You will likely walk away from the inspection with knowledge of your house that you would not have otherwise received.  We go out of our way to provide as much information as possible about not only the construction of your home but tips on how to maintain it.

Updated: November 1, 2016 — 1:32 pm

The Author

Mike Martin, Dallas home inspector

ASHI Certified Real Estate Inspector, focused on home inspections in the North Dallas communities of McKinney, Plano, Park Cities and Frisco TX. Mike earned his license as a TREC-certified Professional Real Estate Inspector — the highest designation available right out of training. He joined Advanced Inspection Service in October 2013. Mike is also a Certified Swimming Pool Inspector and Certified Termite Inspector - See more at: http://www.realestateinspector.com/about-mike-martin
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