Should You Hire a Home Inspector For a New House?
Should you get a new construction home inspection? When you buy an existing home, a home inspection isn’t a difficult decision. It will make sure you aren’t spending money on a property that will cause you many problems and expenses.
Like most of Metro Jacksonville, thousands of new homes and several new subdivisions are under construction near my home in Green Cove Springs. As I drive past them, I wonder how many of the people buying these homes are forgoing the home inspection before purchase. Then I wonder if they are doing so because they don’t know it’s their right to have a home inspection or is it because the builder has told them it isn’t needed.
A home inspection for new construction can be a good idea and worth doing. While you will, of course, have the expense of paying the inspector, everything else is a benefit. It will give you peace of mind that there are no major issues.
If the inspector does find significant problems, it will be something you want to know ,and have addressed, before closing on the home.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why a new home inspection could be essential and maybe something you shouldn’t skip before closing.
Is a New Construction Home Inspection Included in the Contract?
A final walk-through should be included in the contract when buying new construction, but a professional home inspection is less likely. This informal walk through is generally called a “Blue Tape Walkthrough.” This is because you will walk through the home with the builder and place a piece of blue tape anywhere you see a problem. Most of the time these are cosmetic issues because the average buyer doesn’t know how to spot more serious issues.
Not every new construction buyer will choose to get a home inspection, but they probably should. Even if you trust your contractor and have been involved with the whole building process, you shouldn’t be complacent.
Ordering an inspection from someone who will be independent is a wise decision when spending so much on your new home. This is good advice whether you buy new construction homes or older properties.
You Won’t Get a Standard Home Inspection Contingency Like Older Homes
With a resale property, the home inspection contingency clause will typically allow you to escape the contract with your money back. With new construction homes, this is almost always not the case.
Most general contractors will not custom-build a home for you that allows a contingency to escape the sale. That would be financially ridiculous. Reputable builders, however, should allow a licensed home inspector to perform an inspection for “informational purposes only.”
A professional inspector will provide a home inspection report detailing any safety issues and building deficiencies. The home inspection process can not only help you learn about the property but also put together a final punch list.
Reasons Why You Should Get a New Home Inspection
There is a greater risk of problems and things breaking when purchasing an older home. While you might expect to avoid issues with something like the plumbing or the electrical problems in new construction, there could still be things wrong, however.
People are only human, and even if your builder is trying to make sure your new home is perfect, mistakes can still happen. Also, your builder will likely subcontract some of the work to other vendors. The work of these subcontractors isn’t necessarily going to be as good as it should be, and mistakes or errors can be challenging to spot.
Problems can also occur when a contractor is rushing to meet a deadline. Perhaps they need to move on to another job and are hurrying to complete your home. But whatever the reason, these errors need to be picked up so that they don’t become your responsibility.
While you might assume your new home is perfect, it might not be the case.
Potential Problems With New Construction
When an inspector creates a report on new construction, there are certain areas they will pay more attention to. These defects might include:
- Most punch lists for builders include lots of touch-up painting.
- Unfinished construction: something might have been missed in the building process, like missing insulation.
- Damage to the wood siding or exterior walls: the siding could be cracked, wavy, or swell because of moisture.
- Insufficient drainage leads to water damage: correct grading and drainage around the property ensure water doesn’t seep into the foundations.
- Cracking concrete: poorly mixed concrete can lead to shrinkage and cracking.
- Improperly installed plumbing: pipes can be incorrectly hooked up if an experienced plumber hasn’t been hired.
- Heating and cooling: if the HVAC system hasn’t been installed correctly, it could end up costing you a lot more to heat or cool your house than it should do.
- The water heater is not hooked up correctly.
- Construction debris in the ducts: during construction, materials can find their way into ducts and will cause damage to the HVAC system if not properly cleaned before use.
- Cracks in the drywall: after a house has been built, it can take a while for the home to settle, with cracks appearing that need to be repaired.
- Nailheads; nails can be pushed out of the drywall when the wood shrinks.
- Problem floors; water entering the building or simply lousy installation can cause uneven or damaged flooring.
- Incorrectly installed appliances: appliances are one of the last things to be fitted in new construction and could be poorly served in a rush to complete the home.
- Poorly fitted doors: if the doors have not been carefully installed, there could be gaps, or they might not even close correctly, and if this is an outside door, it could be costly to fix.
- Window fittings: windows that have not been installed well could lead to drafts and aren’t going to be cheap to repair.
- Dents in the vinyl siding or garage doors. This is a common defect found in many new homes.
Get Issues Taken Care of Before Closing
These are just some of the potential problems a home inspection for new construction could uncover. Though the downside to a home inspection is the cost at a time when your finances are unlikely to be in the best shape, not having a home inspection could end up costing you more.
Even if you have a warranty from the builder, it will be better to get these things taken care of early on. This will prevent these problems from gradually causing unnecessary damage to the home. You could put your faith in your warranty, but then you’ll have to hope that the damage is fully covered under the terms of the contract.
Sometimes seemingly minor issues, like a fine crack in the driveway, could lead to a bigger problem. This sort of damage could allow water to get into the cement, and if it freezes, it can increase the size of cracks leading to an expensive repair bill.
You’ll also have the hassle of dealing with getting quotes and the inconvenience of contractors on your property. This could create safety and privacy concerns if it happens when you live in the home. Better to deal with these issues before you even move in.
What are the Downsides to Getting a New Home Inspection?
When you consider potential downsides to getting a home inspection for new construction, there’s only one; the cost.
While the expense of getting a home inspection isn’t that large compared to the new construction cost, it can be challenging to find extra funds. Often buying a home, whether new construction or not, pushes people’s finances to their limit.
Even though a new construction home inspection might only cost $400-$500 if you have put all your finances towards the home, you might not have much to spare. When moving into a new home, you’re likely to have many uses for any spare money you have available, so it can be tempting to avoid this expense.
However, it isn’t worth the risk unless you have been very involved in the construction process and are confident you would have noticed problems. Most buyers will not have a detailed knowledge of the construction, so getting a home inspection provides an added level of protection.
Also consider this, oftentimes the cost of an inspection is much cheaper than the repair bill of just one deficiency which isn’t discovered and repaired before closing.
Even if you get a home inspection and nothing is wrong with a property, it isn’t a waste as it will reassure you the home is in the condition it should be. That isn’t a bad thing when you are probably making the most significant investment of your life.
When is the Best Time to Get Your New Construction Inspected?
The perfect time to have a home inspection is when all the work is finished, and the builder is ready to get an occupancy permit. Generally this happens within a week of your scheduled closing.
It makes sense to conduct the home inspection process when all of the work is complete. Otherwise, the home inspector won’t know if the final items are adequately done or not.
You should look to schedule the final inspection as soon as construction is completed and after any final approvals have been carried out. But you don’t want to leave it too late. Otherwise, it could delay closing.
Your builder should not have any issues with you requesting a home inspection. If they do, it could indicate some problems with the property they don’t want you to know about.
Builders Typically Fix Any Requested Deficiencies
You would expect reliable builders to stand by the quality of their work, so if they have a problem with a home inspection, this isn’t a good sign.
Having a home inspector go over the property before closing makes sure the responsibility for repairs goes directly to the builder.
The builder should want to stand by the quality of their work and so will want to make sure their customers are kept happy.
You Should Be Getting a Builders Warranty
With new construction, there should be a home warranty provided. It is commonplace to have a one-year warranty on all the major systems in the property. Some more prominent national builders may give a more extended warranty than a year.
Some parts of the home may be warrantied for less than a year. For example, some builders may only warranty foundation cracks, settling issues, or painting-related problems for less than a year.
If something is missed at the time of your building inspection, the warranty should ensure the builder will come back to fix the problem. Understanding the builder’s warranty is one of the many questions to ask a home builder before signing a contract with them.
It is also a good idea to get an inspection before your warranty period expires. This will help you identify any potential problems and provide documentation of them to take to the builder when requesting repairs.
When scheduling your pre closing inspection ask the inspector about bundling a warranty inspection to potentially save money.