April 24, 2017

The Importance of a 3rd Party Home Inspection for Your New Home

New Construction Home inspections

Save Time and Money

Don’t Let the Builder Do It For You.

Finding the right new home and then navigating the process to make your purchase is just step one. Until you move in, you will have many steps to take during the process from contract to closing.  It is probably your biggest investment ever. So, make sure it is built right.

I recommend a third part home inspection for every new home buyer. You may be able to pick out many deficiencies with your own eyes while doing your final walk through. However, identifying early, all deficiencies, especially items you may not be qualified to inspect, will eliminate much stress and visits from workers after you close escrow and move in.

A recent new home that I sold was first inspected by two of the buyers and myself along with the builder. We identified many deficiencies that were recorded by the builder.  I also planned for a 3rd party Home Inspector to inspect the home.   The 3rd party inspector uncovered 18 key items that were not identified by the buyer or builder.  Some items may have caused future damage to the home. The buyer would have to address these issues later, possibly after their home warranty through the builder expired.  This was one of the best home builders in the country.

Fortunately, the home buyer lived in the area and could make regular inspections. They could identify several incorrect installations of upgrades and finishes including wrong materials, poor workmanship, incorrect colors, incorrect installations or variations from the original floor plan.  The buyer reported our findings to the builder and all were remedied, many prior to the final walk through.

Another fortunate circumstance was the buyer was a cash purchaser and was living in a temporary rental until the home was completed. The home was not complete for several weeks after the original due date because deficiencies were pointed out to the builder and the “punch list was extensive”.   Since the buyer was flexible with the escrow closing date and terms as a cash buyer, there was little pressure for them to close escrow on the home and move-in.

The result was almost 100% of the items were addressed and corrected prior to the buyer escrow closing on the home and moving in.

If you are buying a new home and are financing the home or have set move dates you may not be in such a good position. So, diligence is necessary to eliminate as many early identified deficiencies and punch list items as possible prior to escrow closing on the home.  Don’t let the builder dictate everything to you.  By contract, the builder has the right to force you to close escrow if the home is “Substantially Complete” without completing the work on the final punch list prior to close of escrow.

When you are buying a new home the home builder will schedule a walk through with you to make your preliminary and final inspection and walk-through. The result will be to identify any issues with the home that are either incomplete or not to your satisfaction. It is also possible the upgrades you selected are either not installed properly or the wrong upgrades.   The result the builder wants is for you to accept the condition as complete or create a punch list of items that need to be completed. Typically, once a punch list is created, the builder will try to complete as much as possible prior to your escrow closing and possession.  They will ask you to close escrow on your home within a matter of days.

Unfortunately, not all the issues can be resolved in such a short period. So, if you are forced to close escrow and need to move in immediately thereafter, chances are you will have ongoing visits by construction personnel to complete the remaining items.

During the walk through you will have the chance to identify everything that is not to your satisfaction. Most new home buyers are just looking at cosmetic issues such as marks on the walls, scuffed trim, cleanliness and whether the upgrades they requested are correct.

My suggestion to all new home buyers that will benefit you and your purchase are:

  • If you are doing the inspection alone, check everything. Do not be rushed and make sure the builder writes everything down.
  • Take pictures yourself of any items you discover as incomplete or defective and give them to the builder as part of your punch list.
  • Open every drawer and cabinet. Make sure they operate correctly and examine inside for poor workmanship, water leaks and cleanliness.
  • Test all faucets, appliances, drain stops, door bells, toilets, heating and air conditioning equipment, entry doors and latches, window operation, condition of window screens, fireplace operation, hot and cold water and exterior of the home.
  • Bring someone with you. The more eyes looking at everything the better.
  • Challenge the builder when they say something is the way they do it.
  • Use a 3rd party professional Home inspector. They can test everything and report if it is in working order or whether it is not working within recommended tolerances including:
    • Heating and air-conditioning. Measurement of temperature performance and air flow
    • Hot water heaters
    • Water pressure within the home
    • Electric panel
    • Electric switches and outlets
    • Interior plumbing fixtures
    • Appliances
    • Attic inspection for incomplete work or defective work, i.e. improperly sealed ductwork, insulation, overflow drainage for the air conditioning system, unsealed roof penetrations, blocked ventilation and more
    • Roof inspection. Some inspectors use drones to survey the roof.
    • Window operation and condition of screens
    • Smoke and CO2 detector performance
    • Door and locks
    • Condition of exterior siding and caulking
    • Examine water shut off and all in-ground utility vaults
    • Condition of any concrete slabs and sidewalks
    • Garage door operation
    • Automated systems
    • And much more

A Few Sample Pictures from a New Home Inspection

It is best to attend the home inspection with the 3rd party inspector as the inspector will explain all the items identified to you as well as provide you with a detailed written report.  The reports usually are provided within a day and cost from approximately $350 to $600 depending on the size of the home.

The advantages of working with me as your “Buyer’s Agent” when buying your new construction home is I can assist on all walk-throughs as an extra pair of eyes.  I used to be on the builder side so I know what to look for and can protect your best interests.

Rob Pontarelli

Blog, Buyer Tips, Construction, Helpfull Guides and Links, The Buying Process