Being able to build your new home is an exciting opportunity. You get to customize floor plans, design elements, and technological features, essentially creating the home you’ve always dreamed of. In the midst of all of this excitement, however, are the many challenges that come with building a new home. Obstacles can come up during almost any part of the process, but one obstacle many people may not consider is needing to perform inspections.
When you buy a home that’s been around for decades, or even just a few years, it’s a common practice to have an inspection done before you close the deal. Inspections can help you spot issues that crop up over the years and you can use that information to evaluate whether you want to go through with the purchase.
With a newly built home that hasn’t had to endure years of wear and tear, is an inspection necessary? In short, the answer is yes. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why you need to do an inspection after you build your new home and what exactly inspections for new constructions look like.
What Exactly Is a Home Inspection?
A home inspection is a third-party evaluation of a home’s systems, structure, appliances, and other major features. Although home inspections are optional prior to signing the paperwork for a home and moving in, real estate agents and other housing professionals almost always recommend that homeowners get them. During an inspection, the inspector will evaluate your property and give you a report on their findings.
If their report shows that there are any issues with your home, you can then go to the home builders or sellers and have them fix the problems before you close on the home. This opportunity to fix any problems is important in ensuring that you’ll be living in a safe, hazard-free property. Inspections also help ensure that you’re making a good investment and that you won’t be stuck with making repairs right after you move in.
All of these benefits of getting a home inspection make it important that you do so, even if you’ve been working with the builders throughout the process and trust their work. Mistakes can happen and certain regulations can be overlooked. Having a professional inspector check out the space as you build your new home will help keep your builders accountable for their work and will give you the safest home possible.
What Areas Do Home Inspectors Look At?
Whether a home was built within the last year or the last century, home inspectors tend to focus on the same areas. These are the areas that most heavily impact the structural stability of your home and the areas that can make or break your long-term safety and comfort in the home. Here are the hot spots that home inspectors most often find issues in:
Basements and Crawlspaces
The basements and crawlspace in a home are prone to a variety of issues that can put the health and safety of your family members at risk. One of the most common problems in these areas is mildew stains and odors. Sometimes signs of mildew are relatively harmless, but other times they can indicate that there is black mold, which can have serious effects on your health.
To prevent mold and mildew, your basement or crawlspace needs to be able to keep moisture levels under control. Not only can moisture prompt mold to grow, but it can deteriorate building materials and attract insects.
For these reasons, home inspectors will often check to see if your basement or crawlspace is properly protected from moisture and water damage. One of the best ways to protect your basement or crawlspace from these soggy issues when you build your new home is to point the drainage downspouts from your gutters away from the house. If they’re directed at your home, water can easily seep into your basement and foundation. You’ll also want to be sure that your buried drainage lines are properly installed so that they won’t have clogging issues that can cause problems with the water flow.
You can also control moisture levels in your basement or crawlspace by focusing on the ventilation in the space. Be sure that there is good airflow and that you invest in a dehumidifier if you live in a particularly humid area and think that your basement will be prone to moisture issues. As you build your new home, you can also ask your builders about foundation coatings that help protect your home’s foundation against water issues.
Roofs and Chimneys
The roof is a major part of a home inspection, largely because it is a major part of your home. Your home’s roofing has the important job of sheltering the interior of your home from natural elements. If it has structural issues, there is a danger of it compromising the rest of your home’s structure as well as your family’s safety.
In general, you won’t have too many issues with the roof when you build your new home. Roofing issues tend to appear over the years as the shingles experience wear from weather and components beneath the shingles become moist or rotted from precipitation. However, you’ll want to be sure that your new roof installation was done properly. If the roofers didn’t go through each and every step of installing the deck, frame, shingles, and other various components, there is a risk that you’ll experience the aforementioned roofing issues sooner than you would like. You’d then have to pay for repairs, which can be rather costly.
When you have your roof installed, you can ask the roofing contractors about the process they’re following and any safeguards they can put in place to protect against moisture or other structural issues. If your roof has a chimney, you’ll need to pay extra attention to that feature. The flashing around the base of the chimney should be watertight and the mortar and bricks should be in top condition. Keep in mind that an inspector will also check out the connected fireplace, so all of the elements there will need to be perfectly installed as well.
Heating and Cooling Systems
While much of the home inspection will focus on the major structures of your home, the inspector will also take the time to look at the important systems in your home, such as the heating and cooling system. Your system for heating and air conditioning should function properly as well as work efficiently. The system consists of your heating and cooling units, the ductwork that allows the air to flow throughout the home, and the thermostats in your home.
If these components don’t work properly, you run the risk of discovering issues when you try to heat or cool your home and then having to fix the issues then. As you probably turned on the system because you needed heated or cooled air immediately, having to wait for someone to fix it will leave your family in unsuitable temperatures. To prevent these problems from cropping up at the most inconvenient time, have a professional HVAC contractor install the system correctly when you build your new home. You’ll also want to ensure the system is efficient for the sake of the environment as well as your utility bills.
Common Issues Inspectors Find In New Homes
Within these areas of the home, inspectors tend to find the same issues in new homes. When you build your new home, be aware of these common issues so that you can prevent or fix them before the inspector comes.
- Plumbing issues, such as improper piping, leaks, and reversed hot and cold water in faucets
- Structural defects, such as poor framing, foundation cracks, and improper grading
- Electrical problems, such as missing switch plates, open grounds, and improperly wired outlets
- HVAC issues, such as loose connections and malfunctioning thermostats
- Drainage and grading issues that could cause water and structural damage in the future
- Window leaks
Although inspectors are primarily focused on your home’s interior and exterior, they will sometimes evaluate other elements on your property. One of the most common inspection issues inspectors find on the property is the fencing. If you just had fence installation services put a fence up around your property, you won’t face issues of damages or wear. However, some towns have regulations surrounding the materials with which you can build a fence, how tall the fence can be, and how close the fence can be to your property line.
If an inspector finds issues with any of these aspects of your property’s fence, you’ll need to contact a fencing company to fix the problem. While it may take a bit of time — and money — to take down the fence and install it again, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that a nosy neighbor or surprise inspector won’t find fault with your fence later down the road. Other elements of your property that an inspector may look at include sheds, decks, patios, garages, walkways, and driveways.
Another common issue inspectors find in newly built homes is that there are incomplete projects in the home. This means that there are instances of issues like missing pieces of hardware, half-installed fixtures or handrails, or insufficient installation. Incomplete projects are a fairly common issue in newly built homes, as builders are juggling a lot of different projects and may cut corners to get everything done more quickly. Other times, they may simply forget about a project that they started. Before an inspector visits your home, go down the project checklist with your builder to ensure that everything has been done to completion.
What Is the Inspection Process for New Homes?
New construction homes typically need two or three inspections on the property. These inspections are done at different points when you build your new home, ensuring that you stay up to code throughout the building process and don’t have to backtrack to fix issues.
The first inspection is known as the foundation or pre-pour inspection. As the name implies, this inspection occurs just before the foundation is poured on the home. The purpose of this inspection is to ensure that the site was excavated and graded properly and that the anchors and footing are adequately spaced and in place. Essentially, it guarantees that the foundation will give you a strong and long-lasting home. If the inspector finds issues now, your builder can more easily go back to make adjustments before pouring the foundation, after which there is not much possibility of going back.
The second inspection is called the framing or pre-drywall/sheetrock inspection. This inspection happens after the entire frame for the home has been built, the roof has been put on, and the windows are installed, but before the sheetrock and walls are up. By having an inspection at this stage, the inspector can ensure the beams, posts, studs, and other structural elements are properly installed. They can also check out the components of your home that are typically hidden behind the walls, such as the wiring and plumbing. If the inspector finds issues with the home’s exterior, your builder can work with a siding contractor or they can address any problems with the structure’s framing. It would be much easier to fix issues with the structure before you put up walls and go further with the project.
The third inspection is the typical inspection that you would have on any resale property. It helps ensure that the home is safe for your family to live in and that it is up to local code and building standards. If the inspector finds any issues during this final inspection, you can have your builder remedy the problems before you close on the property.
If you decide to skip home inspections when you build your new home, ensure that the builder has a warranty in place. Warranties usually last about a year and can protect you in the event something goes wrong after you’ve closed.
Getting these inspections is important for any homeowner who builds a new home. They allow you to catch problems before you move in and have to re-do a massive amount of work in order to fix just one issue. By catching issues now, your builder can fix them and you won’t have to pay someone else to fix them for you. Be proactive about the state of your property by having a professional perform a home inspection when you build your new home.