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HOME & BUILDING INSPECTORS & INSPECTION METHODS
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MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
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PIPING IN buildings, Clogs Leaks Types
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VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VISUAL PERCEPTION ERRORS
WATER ENTRY in buildings
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WINDOWS & DOORS
New home inspections & walkthroughs: advice on what to look for & how to inspect new construction. This article describes procedures for new home walkthrough inspections and suggests topics to examine closely during a home inspection of newly-constructed buildings.
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Going with my clients to a new home construction walkthrough. What should I look for? What are the items that are typically missed by the builders - - or are problematic right off the bat? Thanks for any advice – much appreciated.
Reply: what's the difference between a home inspection and a walk-through?
First, let's distinguish between a "walk-through" and a professional home inspection.
A Walk-Through Inspection is an inexpert and often hasty trip through a building made by a prospective new owner, usually 24 hours before going to the closing of a sale. This sort of inspection cannot find every significant defect in the home and probably it cannot even find most of them. What a walkthrough inspection can and should do is look for obvious trouble such as the following:
All of the substantive physical components of the building and its mechanical systems are usually included, inspected, operated, or where appropriate, tested.
The professional inspector, recognizing the kind of construction (stick framed, modular, panelized) and materials (poured concrete vs. concrete block foundation) knows to look for specific defects or problems associated with those construction methods and materials - or should.
The following are simply examples of how a professional inspector may have an eye for trouble that a normal home buyer or real estate agent will not::
Inspecting New Construction: where troubles lies in wait
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone. You will find additional depth and detail in articles at our website.
That said I have to explain that the question you asked is a bit broad for a simple email reply. It's as if I wrote to you and said I'm about to enter into a negotiation, could you please tell me everything I need to know?
Some time ago I wrote some material on new home inspections but I couldn't immediately put my hands on it today. I'll look further for that information, format it online if needed, and send you that for guidance and to invite your comment.
A more general answer is that indeed new home concerns are very different from older home inspection concerns in these regards:
Appliance, cabinets, doors, window defects: There may also be interior questions about what work remains: fixtures, cabinets, appliances; lesser (in terms of percent of property value) issues may arise and be discovered simply by running every plumbing fixture and appliance, opening and closing every window and door - just to discover what things were not finished, or don't work.
It can be a surprise to discover later that three windows don't stay up or don't latch - a too-late surprise now because nobody looked at them while the home was still under warranty or while the builder or seller was under obligation to deliver what was promised.
Roof & Site Drainage incomplete: often the builder's contract considers a home "complete" with no gutters and leaders installed, or with only rough site grading and no finish grading; a result can be a basement flood - perhaps not immediately, but rather as soon as soil clogs the footing drains (if there are any). I'd look for gutters, leaders, and for footing drains taken to daylight as examples of visual clues that are easy to spot.
Incomplete work: if the inspector sees indications that work at the property appears incomplete, s/he should give a notice similar to the one we quote here:
Mechanical systems defects: more subtle clues indicating important building defects need an expert: if I look at an oil fired heating appliance and see no test instrument hole in the flue vent connector I know that somebody "hooked it up" but no one has properly set up the system to run safely and economically. (OIL BURNER INSPECTION & REPAIR)
Settlement cracking: It is common for new houses to develop new shrinkage and settlement cracks in the first one or two years after construction--defects not present at an intial inspection. Such may raise questions that need review.
If the new homeowner has questions about indications of cracking, movement, or out of level building foundation, walls, ceilings, doors that stick, windows that jam or similar current or future defects or about maintaining the property s/he should call their home inspector before you commiting funds to a contractor. There should no additional fee for such follow-up questions and advice from a neutral professional can be invaluable.
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