Buying a new construction home is exciting. You get to choose your colors, your cabinets and all of those nice little personal touches that you might not necessarily get right away when buying an older home. You get to move in to a nice new and clean home made just for you.
There is a common misconception when it comes to buying new construction and that is that you do not need a third party home inspection prior to closing. On the contrary, obtaining a professional home inspection on a new construction home is one of the smartest things you can do. But you ask yourself, why would I need a home inspection on a brand new home? After all, don’t the city code inspectors inspect the home? The answer is, yes and no.
Depending on the locale of your home, depends on how thoroughly it gets inspected by the city inspectors. In most cases, there are only one or two city inspectors that cover the entire county. With new homes going up at record pace, there could be literally thousands of homes that need to be inspected in any given area. The truth of the matter is, that there is no way one or two inspectors can cover that many homes in the time period given. This then leads to the “drive by” inspection. Is the home still standing? Ok, it is good to go.
It is also important to realize that even if the home was thoroughly inspected by a city inspector (which is an unlikely event), there still could be some major issues that are present. Just because something meets code, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is correct or safe. Many building codes are set as a bare minimum standard and believe me when I say that the majority of home builders do not go above and beyond ANY code.
To add to the misconception, there are many home builders that actually discourage third party inspections. They may tell you something like, your home is under warranty for the first year. The home is brand new and was passed by the city inspector(s). You do not need a home inspection. We hear this from our clients ALL the time. The hard truth? The home builder doesn’t want you to get a home inspection because, there WILL be issues (there always is) and they do not want to spend any more time or money on your home after it is built. Our inspectors used to work for home builders so we know exactly how they operate. Your construction supervisor is typically your main point of contact and his main job is not to make sure you are happy with everything, his main responsibility is to schmooze you, play everything off as “that’s the way it’s supposed to be”. If he cannot make you believe him, he gets fired, plain and simple.
No home is perfect even brand new homes. Home builders are notorious for taking short cuts to get the home completed faster so they can line their pockets with your money. Some of the most common defects found during home inspections of new homes are:
- The grading around the home (home builders never compact the soil around the foundation as they are required).
- Siding defects (loose sections, improperly installed, already damaged).
- Roofing defects (improper installation, missing flashing, already damaged).
- Decks (improperly installed, missing lag bolts, missing ledger boards and flashing, missing guard rails).
- Electrical defects (outlets not working, improper GFCI placement, missing grounds).
- HVAC defects (drywall dust inside the furnace, improperly sized breaker(s) for the furnace or A/C).
- Concrete porches, patios and driveway (already cracked, spalling, improperly sloped, missing hand and or guard rails).
The list literally goes on and on.
Another common misconception when buying a new home is that you do not need a Realtor to represent you. This also is far from correct. The truth? Home builders have already factored a Realtors commission into the cost of your home. Yes, you read that right. The cost of your new home already has the Realtors commission built in. Hard truth? They don’t want you using a Realtor because that money that is already factored in to your purchase price will be an added bonus to them if you come in by yourself unrepresented. Having a Realtor representing you during a new build purchase will not cost you a dime so why wouldn’t you take that extra step to protect yourself?
This article was written not to bash new home builders but to educate. When purchasing ANY real estate, it is so important to practice your due diligence. It is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that you get what you are paying for. While this may mean spending an extra few hundred dollars during the transaction for a proper home inspection, the peace of mind you will have in doing so will be priceless.