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Do I need a Home Inspection when Buying New Construction

Updated: Mar 1

August 31, 2022

Just because your home is new, that doesn't mean it's perfect. You might assume that a home inspection isn’t needed if the house is built from scratch and meet your needs. Would it be a waste of your time and money? That depends on how you look at it.

A home inspection can provide key insights into the home's construction, as well as a chance to prevent costly repairs later, even new houses have flaws.

What Is a Home Inspection? A home inspection is a third-party non-intrusive evaluation of a home’s structure, systems, and components. The inspector will evaluate your property and give you a written report on their findings. You can then go to the seller (in this case, the builder) to request fixing any issues before you close on the home.

Typical Issues Found in New Homes It would seem that new homes should be perfect, or close to it, but many have hidden issues. Some common problems found during new-construction home inspections include structural defects like foundation cracks, faulty grading, and poor framing.

Drainage and grading issues can be problems because they can cause water damage later. There may be window and roof leaks. There may be HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air-conditioning) issues, including thermostats that don't work or loose connections, bathroom vents that are not vented to the exterior, and improper venting of heating and water heating equipment.

Electrical problems, such as poorly wired outlets, open grounds, and missing switch plates, aren't unheard of. Nor are plumbing issues, such as reversed hot/cold in faucets, improper piping, leaks, and more.

Inspectors also often find projects that are not completed. These might include lacking insulation, handrails, or fixtures that are only partly installed, or even missing pieces of hardware.

You should have two inspections performed on the property.

The Framing Pre-drywall Inspection A framing or “pre-drywall/sheetrock” inspection happens after the frame has been built. The roof is on, and the windows are installed, but the sheetrock, siding, and walls haven't yet been completed.

The inspector can make sure that the beams, posts, studs, and other structural components are installed right. They can check things like the wiring, plumbing, window flashing, and other issues that will later be hidden behind walls. Your builder can repair them before going further with the project if any problems show up.

The Final Inspection The second inspection is the same as the one you would have performed on any resale property. It identifies unsafe conditions and proper operation of features and components. And It’s been finished per local building standards. Anything the inspector finds should also be repaired by your builder before closing.

What Home Inspectors Look For? Home inspectors look at many components in each stage. They'll also take local building practices into account, which can vary by city or county. Some items most inspectors will look at when they're evaluating a newly built home include drain, waste, and vent lines. They'll also look at water lines, plumbing, piping, trenches, soil, elevation, drainage, and grading.

The framing inspection looks at beams, bearings, and other framing items. It covers nails, screws, studs, and plates, as well as stairwells, leaks, water intrusion, and mold risks. It looks for problems with fire blocking and draft stopping, plumbing and wiring, and HVAC and ducting.

The final inspection is the most sweeping. It includes:

  • Roof, chimney, and gutters

  • Doors and windows

  • Exterior items, like walkways, driveways, sheds, decks, patios, and garages

  • Foundation, basements, and crawlspaces

  • HVAC systems, including the thermostat

  • Plumbing, toilets, sinks, and sump pumps

  • Electrical conductors, circuit breakers, meters, and panelboards

  • Attic, insulation, and ventilation

  • Appliances, such as dishwashers, disposals, ovens, microwaves, and sprinkler systems

Make sure your builder has a warranty in place that can protect you if something goes wrong after you’ve closed. These warranties often last from one to 10 years depending on state and local regulations.

In Summary New-construction home inspections allow you to get ahead of your home purchase. You can only inspect the home after the fact on a resale home. A well-timed inspection allows your builder to get to the bottom of any issues and fix them before the building goes any further.

Don’t judge a new home by its appearance. A new home may look perfect to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless below the surface. Calling in a qualified home inspector can ensure that you’re making the best decision.

By John Schuler J & H Home Inspections, LLC Located in Horry County, SC

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