Why Should I Have A New House Inspected?!

Why Should I Have a New House Inspected?


Many people mistakenly believe that they don't need an inspection on a new house. The misconception is understandable because as consumers we have been conditioned to believe that consumer products of all types will be delivered without defects. Unfortunately this is not true, especially in the new construction market.


Quality control programs in new construction vary widely in the field and many contractors do it by the seat of their pants if at all. Most builders require that their superintendents have only a Bachelors degree in any field, Accounting will do.  They usually get away with this because they have learned from experience what kind of mistakes are going to show up as a problem during the warranty period. As a result there are likely to be hidden defects that will show up later in the life of the house, after the builder warranty has expired.


Homeowners often encounter these problems after the first year or two not knowing they are related to construction error. For instance, brick veneer is installed on about 90% of the new houses built in this area. Most people do not realize that brick is not waterproof. To compensate for this, construction standards, including the building codes, require a drainage plane behind the brick along with flashing and weep holes that will guide any water that penetrates the brick, back to the outside.


Unfortunately I rarely see brick veneer installed with all of the required flashing. As a result water may enter the interior wall and ceiling space and cause all kinds of problems including damage to walls, ceilings and floors and issues with mold, mildew and fungus.


Again, most homeowners don't realize that the problems they see even 5 or 6 years after they move in are the result of code violations. It has also been my experience that a large percentage of the problems I find during the inspection of a 5 to 10 year old house are the result of builder errors.


What Are The Most Common Construction Defects?


Improper grading of the soil around the house resulting in wet moldy crawl spaces

Flashing missing from brick veneer

Improperly installed and adjusted safety equipment on garage door openers

Improperly installed appliances

Improperly installed attic ladders

Missing fire blocking

Improper wiring in the panel

Electrical wiring not properly secured and protected.

Loose electrical receptacles

HVAC ducts loose and blowing conditioned air into the crawl space or attic.

Structural deficiencies in the roof construction

The builder was required to have inspections performed by city inspectors, Won't This Protect Me?


Unfortunately the protection afford by the official inspection departments is limited. City inspectors are stretched very thin, they may perform 15-20 inspections a day and can only spend a few minutes at a construction site during a few visits at specific phases of construction.


Code enforcement is about as effective as speed enforcement is on our highways. Think about how many times have you been stopped for speeding compared to the number of times in your life you have exceeded the speed limit. Think about how many speed related accidents there are on the highways. Consider also that the builders know exactly when the code officials are going to show up and exactly what they will be looking for. Is it any wonder that new homes have problems?


New Home Inspection Requirements Have Begun For Homes Out of the City Limits.


On September 1, 2008, new homes and major remodeling home improvement projects will require a third-party home inspection.  The new home inspection requirements will require a minimum of three inspections for all homes built or remodeled in unincorporated areas or in cities that do not offer municipal inspections.  The Texas Residential Construction Commission has enacted the mandatory reviews.  All projects started after September 1, 2008 will be subject to the new requirements. 


Three Inspections Required:


1.  The foundation inspection must be conducted prior to the placement of concrete.

2.  The framing and mechanical systems inspection must be conducted prior to the placement of exterior wall insulation or interior wall coverings.

3.  The final inspection is performed when the home is complete.


The inspections will have to be completed by a third-party independent professional Texas Real Estate Commission inspector.    


There will be fines levied against builders and re-modelers that fail to have their projects inspected.


The Texas Residential Construction Commission has put together a list of Most Frequently Asked Questions about the program.  They have also added Contracted Inspections Instructions. 


What does the Foundation Inspection look for?


Compliance with engineered drawings Proper placement, support, sizing, and spacing of graded rebar Ensuring proper beam depth, width, and placement Vapor/moisture barrier placement check If drawings are not sealed by an engineer, then the foundation must comply with the building code.


What does the Framing, Mechanical inspection look for?


Electrical systems must be properly grounded

All connections in junction boxes

Proper gauge wiring is installed

Outlets spaced properly

Adequate access to machinery

Duct work should not be encumbered by other building materials

Ducts are installed to applicable building code

Roof is supported and sloped

Plumbing system should be reviewed


What does the final inspection certify?


Yard is graded properly for water flow

HVAC is in complete working order

HVAC exterior unit is located on a level surface

All air ducts free of obstruction

Doors and windows operate properly

Finish materials are properly installed

The flat work around home is free of any structural cracks

All roof cladding is installed to manufacturer's recommendations

Flashing is installed

Fixtures are correctly installed and working

All appliances are installed and working

There are no apparent safety issues.


This is not a complete list of everything the inspections cover.  The inspector must also verify the project meets the applicable building code.  You might hear some rumbling and grumbling from the contractors you know but the program is designed for the good of the consumer - you and me.  Three phase inspections are really very minimal to require for a residential structure.  The home builder I worked for required ten inspections before they would deliver a completed home to a new home owner.


Does it make you wonder what was required before the new program? 

Two inspections or maybe just one inspection to deliver a home.  At least now the Texas Residential Construction Commission has stepped up the requirements to protect home owners.  All homes built or remodeled must be inspected three times. Starting soon!   


Starting as of January, the good news is that builders are required to perform to the code requirements and knowing this can help you get the problems corrected. However, this will only happen if you have an inspector who knows construction and the codes.


When Hiring an Inspector For New Construction, What should I Look For?


First you need an inspector who has extensive experience in new construction along with the education necessary to under stand the building science behind the codes.


You also need an inspector who knows the codes and who is not afraid to use them. Believe it or many home inspectors are afraid to use the codes when documenting problems with new construction. Many are so afraid of the "C" word that they will ignore obvious problems related to code provisions because they are afraid you will hold them to a higher standard. They have been told this by so called experts. When interviewing an inspector ask them if they will report on code violations they may see and give references to the codes. If they say no, keep moving.


The fact is codes are the MINIMUM STANDARD FOR CONSTRUCTION adopted by many governmental bodies in this area. As an inspector I cannot provide you with the service you need without knowing these standards and providing you with references in the codes to back up my report. In addition to using references and citations from the building codes I will also provide references to industry standards and manufacturer installation instructions.   This additional information will puts you in a much stronger position when negotiating with the builder for repairs.  Bottom line, if a home inspector will not provide references to the building codes, manufactures installation instruction or other industry standards he is simply wasting your time and money.


What Will a New Construction Inspection Cost?


If you don't care what kind of inspection you get, you can find inspectors who will do just about any job for $200. Dig a little deeper and you can probably find an inspector for less than $200.


The inspection industry is covered up with unqualified inspectors who receive bogus "certification" from phony inspector mills and virtual associations. One association will let you take a free online exam, pay a fee and become a "Certified Master Inspector." There are documented cases of Jr. High School kids passing the test!


If you need to save a few bucks on the inspection of one of your biggest investments, just remember, Buyer Beware.  If you want a real inspection performed by a knowledgeable professional inspector, you are going to spend between $250 to $400 for most inspections. If your new house is really big, you'll pay even more.


Special Scheduling Consideration for New Consideration


Unless the new house you are purchasing already has a Certificate of Occupancy, scheduling an inspection on a house under construction can be difficult. All too often the builder will commit to a completion date which they will fail to meet. As a matter of fact they will commit to and fail to meet one deadline after another and before you know it you are pushed up to the closing date.


If you have an inspection scheduled and the builder gives you less 48 hours notice that they will not have the house ready, it is best to proceed with the inspection at the scheduled time and arranged for return visit by the inspector once the final power is turned on. You should ask the builder to reimburse you for the cost of the return visit.


I have performed inspections behind these so called builders' inspectors and new county required third-party inspectors and I have found numerous errors and omissions.  If you look closely, you will see that most Texas Home Builders have entered into agreements with large, out of town real estate inspection firms to perform all of their required inspections.  Sounds kind of fishylike kick-backs and having the inspector on the builder's payroll.  Whose interest do you think that inspector is looking out for, a home buyer he will never meet or the builder who is putting money in his back pocket?


See my Houston Home Inspection Client's Reviews for comments about issues I discovered with their new homes, one of which was cracks in the garage foundation which was completely omitted by the builder's third party inspector.  My client backed out of the deal, got her earnest money back fully and the builder has since filed for bankruptcy and went out of business.


Go look at some of ATEX Inspects LLC great customer reviews!


If you are buying a new home, contact us for an impartial, detailed and thorough home inspection.  ATEX Inspects LLC serves all of the greater Houston, Texas area with quality home and Commercial property inspection services. 


Contact us today before your new home construction begins at 281-216-1171 or by email at robert@atexinspects.com.