New Construction Home Inspections
17 Reasons Why New Construction Needs A Home Inspection
As a home inspector in the rapidly growing Puyallup, WA area, I inspect a lot of newly constructed homes, as well as houses that are approaching the end of their 12-month builder's warranty. The owners of these homes call for an inspection because they want an outside set of eyes to observe and report on the home in detail within the repair time-frame set forth by the builder.
Some may think that a new home does not need to be inspected because it has been "approved" through the construction permitting process. Well, I've got news for you: deficiencies are lingering in every home, old and new. Depending on the builder, the list of defects found in new homes can range from "Minor/DIY" to "Wait...you do this for a living?!".
1. They Missed A Spot (v1)
Exterior paint is often found to be missing from the ends of cut wood. Sometimes an area that should be painted is overlooked because a trim component was installed after the painters finished their work. Other times paint is inconsistent or has been over-sprayed. Paint is necessary to protect wood components from the elements.
2. The Disheartened Downspouts
A common practice when installing gutters on a two-story home is to allow the upper gutters to discharge rainwater onto a lower roof covering. This saves on the time and materials it would take to extend the upper-level downspouts to a lower level gutter, which comes at the expense of decreasing the life of the shingles.
3. Cracked Caulking
Caulking is frequently needed between siding and trim joints, as well as other wall penetrations like windows and door frames. Since the wood in new homes is still going through the drying process, these caulked joints tend to open within the first year of construction. Sometimes we will find an area they completely forgot to caulk. Caulking around windows, doors, and other connections helps prevent the entry of air, pests, and water.
4. Cover Those Fasteners
We find exposed fasteners on a new roof nearly as often as we find them on a seasoned roof; both of which should be covered with roofing tar or an adhesive. Contrary to popular belief, galvanized steel will eventually rust and expand, which allows moisture to seep in and around the exposed fastener.
5. They Missed A Spot (v2)
Grout that is lacking between stone veneer siding may not be very noticeable from a distance, but this close-up view shows how the grout was insufficiently covering the metal lath on this home. Is the missing grout going to make the wall fall apart? Unlikely. Is this type of inconsistency visually unappealing? Definitely!
6. Let's Give This Construction A Proper Grade
The grade of the ground around a home should direct water away from the foundation and should not allow water to flow towards or accumulate near the house. Saturated ground around a home will generally result in a wet basement or crawl space.
7. Downspout Disappointment
Downspouts for the gutters will commonly discharge into an underground drain system that disperses the water away from the home, but not always. The builder of this home forgot to install connections to the underground drain for 2 of the 6 downspouts, forcing them to discharge next to the foundation.
8. Flashing = Long-Lasting
Flashing is sometimes missing from a horizontal wood component or another wall penetration. Flashing is a thin piece of metal that directs water over a component or around an opening through the wall so that moisture does not enter a void or damage an area. Places that are missing flashing must rely on the frequent application of caulking.
9. Shingles of Shame
Shingle damage on new construction might not be expected, but it is fairly common and very disappointing to find. This may be caused by a worker walking on a hot roof during the summer or by a specific event during the construction. Either way, a damaged roof shingle decreases the effectiveness of the roof covering and increases the likelihood of a leak.
10. Cracked But Intact
Interior cracks on walls, ceilings, and other joints are common and should be expected with new construction. They are often caused by the shrinking of wood materials as they dry out, expected soil movement, and normal expansion and contraction of the home. Builders know that most of these cracks develop within the first year and typically will have the owner wait until the end of their 12 month warranty to repair them.
11. Caulk The Gap
The sealant between the top of an under-mounted sink and the bottom of a stone countertop is frequently missing or inadequate. Sealing this joint is needed to prevent leaks that can occur when water gets between the two components.
12. They Missed A Spot (v3)
Missing interior paint is a cosmetic issue but an inconsistency that will drive many people nuts. We find that the cut ends of trim, the tops of doors, and the bottoms of window ledges are regularly lacking in the paint department.
13. Disconnected Duct
Ducts in the attic can easily become disconnected after little use when they are not properly secured to the appliance vent they should connect to. This allows moist air from the interior of the home to collect in the attic, which can result in mold and wood rot.
14. Too High For Safety
Photo eye sensors, an important safety feature for a garage door opener, are sometimes too high above the ground and are not installed according to modern safety standards. The photo eye sensors must see each other for the opener to lower the door to the closed position, verifying that the door will not close on an object. Sensors that are placed too high above the garage floor may not detect a crawling child or small animal that might be below the photo eye sensors. These should not be installed higher than 6" above the floor.
15. Trashy Crawl Space
Left over debris is frequently observed in the crawl space from the home's initial construction. This includes wood scraps, cardboard boxes, and any other material that does not provide aid to the home. Insects and rodents love crawl spaces with conducive debris because they provide food and shelter.
16. A Passage For Vapor
A vapor barrier should be covering the entire ground of a crawl space. Insufficient coverage of this plastic barrier can allow moisture to migrate from the exposed dirt and enter the living space via the stack effect.
17. Water Spotter
Crawl spaces should never have standing water present, yet we find water under new homes all too often. A proper grade around a home is vital when it comes to managing moisture in a crawl space. Even with the correct grade, water may still end up under a home, depending on the season. Installing a sump pump is sometimes required to move the water collecting in a crawl space away from the home so that mold and rot do not transpire. Some standing water is caused by plumbing leaks, which of course should be addressed immediately.