Last Saturday I was driving home from a morning condo inspection and tuned into The Home Boys radio show (autoplay audio) on 1340 WJRW. I say all the time that you can’t be too educated when it comes to buying or selling a home, so if you’re planning to do either, or are in a real estate related business you should definitely check out the show. They cover a wide range of topics and you just never know what could eventually apply to your unique situation.
During that particular show the subject of home inspection was discussed, and as you might imagine, my ears perked up a bit for the segment. They were talking about inspections as they apply to properties such as new construction homes and HOA maintained condos. To the host’s credit, he said you should always get an inspection. He also acknowledged that these types of properties are generally lower risk and understands when his clients would rather keep the process moving by foregoing the due diligence period. I inspect both types of homes so I decided to write this blog to offer my perspective.
I totally understand the temptation to skip the inspection and keep the ball rolling toward close, but doing so could cost you in the end. I will be the first to admit that new construction and HOA maintained condos typically have fewer defects than existing properties, however I have never (ever!) inspected a perfect home. They don’t exist. New homes typically come with a 1 year warranty, but it only covers defects if you find them. A good home inspector should always save you more than you pay for the inspection fee. Below you will see pictures of defects I’ve found on brand new, never lived in homes.
Torn Shingle – This will likely become a problem after the expiration of the 1 year warranty but well before the expected end of service for a new roof.
Cracked Vinyl Siding – First line of defense against moisture intrusion is compromised.
No Sealant at Bath Tub – This problem would probably first be noticed as a spot on the ceiling below. Sometime after the 1 year warranty expires you will need to tear out the tile to repair water damage.
Inoperable Toilet – This toilet most likely sat unused as the home was being finished – the flapper valve chain rusted through and broke.
Incomplete Kitchen Vent Connection – I don’t know what you store above your microwave, but I bet you don’t want it covered in cooking grease.
No Gas Line for Dryer – No problem if you have an electric dryer, but you might want to know before hauling your gas dryer up the stairs. Installing a gas line can get expensive!
Inadequate Water Flow – Could be any number of causes from a half opened valve to an improperly installed well. Let the builder figure it out BEFORE you move in!
Misaligned Strike Plate – Ok, this one is a freebie to fix if you already own a screwdriver, but I’m guessing home maintenance isn’t how you want to be spending a Saturday morning after you just bought a BRAND NEW home.
Many, if not all, of these problems will be covered by the builder at no cost to you. Why not get them taken care of before you move in? This will allow you to enjoy your new home instead of periodically opening it up to contractors for the first year. Furthermore, many of the defects won’t manifest as noticeable problems until your warranty is expired, and by that time they will be much more costly than any inspection fee. This is why I say that say that skipping your inspection on new construction is throwing away money!
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