7 Inspection Tips for New Construction Homebuyers

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Chris Glew’s recommenations for buyers of New Construction Red Fin Blog include inspection a home “to make sure everything is safe and up to code.” However, new home buyers shouldn’t equate a code inspection with a quality construction inspection. Municipalities often do a competent job of ensuring safe construction (at least outside of China), so inspectors who focus on code compliance are really just double checking.

The areas of focus for a new home buyer should be quality of life issues such as waterproofing, soundproofing, mold as well as finishes and fixtures. Inspectors should:

  1. Check decks and planters in common areas as well as reviewing waterproofing measures taken in below-grade garages. At a recent insurance seminar I learned that water damage alone accounts for over 80% of homeowner association lawsuits.
  2. If the home is attached to others in a high-rise or town home, place a radio in one unit then listen in your unit. Pay particular attention to any place there is a penetration in a common wall to accommodate gas pipes, electrical outlets, etc. These fixtures can actually carry sound if not properly isolated from the adjoining unit.
  3. Check specific model numbers on appliances against those mentioned in your sales agreement and verify proper installation and that they are in good working order. Why should you need to deal with a warranty return.
  4. Check the finishes on all cabinets including hardware and wall attachment points. It’s often necessary to make accommodations to make cabinets fit, make sure their functionality hasn’t been compromised.
  5. Check the molding around the kitchen appliances for proper finish installation.
  6. Inspect finished walls from a distance of 5 feet. Look for paint blemishes, visible nail heads and poorly finished patches. Use a flood lamp if there is not a lot of natural light in the room.
  7. Check grout and caulking around bathroom especially in corners and around door tracks. Ensure that water drains properly from shower door tracks.
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