New home shenanigans

Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Active Rain realtors and inspectors often talk about the problems found at new homes. The topic always revolves around whether or not new construction should be inspected. Periodically, I plan to post some photos of things I have found at newer homes. The photo below was a home that was one year old and had not previously been inspected. It was being sold after a man lived in it for only one year. It is too bad it had not been inspected, prior to closing the first time. It would have saved lots of trouble, and gritty work, by putting the problem back in the builder's lap. Here is the deal. This home had passed all of the city inspections, but then the sneakiness took place: To save on hauling fees, once the city inspector left the scene, they dumped much of the dirt that had been excavated from the crawl space back into the crawl space and then sealed everything up. Actually, they did this so completely that, a year later, to look in the crawl space we had to cut around the carpet just to get the hatch open. When I got down there, all the posts had dirt around them. The piers were buried. This is, by Washington State Law, a conducive condition to attracting wood destroying organisms and it must be cited, whether the wood is damaged or not. Even if it is treated lumber, this is not acceptable in a crawl space. Treated lumber will decay eventually and it is one thing to use it on a deck, yet another to use it to support the home, which was big -- a zero lot line home. That, by the way, brought up an interesting issue -- shared residences. The buyer decided to purchase the place, and get the dirt out before there was rot. However, she rightly so wondered if the unit next door was not in exactly the same condition (almost for sure it would be) and so much of the structure was shared that it made her wonder if she would have problems the result of the deficiency next door.



Thanks for reading,

Steven L. Smith


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Chuck Christensen
Your Financial Coach - Bellingham, WA
The Realtor obviously didn't try to help their clients before. But what about the builder. Can't he be sighted for doing this. We all have to put our trust in the builoders sometime. I did some remodeling once and found an outside wall to be missing insulation in about half the room. But I had lived their for 12 years. I was just replacing a window with a bigger one and now had to redue the inside sheetrock and put insulation in the wall. Not to mention the years of lost heat! And now what was a day job turned into 2 days.
May 23, 2007 03:53 PM #1
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


 I will not cast dispersions on builders, in that many of them try really hard. But there are many things I have found during inspections, that I think the builder knew about, and did not want others to know. The most common one that I see over and over is major standing water in the crawl space.  Another alarming trend, that makes an inspector nervous and have to be on his or her toes, is the number of builders who bluntly state: "I will fix the things the inspector calls out. If he does not call them, then consider the home done." I have been told that about a half dozen times. It is very weird because things we should be able to take for granted, are fair game for serious deficiencies. Can we figure they tried to hook the toilet to the drain? No! Can you figure that if you turn on a sink it will not leak on the floor? No!  We inspectors know mistakes will be made by subs, but to assume the builder does not care or expects us to find every single mistake made, enters a whole new realm. The problems I found in these houses included jacuzzi's that had zero wiring, heat ducts not connected (or even efforts made at connecting them), gas fireplaces that had no gas piping, sinks with no the water runs into the cabinet, gas dryers with no ducts so they are dispersing CO.  I think that a number of builders have the "buyer beware" attitude and it is too bad.


PS -- Chuck, I see you are in Bellingham. Nice to meet you, so to speak.

May 23, 2007 04:03 PM #2
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector

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