What Would You Think At Final Walk Through If Landscaping Was Dead?

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

What would you think at final walk through if landscaping was dead?

We scheduled the walk through.  We went to the walk through.  The doors were unlocked by the builder for the walk through.

It was time for the grand presentation - the great reveal - of my clients' new house.  And we were there to inspect it!

Walking around the outside we were disappointed to see a 9' Holly Tree that was obviously dead.

The decorative grasses and small shrubs along the sidewalk leading to the front door were obviously dead.

In the back yard the lone Cherry Blossom tree had its small limbs easily break off and looked brown inside.  At the base I chipped off some loose bark to reveal what looked like a dead interior.  My pen went right inside!

Two things are supposed  to happen before planting is done:

1.  The soil here has a high clay content.  It is supposed  to be added to with good top soil and sand to break up the clay so it is more conducive to plantings.  Landscapers are supposed  to know all this!

2.  If it is really cold the builders are supposed  to wait for warmer weather.  In this case all the plantings were done during a really cold snap in February.

So, if you were buying a house to find that your landscaping was dead, what would you expect the supervisor to say?

Here we heard, "We do this all the time.  The plants always come back."

Not so sure!

My recommendation:  you never know what will be found on a new construction inspection!  Inside, outside, it doesn't matter.  You MUST have a good look at the property, and in some instances think ahead.  These clients thought ahead to spring, and wanted the guarantee that anything that did not "come back" was on schedule to be replaced!



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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560



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Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Dead is dead; obviously something wasn't done correctly!

Mar 26, 2017 01:16 PM #22
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Jay - I would say hold on. These plants are gone and the builder does not understand landscaping!

Mar 26, 2017 01:32 PM #23
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I have started including a sentence to cover dead decoration plants next to the house.

Mar 26, 2017 03:10 PM #24
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Alliance Real Estate - Minot - Minot, ND
Bob Timm, Broker Associate, Alliance Real Estate

I'd be writing an addendum before closing that they escrow money away to replace all the plants if they don't come to life in 3 months.

Mar 26, 2017 04:38 PM #25
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kat - any of many things!  Maybe planting when really cold and no rain since?

Grant - or the landscaper!  One hires hoping the sub knows what should be done!

William - if you advertise "custom landscaping" you should deliver!  Your sentence is a good one.

They are likely doing something just like that, Bob.

Mar 26, 2017 05:32 PM #26
Randy Mitchelson, APR
iPartnerMedia.com #goipm & Homeland Heroes Home Loans - Estero, FL
First Impressions are made at First Click

Put $1,000 in escrow for 6 months to protect the buyer and if the builder is indeed correct that the plants will bounce back they can get their money released.

Mar 26, 2017 10:56 PM #27
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That wouldn't be my end of it Randy, but my experience with the builder who built my home was that the contract was weighted so heavily toward the builder that an escrow of any monies was out of the question!

Mar 27, 2017 02:21 AM #28
Corinne Guest, Managing Broker
Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
The Best in Buyer Representation

It's very common for new plantings to die. I suppose you have to look at the contract but also see if there is a contract between town/village. Our commonly have builder responsible for first round of replacements, at least until subdivision is finished. Now living here, we have to replace any tree that dies if it was planted by the builders. CCR's have our information. It's not easy to keep up with everything these days!

Mar 27, 2017 05:39 AM #29
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Corrine - in this case there was a waiver to wait until spring to plant anything so this wouldn't happen! That waiver was ignored.

Mar 27, 2017 05:46 AM #30
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
AZuRE Team - Realty ONE Group - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

I would think that the property must be in the exact same condition as the day we wrote the contract. That's what our AZ contracts read. The final walk-through is a contingency in the contract and for closing. Everything else is BS.

Mar 27, 2017 07:36 AM #31
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

This reminds me of when an EP company offered to buy my white elephant of a house in north Tustin some 40 years ago. They were horrible to deal with all the way through the transaction, and my idiot of a husband had purchased $10,000 worth of indoor plants, mostly around our indoor pool. Half were already dead.

The EP company, just before closing, decided to squeeze us a little more and demanded 50% of the plants. You know which 50% I left behind.

Mar 27, 2017 08:09 AM #32
April Swenson
Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers - Ocean Shores, WA
CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate

I really hope the homebuilder/owner made this right and dug everything up and replanted.

Mar 27, 2017 08:38 AM #33
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

I'd get an addendum from the builder stating they they would replace any dead landscaping that didn't come back in the spring.  That's what is being paid for in addition to the house.

Mar 27, 2017 08:41 AM #34
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192
BuyersAgentPortland.com | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

I've has this type of thing in new construction as well.  There was a landscape addendum prepared and the builder had to guarantee the plantings for 90 days AFTER the last frost in the area.  My client purchased at the start of winter, and there as no telling in the new plantings were survive the winter.  It was a mild one, so it was fine.  But had it been this winter -- YIKES!   The other altnerative was to WAIT until 90 days AFTER the last freeze to plant.

Mar 27, 2017 12:28 PM #35
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The contract happened before the house was started Richard.  But the clients were informed of a spring waiver and did not expect to see plants at the walk through.  That the plants were dead was a slap in the noggin.

I'm thinking, Elizabeth.  I bet I know, but I'll chew on it a little bit!

That's the hope, April.  I expect things will be made right.

Mick - the selling materials made such a big deal of the "Custom Landscaping" that I expect no one thought an addendum was needed!

Carla - hence the spring waiver in this case, which was not adhered to!  My kingdom for warm planting weather!  Right about now would have been a much better time to do the planting!

Mar 27, 2017 07:16 PM #36
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

If the builder was really on top of the situation they would have written into the contract that they would come back when the weather permitted or given a credit at closing

Mar 27, 2017 07:40 PM #37
Matt Brady
Skyline Home Loans - Del Mar, CA
Lending With Competence And Character

Not something we have to deal with much in San Diego. Our cold snaps get down into the low 50s.

Mar 27, 2017 08:58 PM #38
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Ed - builders aren't that big on changing contracts but I expect there was an addendum of things to be done by closing and the landscaping would have been one of them.

I expect not, Matt!  But then around here we don't worry about whole neighborhoods burning down along with the landscaping, or mud slides washing it away!  We all have our chicken bones in the throat!

Mar 28, 2017 02:34 AM #39
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist

If the builder or landscaper is saying it will come back, I would want it in writing.  Great post and reminder, especially this time of the year.

Mar 29, 2017 12:43 PM #40
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's what I said, Karen!  Nobody would be willing to put that down on paper, but I think they did agree to come back when warmer.

There's a lot to replace!

Mar 29, 2017 01:49 PM #41
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