New Construction, No Inspection Needed, New Home Tells All

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

I have inspected many newly constructed homes through out my career. A recurring theme that I hear from the time I get the phone call at least until the inspection starts is;

"It's a new house and has been inspected by the city, what could be wrong?"

Yes indeed what could be wrong when builders are untrained and everyone is hurrying to finish the job and the city inspector only has 10 minutes to check the structure. Let's take a look at one house beginning in the garage.

 

This is known as green construction. The garage door won't go up completely thus forcing the homeowner to buy a small hybrid so they can park their car in the garage. You can see a main support column in the center of this picture.

The second photo is a close up of the base of this column. It has been installed on top of the floor slab and is not anchored in place. This was re-inspected by the town inspector after the home inspection and said to be fine. It's not. The buyer had to call the inspectors boss who finally stated, that yes it must be anchored.

 

Decks are a great feature on a home, but too often they are not constructed correctly. The first photo is one of the support piers for the deck. It has been shimmed to level the pier, but more importantly it is not anchored to the base. Is there a recurring theme here?

The second photo is a tribute to the nail gun. This is a main support for the decks railings. Instead of bolting the baluster support it is better to use a bunch of nails. This and several other supports were so weak they could be easily rocked back and forth about two feet.

These were not the only issues with the deck, just the worst. So let's move onto the interior.

 

 

This photo of the living room windows might not seem unusual, but there is a problem. As is apparent the windows are very close to the floor. When a window is within 18 inches of the floor it must be tempered glass. The way to tell if the glass is in fact tempered is by a decal or etching in the glass usually in the lower corner of window. The second photo shows such a label.

Leaky plumbing is not something that would be expected to be found in a new home. Especially because

 

 

 

 

it should have been pressure tested. None the less the next group of photos shows two waste pipe leaks that were found in the basement. How anyone would not see leaks this large, as can be seen in the bottom two pictures, is baffling.

Moving on to the heating system the next photo set shows more problems that were discovered. The main flue pipe for both the furnace and water heater is not sealed where it enters the chimney. The second picture shows the furnace to flue pipe connection. Soot stains and deposits from the flue are very evident indicating at minimum a leak and possibly system tuning and venting adjustments are required.

Remember that recurring theme? Here's a slight variation. The first picture is one of the homes main structural support beams in the foundation pocket made to accept the support. Notice the shim under the beam. Notice the space between the shim and the beam. See how the shim can be easily removed from the pocket.

 

 

Support! We don't need no stinking support!

The other end of the beam was similarly shimmed. The support columns for the beam were put in the same as the garage.

To finish off here is a list of other defects discovered in this newly constructed house during the inspection.

 

  1.  

     

    The attic was under insulated. R - 38 is required, R - 30 was installed
  2. Tempered glass missing from stairway windows
  3. Insulation installed in the wrong walls
  4. Missing extension on water heater TPR valve
  5. Loose and uneven stairs in garage leading into house
  6. Missing GFCI outlets
  7. Dishwasher not operable due to incorrect installation
  8. Tie rods in foundation not sealed, water leaking through
  9. The A/C compressor was 4 years old.

Do new homes need to have a home inspection? I believe the house speaks for it self.

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Rainmaker
394,638
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Oh my goodness. What a mess! I ALWAYS recommend a home inspection for new construction. I have heard the "Why? It's been inspected by the city" comment more than I care to hear. 

This is a great post and I will save it, to forward to clients when I hear that line again!  Thanks for sharing such valuable information.

Jun 13, 2008 03:36 AM #1
Rainmaker
343,402
Laura Sellers
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Preferred Real Estate, Inc.; www.AuburnOpelikaALRealEstate.com - Auburn, AL
www.AuburnOpelikaALRealEstate.com

James:  Thanks for sharing.  I ALWAYS recommend inspections on homes regardless of the age.  Mistakes are made as you have shown us even on new construction.

Jun 13, 2008 03:56 AM #2
Ambassador
1,306,499
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

James, seems like a lot of folks were asleep at the wheel on this one.

Jun 13, 2008 11:16 AM #3
Rainmaker
179,754
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Kind of makes you wonder what the code inspector was thinking.  Nice inspection.

Jun 13, 2008 01:43 PM #4
Rainmaker
679,885
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Elizabeth and Laura, Good to hear you recommend inspection on new homes. As demonstrated it makes good sense, you just never know.

Charles, Asleep! They never got out of bed! As I recall you are an ex-Connecticut resident and builder. I'm sure you've seen this kind of thing all to often. You should have a good knowledge of how some of the town inspectors operate as well.

Jack, The town inspector wasn't thinking.

Jun 14, 2008 06:59 AM #5
Ambassador
1,306,499
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Yup, I know all too well how these things can happen.  As a builder I have gotten "drive-by. ok-to-cover" inspections more than once.  They are just too busy to do real inspections in many jurisdictions.

Jun 14, 2008 08:00 AM #6
Rainmaker
66,966
Kevin Corsa
H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties) - Canton, OH
H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector

Great post James. I too do a lot of new home inspections, and 3 phase construction inspections, and it never fails to amaze me what I find. There are just so many builders out there these days that are cutting corners where they can, and hiring inexperienced sub-contractors, or in some cases even illegals to build their houses for them. Home inspectors are just about the only ones who are looking out for the best interest of the buyer/new home owner. Everyone else is either too busy, or doesn't care. Having worked for a large builder, I am well aware of the things being done out there.

One of the most appalling things, is the way many builders address a problem, or a mistake during construction. Sometimes they just ignore them, or try to get the homeowner to just "accept" them. Other times, they will offer to take money off the final bill, throw in an 'extra", or do a repair that is less than adequate. I have seen all of the above, as well as some attempts to just cover up mistakes with drywall or finish material before they get "discovered". I am not saying that all builders are bad, but there is a fair amount out there that must be checked up on to keep them honest.

Jun 14, 2008 11:51 PM #7
Rainmaker
679,885
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hi Kevin,

Like Charles you have an inside knowledge of how the system operates. Unfortunately you and I are preaching to the choir. Home buyers often do not understand the value of phase inspections. All they see are $$$ signs. By the time they realize we weren't just selling something, it's too late. Now they are stuck with the problems.

Jun 15, 2008 12:14 AM #8
Rainer
9,227
J. Brandon Roberts
Reveal Property Inspections - Clarksville, TN

The majority of my inspections are 1-year builder's warranty inspections.  I see this crap everyday.  There is one builder in my area that I have found 3 of his houses that did not have plumbing under the master bath.  Everytime they drained their tub for the entire year, their crawlspaces were flooding.  Not the best circumstances to have in your new home. 

I tell people that the most common mistake that people can make is to assume that "new" means "defect free". I'm glad that I'm not the only one who sees this stuff.  But it is just sad that someone had to have stepped back from this crappy job and said, "Yep, that looks good to me!".

I love being a home inspector!

Jun 20, 2008 10:44 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,235,755
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

Funny, just a few minutes ago I was contacted by a new home buyer who wants their home inspected. You are sure right about the number of things that are likely to be found. If not the fault of the builder, then the fault of the subs.

Jul 20, 2008 05:38 PM #10
Rainmaker
679,885
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Steven,

The builders do not often inspect the work of the subs. They are too busy to take the time. Home inspectors almost always have greater knowledge and could be utilized as quality control by the builder. Unfortunately that does not happen.

Jul 20, 2008 11:12 PM #11
Rainer
7,681
Charlie Hamilton
Suncrest Homes - Ashland, OR
Suncrest Homes, Custom Home Builder - Southern Oregon

James,

 

As a builder I never mind another set of eyes on our work. I take it as a challenge to see how small we can make your list. We have always worked well with our local home inspectors, occasionally we find we have to bring out the code book to clarify an issue but this is the exception and not the rule by a long shot.

Feb 28, 2009 08:54 AM #12
Rainmaker
679,885
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie,

Unfortunately not everyone takes the care or has the experience that you do. This is why a home inspection should be done even on a new home. Some I have almost nothing wrong and others as you can see are quite the opposite. You can't tell unless you look at the house.

Mar 01, 2009 01:42 AM #13
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James Quarello

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