Is it necessary to get a home inspection on a newly constructed home?

Home Inspector with Accurate Home Inspections of America, LLC
Having inspected numerous new homes, I have found that all new homes have defects of one kind or another, regardless of the quality of construction or the integrity of the builder. This is because human imperfection prevents anything as large and as complex as a home from being constructed flawlessly.

A commonly held fallacy is that all construction defects will be discovered by municipal building inspectors. This is incorrect, but not because of professional shortcomings on the part of those inspectors. The purpose, scope, time allotment and procedures for municipal inspections are not the same as for home inspections.

Municipal inspectors inspect primarily for code compliance, not for quality of workmanship. They can cite a builder for improper structural framing or for noncomplying drain connections, but a poorly fitted door, an uneven tile countertop and slipshod finish work are not included in the list of concerns.

Municipal inspectors rarely inspect an attic or a crawl space. They come to the job site with a clipboard and a codebook, not with a ladder and overalls. Construction defects in such areas can escape discovery.

Municipal inspectors typically inspect a roof from the ground or possibly from the builder's ladder. From these perspectives, roof defects are not always apparent. And final inspections are performed before the utilities are turned on, so municipal inspectors cannot determine if or how well the appliances and fixtures truly work. They don't test outlets for ground and polarity because this can be done only after the power supply is turned on. Nor, without power, can they test the performance of GFCI or AFCI safety breakers.

The lack of utilities also prevents the testing of plumbing fixtures such as sinks, showers, tubs and dishwashers, and of gas fixtures such as furnaces, fireplaces and water heaters.

When buying a new construction home, you should not forego the benefits of a thorough home inspection.

Comments (8)

Vincent McKamy
Samson Properties - Fredericksburg, VA
Realtor Fredericksburg Virginia

I think home inspections should be done on all houses.  I think this is just like buying a car - you would still test drive a new one before you bought it - why wouldn't you inspect a new home before buying it. 

Thanks for the posting

Dec 19, 2007 10:56 PM
Angela Shadduck
Coldwell Banker John Moffitt - Blue Springs, MO

As a new home sales professional I welcome any well qualified home inspector on any of our sites-- the problem is that home inspectors are not licensed and there are no regulations on opening up a home inspection company.

I have seen my share of "home inspectors" that have no business being on the job site. Until the profession is better regulated and controlled- I would not risk a deal by allowing an uneducated inspector who feels the need to justify the $500 fee that they charged to make up or blow things completely out of proportion. Now before you get out of shape, I am talking about failing a home because we did not caulk the quarter round to the floor of a bathroom or caulk the base of the toliet. They actually said that the toliet would leak if it wasn't caulked!

You have to realize that building a home is an emotional time and you are dealing with people who in some situations are unstable, in that situation- her husband died in the middle of construction- and this caulking almost prevented her from closing on the home.

I am all in favor of protecting the consumer, but you need to realize how bad some inspectors are and how irrational some homeowners are and that is a lot of burden to put on an a honest homebuilder. I recommend to consumers instead of getting a home inspector after the home is built, inspect an existing home that they have under construction and get references from past clients. It is not possible as you say to have a perfect home, but if they did a good job, have a good reputation, and stand behind their work then the consumer shouldn't have any problems.

Dec 20, 2007 08:38 AM
Rick Bunzel
Pacific Crest Inspections - Anacortes, WA

Out of the hundreds of new constructed home I have inspected, I have only found ONE that had no issues. It was a spec home by a well regarded local builder who came at the end of the inspection to personal hear if there were any issues. It was obvious that he cared about the home he built. For the majority of the others it wasn't very hard to find issues. For example at the last one, a DR Horton, the super tried to tell me that a tile counter that was sagging 1/4" was within spec. I noticed it as soon as I walked into the kitchen and spoke to one of the workers who said that it was sagging bad because they used OSB instead of plywood. That was one of a dozen issues that I found. I left it up to the client and REALTOR to negotiate a fix. 

Here are some pictures of things we have found


As I always tell clients, your spending an incredible amount of money, why wouldn't you want to know about any issues in your new home?




Rick Bunzel 
Pacific Crest Inspections

Affiliate of the Year 2006-2007
Fax 360-588-6965

Toll Free 866-618-7764

Dec 20, 2007 09:01 AM
Richard Ross
Accurate Home Inspections of America, LLC - Cape Coral, FL

The role of a Home Inspector is not to simply point out defects, but to educate and inform. Many buyers will be first time home owners and will not have experience operating a home. We talk to the home buyer about maintaining the HVAC system and other items including safety. Many home owners have expensive repairs because they think as long as the HVAC is running……not a problem! I personally provide a free DVD and Home Maintenance manual on every home inspection which helps the home owner cut down on future repairs and maintain the value of their investment.

Home Inspectors are also looking for cause and affect issues in the way the home is designed and built which may not be considered when on the drawing board. As an example, two roof lines coming together at the roof edge causing a large quantity of water to flow on the roof of the garage below. The added flow of water being directed on the roof below would cause the shingle granules to be washed away prematurely, exposing the substrate of the shingle to ultraviolet sunlight and causing the shingles to fail earlier than warranted. The recommendation would be to simply add gutters as an improvement and not as a defect. The buyer has been informed and he can decide after he moves in. Are there bad home inspectors? Probably and it’s no different than any other trade. Remember, the builder isn’t building the home, the contractors he hires does the actual work.

Dec 20, 2007 09:52 AM
Angela Shadduck
Coldwell Banker John Moffitt - Blue Springs, MO

I just had one additional commit, you said that it ws sagging because it was OSB instead of Plywood- and that was a problem??? OSB is more stable than plywood last time I looked. Plywood warps much more. If it was sagging it was not braced properly or was not thick enough to support the weight of the tile. That worker shouldn't be giving opinions that he doesn't understand. OSB is typically used to replace plywood and has better results.

 It is straighter and because it is formed doesn't have the natural problems that you have see with many plywoods. As with any products, they do need to be used to spec to be effective. This is part of the problems that I have with inspectors, they rush to make snap decisions like OSB is bad- when the problem is not that OSB is bad, but the product was not thick enought to support the weight of the cement backer board plus the tile that was installed. If you are going to give information as a professional-- then you need to be informed.

 I have problems with builders in the industry that don't know what they are doing as well. I just think that if you are a professional that you ought to know about your field and spend time to learn the basics before passing information on to the public. For example, we had a home inspector see one of our homes that was 3 years old. They claimed that the attic ventilation was not sufficient. We had ridge vent at every ridge and soffet vents every 4 feet. They the insulation was properly installed. Their was no moisture in the attic, no mold, but because the inspector was not familiar with ridge vent- the home was improperly vented. These types of inspectors drive me crazy.

Another one, inspectors who want mudjacking underneath a driveway. There is very few driveways that are in my area that don't have a void underneath them. We put rebar every 12"and attach it to the home as well as the curb. The earth will settle after a while underneath that driveway. Since they are steel reinforced it is not a problem- except the trip hazzard if the void is on the edge. My inspectors in my area will recommend a driveway replacement or mudjacking. These do nothing. The driveway will crack whether their is dirt underneath them or not if you place a truck that is too heavy on it. If you have a structural engineer with a master's degree come out, they will confirm what the builder is telling you- but because a uneducated "home inspector" comes out and states his opinion it threatens the deal. We have had to hire many structural engineers through the years to fight uneducated home inspectors- and 20 years later we still are hiring them because the home inspectors haven't learned yet! Get a clue! This is costly to us and we have done nothing wrong!

As far as the contractor not building the home- I do disagree. My family has been building homes since 1985. Many of his subs have been working with him since 1985. We take personal responsibility for the workmanship of the contractors that he hires. It is his name that is on the home, his reputation on the home. They don't remember the rough-in contractor who built their home- but they remember Landmark built the home- and they will call us with questions up to 20 years after we have completed construction with questions about their home. We may not be typical, I just find holes with your statement that we aren't building the home. The Building contractors are personally and legally responsible for the work- good or bad well past the year warranty period.

I think that if a home inspector is on site, then a representative from the builder ought to be there as well to educate the inspector on the homes construction- that would solve a lot of problems. I also don't have any problem with them informing the customer about home maintenance issues and how to work thier new home, but we already provide that to all our clients at walk-through. I do realize that other builders may not provide that service, as so the educational piece that a home inspector should provide would be helpful. I also think that their are some really bad builders out their that I as a realtor, would encourage my clients to have an inspector made. We just need to raise the bar as professionals in this business. Realtors, Builders, Home Inspectors need to learn more about the homes, listen and be careful with our opinions until we have done our homework and have earned the right to speak those opinions. As with most disagreements, if you start by making sure that you have the facts right and don't start by accusing people of wrong doing, you can get most problems resolved- and you might just learn something.

I guess that was more than just one thing.... sorry.

Dec 26, 2007 03:55 AM
Richard Ross
Accurate Home Inspections of America, LLC - Cape Coral, FL
Angela, being a professional home builder for over 20 years, what should people look for when selecting a home builder?
Dec 26, 2007 06:33 AM
Angela Shadduck
Coldwell Banker John Moffitt - Blue Springs, MO

Sorry that it has taken me a quite to get back- I didn't forget you!

The advice that I give to people when looking for a home builder- in general is very simple.

1. Ask for references. Not one, but everyone they have built for in the last 5 years (or a large number). Do be satisfied to talk to one who just purchased the home- talk to several from different lengths of time. We still have clients call us and refer us that we built homes for in the 1980s and who are still giving referals. We also have several people that we have built 2, 3 and (1 person) 4 homes for since 1985. That is a great reference!

2. Call the references. Ask them about the experience. Ask if they would recommend that Builder to a Friend. Ask them what problems that they had. Ask them if they had problems, which is unlikely that they didn't at some point, did they get it resolved. Ask them if they would go back to that builder if they needed another home built. Where they treated with respect during the process and during the warranty period. I can count the number of people who have asked for references on my hand which is amazing to me!

3. Hire a home inspector to go through their model home. If they can't build the model home correctly they won't built you house correctly. Be careful because I know of some contractors who will use good crews only on their models and use the cheapest labor on their build jobs. This leads to my next point # 4. I have only heard of one client who had a relative- who was a builder across the country- who had our homes inspected prior to signing the contract. That one worked out great- he said we did a better job than he did! I would welcome a home inspector into any of our homes- model, spec, or other build job.

4. Ask for Trade references. Cabinet maker, Trim Guys, Painter- catch them on the job site. Would you trust them to build your home. How many homes have they done for that builder. Did they do the model home? Do they do all the work for that builder. Have they been paid on time? Lumber Salesmen are the Best resource. They know all the dirt on the builders in the area- they see all the work and know who does a good job. Ask them who they would trust to build their home. Talk to their banker- do they pay bills on time? A good contractor won't mind you asking for these resources as long as you ask in the right fashion- they will understand. Just remember with all people, often times, it is not what is asked for but how it is asked for that makes the difference. I have never had a client ask for this!

5. Basic- go on the job sites. Does things look good. Are the framing lumber straight and free of defects, is it grade 1 or 2, grade 3 is cheaper lumber with more defects. I believe in having quality throughout no just on the finishes, so that the quality remains with the home during the lifetime of the home. I have told that to many people- and people are intimated to go look because they don't think that they know anything- if things don't look right- and they can't explain it so that you understand- find someone who can.

Lastly- don't compare builder by price per square foot. If the only good thing that the builder can brag about their home is that they can build it cheaper than anyone else- you get what you paid for. When I get this question at the sales office, my normal response it that I will tell them the price per square foot of this home after they tell me the price of their last car was, by the pound. Ofcoarse they don't know that! It means nothing. The price per square foot of a home means nothing either- except that their is absolutely nothing to brag about except the fact that the home is cheap!

That is my recommendation. Few will follow the advice. We even in the industry don't know how to help people select good contractors which is a shame. It is your largest asset. I realize that this takes time- But I think that you could do all of these things- within 2 weeks- even while working you normal job. Gaining the piece of mind would make that time well spent!

Clarification- I am a real estate broker. My family has been in the building buisness since 1985 so I grew up with it. I do sell my family's homes and communities but also work on other projects. I just think that educating the real estate communities about these topics is extremely important so that we can offer better service to our clients. I don't mind selling lesser quality homes as long as the clients realize what they are buying and that works for me- but I do tend to stay in the middle and upper priced homes where the quality is easier to find.

As always... too long! Sorry!

Jan 04, 2008 01:47 PM
Richard Ross
Accurate Home Inspections of America, LLC - Cape Coral, FL
Angela - Thank you for the information!
Jan 13, 2008 03:42 AM