Is a professional home inspection on new construction really necessary? Isn't the punchlist performed by the buyer and the buyer's agent sufficient?
An incident this week made me aware that the consumers (and some agents) regard punchlists and professional inspections as one in the same; I believe that that is a dangerous assumption for either of these parties to make. Here is my recent experience that I believe illistrates my concerns perfectly:
Last week I negotiated a contract on a sixth month old resale home. My buyer is a very detailed engineer who of course had the home inspected. While the home is in overall good shape(which is to be expected in a six month old home) the inspector turned in a laundry list of issues. The seller was FURIOUS with me and my buyer for wanting these items address, Now, bear in mind some of these issues are safety concerns; a dryer vent in the attic was not attached, a pilot light on the cooktop was not shutting off correctly, two ground fault indicators were not tripping as required and the exhaust vent for the gas hot water heater in the attic was coming in contact with the wood roof decking. The rest of the issues were equally important and were defentely the builder's responsibilty. My buyer and I stuck to our guns and are requireing all items to be remedied by the seller; now the seller is frantically trying to get the builder to come back out before closing. IF BEFORE CLOSING ON THE HOME THE SELLER HAD IT INSPECTED, ALL OF THESE ITEMS WOULD HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED BEFORE THE BUILDER RECEIVED HIS MONEY AND LOST INTEREST IN RETURNING THE SELLER'S CALL!!!! Now, the builder is ..at least in his mind..finished with the home and concentrating on new homes that he is building and Mr. Seller is scrambling to meet a very tight deadline on our deal.
The listing agent on this transaction is frustrated and made a very interesting comment to me yesterday. She basically said "Well, we(she and her client) did the punchlist and the builder took care of everything on it, so we shouldn't be responsible for these additional items and you, Shannon, are being to picky!" She then went on to say; "Besides, the city passed the house with all of the issues so it is not a code violation and shouldn't be a concern." WOW, how dangerous are both of these statements?
The city is not inspecting the house as a whole and they are certainly not doing a detailed look at every component. If REALTORS® and consumers are relying on the city inspectors to protect them....well lets just say that is scary and unrealistic.
As far as her other statement concerning punchlists, that is the one that alarmed me the most. Most punchlist are performed by the buyer's agent, the buyers, the buyer's friends, the buyer's parents, the buyer's coworkers,the buyer's girlfriend/boyfriend's parents and coworkers, the buyer's great aunt, the buyer's Priest and ....well you get the point. Who does NOT perform most punchlists are inspectors. While all of the above mentioned people may have the buyer's best interest at heart, most if not all of them have absoluetly no training that would make them experts in the field of inspection. Therefore, the average punchlist is superficial, containing mainly paint issues and cleaning items. Most builder's happily accept these cosmetic lists, take care of each and every item, give the buyer's their keys at closing and blissfully become unavailable once the check is in the bank and the real issues raise their ugly heads.
Are all builders this calous when it comes to follow up work? No, of course not but what about their subcontractors? What about the sub's subs? My point here is it is much easier to get all items resolved prior to disbursement of funds then after and in the case of some of the issues I mentioned above, it is in you and your family's best interest to resolve them before you spend one night in the home with a leakly pilot light.
So the bottom line is: Buyers, do your punchlist and not every single scratch on the wall and light that does not have a bulb BUT also have a professional inspector come in and find the things you never would. Agents, DO NOT take on the extra liabilty and heartache of punching out a house and letting your buyers think you have the expertise to do an inspector's job. Encourgage them to have the home professionally inspected for both yours and their protection.