New Construction defect that could kill someone

Home Inspector with Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.

Inspecting new homes is always interesting. First we have to overcome the objections of the builders that insist they build a "perfect house". Then there are the folks that tell the buyer's they are wasting their money, because....1. The builder is a really nice guy, 2. It's going to be inspected by the County anyway, 3. The builder goes to church with my hairdresser neighbor, so I know he is a good guy, and the best one........4. Your going to have a warranty on the house anyway.

I managed to hear all four of these reasons within the first 5 minutes of arriving at the house.

I always start in the kitchen, since it gives me counter space to set up my computer, and where I can go over a little paperwork that I need to deal with. I found a couple little things like the anti tilt bracket wasn't installed at the stove, the disposal was missing a wire clamp. The upper cabinets were not secured to the wall at the bottoms, so I could pull them away from the wall. OH, and the GFCI outlet stayed hot when tripped.

I moved from the kitchen to the living room and got to the fireplace. It was a standard pre-fab unit designed for wood or gas. Gas logs or piping were not installed. I removed the wood grate so I could look up the chimney. OMG!!!!!! 

The flue was disconnected just above the fireplace. I am sure that if they started a fire in there, it would likely have burned the house down. Look closely at the photo and you will see the disconnected flue.

So much for the "perfect house". Oh, and the language the builder was using didn't sound like any I hear in church. 


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Sacramento Grapevine 12/30/2008 11:58 PM
Home Builders of America
Home Inspectors across the country
First Time Homebuyer
Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors
ill be back tomorrow and finish this

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Janice Roosevelt
Keller Williams Brandywine Valley - West Chester, PA
OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker

I always suggest independent home inspections on new construction, but I find the tone of the inspection, given what you say about the buyer wanting it to be "perfect" is absolutely critical.

If you simply point out what's wrong and what might be done to fix it, it can remain calm. i've expereinced differences of opinion on how best to fix something (not the inspectors job granted) and that's were we negotiate. But the important piece is to leave the emotional "OMG" stuff out and work on the solution - in my humble opinion

Dec 30, 2008 11:45 PM #1
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jack---awesome picture-----why is it that people who know literaly nothing about houses can be so sure that there is nothing wrong with them?

Dec 30, 2008 11:45 PM #2
Mark Watterson
Salt Lake City, UT
Utah Real Estate

You are right.  Many believe just because it's new construction... NO problems... I personally have had numerous issues with new construction and not just building defect issues.  I'm a big believer in using a home inspector on ALL home purchases.  Nice post thank you.

Dec 30, 2008 11:46 PM #3
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I suspect that a wood fire in that house would have resulted in a smoky house and a beeping smoke detector.

I always recommend a home inspection, but after closing so the home owner can collect a list of defects they find in the first 30 days.  I waited 60 days for the home inspection on my new home in 2006 and we had a 4 page punch list.  Took the builder 3 weeks to work through it.

This serves my buyers well.

If course, I have had a couple homes that were so far from complete when the builder wanted to close, we just had to call off the pre-settlement walk-through.  Builders can get rather testy/nasty when a buyer calls off closing.  But, I can handle them.  Those are builders that I never sell again.  I've go about 8 builders on my list that I won't sell. 

Good job.  I love home inspectors.

Dec 30, 2008 11:47 PM #4
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

This was a really interesting blog and important informaytion. New homes need inspections too. A fact often forgotten

Dec 30, 2008 11:48 PM #5
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana

Jack I hear you.  Builders are only as good as their subs.  If they don't keep an eye on them they will do shabby work these days.

Dec 31, 2008 12:15 AM #6
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN


Since you don't know me, I'll tell you that I am a pretty low key guy. The OMG!!! was really in my head, and here of course. I try to keep it to just the facts and leave the emotion out of it.

By the way, the "perfect" comment was from the builder that said he built a perfect house. I think the buyer had reasonable expectations.


Dec 31, 2008 05:55 AM #7
Ray Toscani
1st Choice Inspection Services Ltd. - Port Coquitlam, BC

Great post Jack, we just had an internal discussion about this with one of our franchisees that was trying to get a contract to do all of the homes completed by a developer.  They gave him a trial run after he had talked to them numerous times but saying "its a waste of money" "you won't find anything."  Well after the 5th item in the first 15min they gave him the contract to do the remainder of the homes in the development.  It's not hard to understand, with multiple trades and multiple people in each trade that the overlap in things sometimes falls though the cracks.

Dec 31, 2008 08:29 AM #8
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Jack I get that stuff all the time and I have developed a look that I give the builder or builders rep.  I call it my "ya don't say" look.  A little wide eyed (like the first time you hear about sex) and uneducated.  Then I bring out the report notes and ask questions about why this or that was done.  Did they know that XX was a fire hazard, etc., etc.  It usually changes all minds and takes the focus off the wonderful church going donator to the Cub Scouts that built the house.

Dec 31, 2008 08:57 AM #9
Denise Gray
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Realtor SRES, Wichita Kansas Homes

My husband has been a Builder since 1981 and honestly we have never built the perfect house, come close but you have to be realistic.

I do the closing walk through with the Buyers. Most of them are looking for cosmetics. One of my jobs is to be as critical as possible. When training punch out employees I have them present for the first 5 walk throughs so they know what to look for and understand that I have a low tolerance for sub standard work whether it is theirs or a sub.


Dec 31, 2008 09:17 PM #10

You hit the nail on the head Denise. I have found that the builders that pay close attention to what's going on during construction, or have someone working for them that does, will have a better product. 

The house is only going to be as good as the worst sub that works on it.

Dec 31, 2008 10:30 PM #11
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Hi Jack,

In my experience we usually find more problems with new consturction than existing homes.

Jan 01, 2009 01:24 AM #12
Tami Vroma
West Michigan Real Estate Specialist-Five Star Real Estate - Grand Haven, MI
Realtor, Grand Rapids MI Real Estate

Jack that is a serious mess up.  You made me laugh when you said the builder didn't use language used in church . . I bet he didn't!

Jan 01, 2009 07:58 AM #13
Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR
ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale - Mesquite, NV
Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS

Hi Jack,

Home inspections are a must, I have regretted not getting one just recently on a new home purchase, I think it might have saved the buyer a bit of cash.

Jan 02, 2009 05:45 AM #14
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

I find so much stuff wrong on new construction, I'll never understand the people who forgo an inspection of it.

Like I tell my clients, it doesn't really matter which company built the house.  It matters who the on site quality control person was and how well he did his job.

Unfortunately, a lot of times that person, along with several others, haven't done their jobs.

Jan 04, 2009 10:02 PM #15
Mike Parks
Residential Building Inspectors - Circleville, OH

Here is another one. A range hood in a $750,000.00 home. Not that price matters.

Feb 22, 2009 08:45 AM #16
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I wonder what percentage of inspectors remove the grease filters in these units to ever find a disconnected vent like this?

Feb 22, 2009 08:53 AM #17
Jack Feldmann
Clayton Inspection Service, Inc. - Knoxville, TN

For that matter, turn them on the check the air flow.

Feb 22, 2009 11:12 AM #18
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