Skip to main content

Should a newly constructed home be inspected?

No one can build something as large and complex as a house without committing a few errors at various stages of the process. Throughout my years of inspecting, I have learned that all new homes will have their 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.

The belief that any new product is free of defects and necessarily flawless runs contrary to common sense and experience. The return counter at any department store provides ample evidence of this fact. When applied to new homes, the belief that new means perfect can lead to very costly mistakes.

Many home buyers feel that they do not need to employ a professional home inspector because municipal building inspectors regularly inspect new homes. Let me personally tell you that a municipal inspection is not enough. The purpose, scope, time allotment and procedures are not the same for municipal inspections as they are for home inspections on the behalf of Buyers.

Home Buyers need to understand that many building inspectors are seeing over 12-15 homes a day and are inspecting primarily for code compliance's, and not for quality of workmanship. They can cite a builder for improper structural framing or for non-complying drain connections, but a poorly fitted door, improper installation of components, unprofessional installation of wiring, an uneven tile counter top and shoddy finish work are not on their list of concerns. Municipal inspectors rarely inspect an attic or a sub-area crawlspace. They come to the job site with a clipboard and a code book, not with a ladder, high-tech tools 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.

Municipal inspections are performed before the utilities are turned on, so municipal inspectors cannot determine if the appliances and fixtures work. They don't test outlets for ground and polarity because this can be done only after the power is turned on. Nor, without power, can they test the performance of GFCI or AFCI safety breakers. Because there is no water or gas yet, municipal inspectors can't test plumbing fixtures such as sinks, showers, tubs and dishwashers, or gas fixtures such as furnaces, fireplaces and water heaters.

The municipal inspector is not looking at specific construction practices that tend to determine if a home is going to be a trouble-free investment or one that will require significant modification and repair in the future. As I previously mentioned, they are primarily code compliance inspectors. In the past, I've always picked up on many building or safety infractions that municipal building officials had totally ignored. I've never performed a newly constructed home inspection that was totally flawless. Your home inspection report will always contain a list of items that need to be corrected. There is no perfect home. So, a professional home inspection on a brand new home is always beneficial. As one municipal inspector has stated in the past..."What we do is a cursory inspection, we do not check everything. That is not our job. We don't even warrant the work. We are going to look for the big stuff."The keyword here is "BIG STUFF". My question is.....How do they find the BIG STUFF on a simple cursory inspection?

Another interesting fact is, anyone who has worked in the construction field can tell stories of the shortcuts and human errors that routinely occur, even on the best built of homes. Workmen have bad days, materials can have defects, details can be overlooked, components can be omitted, and municipal building inspectors can have too little time to check every nook and cranny within the house.

So the choice is yours. If you still would like to take chances on waiving your home inspection on your newly constructed home, I seriously think you're making a big mistake and I honestly wish you the best of luck. There is a lot of shoddy construction out there and the construction errors I find on a daily basis is absolutely astonishing. Maybe this news clip will help you make your decision.


Popular Video