What Need to be Inspected in a Home Inspection
The inspection of a new home has to concentrate on the prediction of problems rather than the demonstration of some problem that has already occurred and potentially been corrected. New homes have never been occupied and therefore any installation omission or error in construction has never been identified or corrected. There are no symptoms to analyze or point to potential problems.
As a result, the evaluation has to concentrate on the knowledge of building codes and good construction techniques. Each function has to be evaluated and each system analyzed for function.
Typical concerns in new home construction include:
Structural and Basement – Building codes are developed to set minimum standard and often do not reflect the standards of the new home owner. There should be no damage due to the backfill process (no damaged foundation). Each crack should be noted and its location identified to analyze future movement. There should be no sign of water penetration (the areas around water lines and trenches where utilities were brought up to the house should be checked, as these often leak). Look for mold or mildew growing or stains of previous problems and take note. The house should have been secured to the foundation (check all foundation straps, joist hangers, columns and I-beams and floor joists damage from electricians, plumbers and heating contractors). Floor joist size and spacing should be checked (floor joists under heavy objects may need reinforcement. Joists under inside wall partitions need to be doubled. Double headers should be placed in stairwells and opening in the flooring system). The bearing walls should be lined up from the basement all the way up to the top floor and solid blocking should be placed under large door and window openings. There should be no truss damage (trusses are engineered for safe wind and snow loads and should not be cut or damaged in any way).
Heating and Cooling – Many of the accessories, such as humidifiers, swamp coolers, condensate pumps, and air cleaners, are often left off. Ducts are often left unconnected or filled with construction debris. Heating and cooling capacities are often undersized. Gas lines should be blue tagged indicating they have been checked and Okayed. The location of the furnace thermostat should be sufficient to give even heat and cooling. There should be insulation on the heating and cooling ducts that go through unheated spaces. The exhaust fans on kitchen and bath fans should be properly exhausted. The air conditioner should be raised above the grade level and properly leveled. The furnace filter should have been replaced and not have construction dirt packed on it.
Plumbing and Bathrooms – Plumbing problems in new homes tend to be minimal because they are so obvious. However there are a few things to check for: Run the water in all faucets. Check all solder joints for leakage. Check the drainage for leakage, especially the sink traps. Listen for water hammer that may indicate loose pipes in walls. Check for loose shower and tub faucets, quite often the strapping is missing. Check for loose or un-strapped pipes. Check all accessories for tightness.
Electrical – Electric problems also tend to be minimal in new construction. The electrical trade is usually well regulated and there aren’t as many variables. Typical concerns include the following: The service panel should have been inspected and the building inspectors approval been affixed to the panel (this is required from any home inspector in Tulsa). The breakers should be identified properly on the service panel and the wiring complete at the panel. The electrical grounding should include the plumbing. All electrical switches, lights, and outlets should all function properly. There should be no fixtures damage remaining after the construction. All attic, basement, and special request wiring should be checked for completeness.
Kitchen and Interior – Home buying individuals often are very picky” when it comes to interior work. Some imperfection in new home construction should be tolerated. However, as a minimum the following should be checked: Proper operation of all doors and windows. All appliances should be checked, for often they have not been tested. Check to be sure all walls are plumb and all floors are level. Check flooring. Good tile work sets off a good house. Check for damaged accessories such as mirrors and plumbing fixtures. Check for completed base molding.
Attics and roofs – Insulation and ventilation are the primary concerns in an attic. Make sure that the recessed lighting is not covered with insulation unless there is an okay from the manufacturer.
Insulation should be R38 or 14” of insulation in the attic floor (depending on the geographical location). Check for insulation clogging the sofit vents. Check for damaged trusses. Check for roof leaks, especially around flashing. Check drip edges. Check around skylights and chimneys. Check for drainage off the roof. All gutters and downspouts should be in place, well secured, and sufficient to hold all the expected water without any overflow. All roofing materials should be laying flat and look complete with no rips or missing pieces.
Exterior – All windows and doors should be properly flashed. All windows and doors should operate freely. The siding should be secure and clean. The painting and caulking should be complete (check areas around cornice boards, windows, lintels, and doors – these are areas often not completed). All utility holes should be filled properly. Splash blocks should be placed under all drains.
Grounds – The drainage system should have been well developed. There should be a positive slope immediately around the foundation, with grass been planted, all construction debris removed, and all walks, driveways, and patios completed.