Seattle Home Inspector's Blog

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I love inspecting New Construction!

While there are always issues that need to be addressed, the list does not go on and on endlessly or without possible resolution.  It is pretty rare to have a New Construction deal go south because of the inspection.  For one thing there is usually a builder willing to make things right, as opposed to a regular seller that might be more willing to dig in their heels.  For a builder it is generally just business and he will have crews of guys that attend to the typical concerns that come up on an inspection.  He also likely has a bunch of sub-contractors that are looking to maintain their relationships with the builder.

At a recent inspection, I am sure that much of what I found was already on the Builder’s punch list, but a couple of things were likely not on his list.

One simple thing was electrical.  The panel had numerous stickers signing off the installation by the jurisdictional inspectors and yet the simple bonding strap that connects the panel itself to the electrical grounding system had never gotten installed. 

Bonding strap not installed

It is a super simple fix, but an example of the kinds of things that can be found at a new construction inspection, in spite of all the sign-off by the municipal inspectors.

There was another bigger issue that frankly is going to be a pain in the butt for someone.  Floors over vented crawl spaces are required to be insulated to R-30.  As you can see in the following picture the insulation looks pretty nicely installed all nice and even with the bottom of the 9-3/8” I-joists. 

Crawl space insulation 

Typically a 10 thick fiberglass batt will fill this entire cavity.  There was a very small area of missing insulation where I could see that the batt insulation did not fill the entire cavity.  In fact there was an approximately 3” gap everywhere above the insulation.

Insulation not in contact with floor 

Looking into the space with my camera tells the story.

space above the insulation

The code requirement for installation of floor insulation is for it to be in “permanent” contact with the sub-floor.  Not only is this not in contact with the sub-floor, I have to question whether the batt is even R-30.

Now you might ask what is the big deal?  Well if insulation is not is substantial contact with the sub-floor, cold air will infiltrate the space and make the floors feel much colder than they would otherwise.  Also if air can move into the space, so can moisture.  We want warm floors and we don’t want air movement.

These sorts of things do indeed get by the builder and the jurisdictional inspectors in the construction process and having the home inspected prior to purchase—even New Construction—should be a no-brainer.

 

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 12 commentsCharles Buell • February 06 2014 01:21PM

Comments

Good post Charles!  You are absolutely right that things do slip by - despite the contractors checking, the building inspector checking - some things just don't get caught without an inspection.  And it is always SO much better to have those things caught right away so the buyer can get them resolved most easily....

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA almost 6 years ago

Hi Charles,

Good finds. As many brokers here in this area say's new homes don't need a home inspection. They should read this post.

Have a great day in Seattle.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) almost 6 years ago

Hi Charles - every builder can make a mistake. It is very important for home buyers to have new homes inspected. The best part is when they have an inspector of your caliber who can have the right type of talk with a builder as they, as you put it, are usually willing to make things right.

Posted by Jeff Fritzson: Frisco Real Estate Pro, Your Success is My Focus! (Jeff Fritzson Real Estate, Ebby Halliday Realtors) almost 6 years ago

I love marketing and selling a new constructions too, who doesn't it?:)

Well, they might have some issues here and there, but usually developers agree to fix them.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) almost 6 years ago

I have found the neutral / ground terminal not bonded on new construction as well.

I once had a job in a commercial building where one office was cold all the time. The women who worked in that office had been complaining for years of the cold, especially the floor. The office was cantilevered out of the main building supported on piers. The floor was essentially outside. Below was a bank drive through. The ceiling was 2' x 4' tiles. I pushed up one tile and what did I see? Insulation on top. Nothing at all against the floor or the surrounding walls. A week later I was contacted by the man who hired me to say they had fixed the problem and the ladies wanted to give cookies 

Guess someone will have to fix that floor, but I see no cookies in your future 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 6 years ago

Nancy, and add to that that I probably don't catch "everything"

Clint, it still amazes me that anyone would think new construction does not need inspecting

Jeff, that has been my experience

Inna, it has to be better for all parties it would seem

Jim, nope---not cookies in my future

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

What can go wrong in new construction? Well let me see.....

Framing, insulation, vapourbarrier, electrical, venting, plumbing, foundations and footing drains, doors, windows, garage doors, heating and AC systems, engineered joists and trusses, roofing, ....

Thats just mistakes. Add accidents, omissions and bad design.

In short; anything.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 6 years ago

Robert, there is really no end to the possibilities---hard to imagine why anyone would think otherwise.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

Charles-You like inspecting new homes, and I love selling new homes. The builder's subcontractors are a great resource in making things right. There is an occassional disagreement regarding inspection results and performance requirements but on the whole, the home buyer gets a good result.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) almost 6 years ago

Wayne, I think it is much more difficult for the buyer to know what they are getting when it is older housing stock.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

I represent builders - and always tell buyers and their agents to get an inspection. There are too many things that fall through the cracks, so to speak. And yes, they do get resolved - that's the good news.

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 6 years ago

Debb, typically so much easier with a builder than a seller that is not the builder :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 6 years ago

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