New Construction Inspections

Building a new home is an expensive, overwhelming, and often confusing enterprise. Homebuyers often stake their life savings on an undertaking that they know very little about. As they endure the arduous process of dealing with builders, their enthusiasm wanes. Then, their hopes and dreams are often dashed after the closing and the reality of quality control problems hit them. Some of the factors that contribute to the need for an independent, phased, construction inspection performed by a qualified inspector include buyer inexperience, the state of today’s building industry, and the limitations of homebuyers’ recourse for defective workmanship.

Buyer Inexperience

Buyers of new homes typically have no experience or background in making decisions about the process. How can they know what needs to be monitored and how to determine process quality? Homebuyers have to place a great deal of trust in the builder and, in most cases, that trust is well placed. However, too often too much trust is placed in the builder when the reality is that the builder is focused on getting the job done and holding to a schedule. Even good, conscientious builders will make mistakes that can become costly aggravations for the buyer when they are discovered and the consequences have to be dealt with. Finding and correcting a problem before it becomes part of a larger problem saves money and aggravation for many years down the road and underscores the need for independent, expert involvement in the beginning stages of the project.

Today’s Building Industry

The building industry has undergone many changes in the past few years. There are pressures on today’s industry that were not even serious factors in the past. First, competition is becoming more intense. It is driving prices lower and lower, and, as always, you usually get what you pay for. Then, as competition squeezes margins tighter some builders will look for ways to cut corners, whether with materials or quality of workmanship. Schedules are much tighter than they used to be.

Competition, demand, and financial obligations are driving builders to close projects in shorter periods of time. This can lead to hasty construction with less builder oversight. Labor issues have changed dramatically in the past few years. Today’s labor force tends to be more mobile and transient and often has less apprenticed, formal training. Some workers are trained on site. If a builder has trouble making a payroll, workers can move on to another job, creating labor shortages that can in turn affect deadlines and quality.

Even good builders have to make projections and deal with bad weather, which can have an ever-growing ripple effect on the whole project. For example, a week of rain can throw off projections, which throws off closings, which throws off the builder getting paid. If the builder is leveraged too much, and many are tightly leveraged, how does that builder make payroll and retain quality workers?

Many construction tasks such as plumbing and electrical work are subcontracted out to the lowest bidder. Again, you get what you pay for. The builder has to depend on the subcontractors, some of whom may be less than reputable. A busy builder/contractor will have a difficult time monitoring all phases of the construction when much of it is subcontracted out.

A professional inspector can provide the thorough observation and oversight projects of this complexity and the homebuyers deserve. Sometime contractors will knowingly ignore problems with the view that it’s cheaper to come back and fix a problem than to do it right in the first place. This then leads to another reason why an independent inspection is important during construction: the issue of homeowner recourse.

Limited Homeowner Recourse

Once a home is “finished” and everything is signed off the buyer’s recourse is limited. A builder who makes honest mistakes may not be obligated to come back and fix the problems once the project is signed off. Building industry lobbying and legislation can sometimes make it difficult to hold a bad builder accountable. Also, arbitration clauses are sometimes written into contracts, and the cost in time, money, and stress causes many people to abandon trying to remediate construction defects. Detection and remediation of problems before anything is finished and signed makes the question of homeowner recourse much less of an issue.

The Cost Of Not Inspecting

New construction horror stories are easy to find, both by word of mouth and online. Problems such as faulty work hidden behind drywall, homes closed without complete insulation, inferior-grade concrete being poured, and defective wiring often cannot be detected in the finished home and can cause homeowner nightmares and even dangerous situations years down the road. Each phase of the construction is a separate process that should be inspected and approved before the next phase begins because the quality of the finished product is compromised by any deficiency anywhere along the way.

The Solution: An Independent Construction Inspection By A Qualified Inspector

Professional, qualified inspectors who monitor the construction process serve two purposes. First, they oversee the quality of the work. With just a few visits to the site they can monitor procedures, materials, and workmanship. Questionable builders will be more careful when they know their work is being scrutinized by someone who knows the business. Reputable builders will know that the quality of their workmanship is being validated, again by someone who knows the business. Inspectors also act as advocates for the homebuyers. Problems can be discovered and corrected before they are hidden behind finished walls and emerge as serious, costly repairs in the future. You the homeowner will have peace of mind knowing that they have the home they paid for and that it is in good order. A thorough inspection is a valuable ounce of prevention that is more than worth a pound of cure.

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