New Home Construction Inspection

Published | Written by Parbatie Galvan

Builders who construct new homes are typically required to provide a warranty for a specified period of time. Municipal inspections are also required during different stages of construction to ensure the safety and well-being of the public. Even if something is missed during an inspection, the builder remains responsible for building to code.

There are four basic stages of residential construction. The first stage is the foundation stage, which includes excavation, footings, foundation walls or slab, waterproofing, backfill, compaction, and underground rough plumbing and electricity. Municipal inspections are done before pouring the foundation, while items are still visible.

The second stage is the framing stage, which includes wood or steel framing, exterior walls and roof sheathing, exterior trim, and siding, windows, doors, and roofing. Depending on the municipality, there could be inspections of the rough framing separate from the roofing.

The third stage is the rough plumbing stage, which includes water, waste, and vent piping, rough electrical, rough mechanical, ductwork, wiring, and electrical panel installation. Municipalities usually inspect plumbing and electrical separately.

The fourth stage includes wall insulation and drywall installation, which are inspected depending on the municipality before tape and texturing are done. The final stage of construction includes flooring, cabinets, millwork, countertops, tile, mirrors, electrical trim, plumbing trim, and mechanical.

A “Final Inspection” is done after all the periodic inspections have been completed and passed.

If defects manifest themselves during the warranty period, the builder is responsible for repairing them. Unfortunately, some issues may not become apparent until after the warranty has expired, leaving the repair expense as the sole burden of the buyer/owner.

One way to safeguard against this is to purchase a home warranty, which shifts the liability to the warranty or service contract company. This warranty is negotiable and can be paid for by the builder or the buyer. However, it has a time limit and must be renewed annually by paying an additional premium.

Another safeguard for the purchaser is to hire their own inspector to conduct periodic inspections during the different phases of construction. These inspections are more expensive than those made on an existing home because the inspector must visit the site multiple times during the process.

When hiring an inspector for new construction, ask at what stages they inspect. A typical inspection might be at the end of the foundation stage, another at the end of the framing and rough plumbing, electrical, and mechanical, and the final inspection after the home is completed.

A provision allowing a buyer to hire their own inspector for periodic inspections should be included in the sales contract. Your agent can help you get this included and assist in negotiating any issues that arise because of the periodic inspections. If you value this extra level of protection when purchasing a new home, it is important to have your agent accompany you to the models so they will be registered as your agent.

List of Inspectors in Houston and surrounding areas.

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