Do New Homes Need an Inspection?

One question I get asked regularly is, do I need a home inspection with a new construction home? At first glance the answer would seem like a ‘no.’ You’re likely thinking you had code inspectors come out and you have a reputable contractor. In reality your assumption could not be further from the truth.

A new construction home actually needs more then 1 home inspection! The first issue here being there’s a significant difference between a home inspection and a code inspection; the second issue is contractors are not inspectors and also have a biased opinion (reasonably so); third it will be beneficial in law suits and home warranty claims.

Code inspections monitor the building process for governing codes, home inspectors monitor buildings for building standards of practice. The difference meaning codes are the minimum requirements while standards of practice are based on best building practices.

Additionally home inspections monitor system functionality. If you imagine building a car the quality control inspector ensures that everything is put together properly and is similar to a code inspection; the home inspection is more in line with a test drive, we drive the car checking brakes, turn signals, transmission function etc. There is some overlap here because best practices aline with codes and home inspectors are reasonably familiar with codes and base inspection on those as well.

I have personally never inspected a home that passed the code inspections but passed the home inspection. The most recent home inspection I did on a new construction home cost the home buyer $385, for their money I found $7,000 worth of defects from a reputable contractor. The contractor now had to fix those issues and saved the client thousands on future repairs and issues when listing the house.

Contractors do inspect their work, but even good crews get anxious at 5 o’clock on Friday. Ordering inspections in process at key stages may cost you an extra few hundred dollars but ensures your home is built properly and issues cannot be hidden. We can also save the contractor money by conducting those inspections so they are not fixing them after it is built.

Small things that the code doesn’t require, the inspector can recommend that the contractor fix providing you the ability to get the work done at no cost to you. Codes don’t necessarily require counter flashing but the home inspector will require these to be put in. Now you no longer have to rebuild the wall when you go to sell the house because the contractor had to fix it. If he refuses and you have issues in the future you now have a report backing the claim recommending them.

If you order an inspection at 11 months after the house is built you then have a report backing all warranty claims (even things you don’t have an issue with yet). For the price of an inspection you saved thousands because you are no longer the one responsible for fixing the issues.

The last issue is some clients ask the professionals they’ve hired to tell them whether they need an inspection. The professional doesn’t get paid until you buy the house so of course they will tell you ‘no’ so they can push the deal through. A decent professional with their clients best interest truly in mind will advise you to get it done; whether that’s the lawyer, insurance agent, realtor, or builder they should recommend you have it performed.

The recommendation for a new construction home is to have several (usually 2) in process inspections, one full inspection on completion, and another full inspection with mold test at 1 year. This can obviously add up but the return in savings is well worth it, remember this is the largest asset you will ever own have the foresight to get it inspected correctly.