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Buying a Newly Constructed Home? authorBuying a Newly Constructed Home?
by Dale McNutt of Integrity Property Inspections

One of the common misconceptions being circulated today is the notion that newly constructed homes do not need a professional home inspection. After all, the builder has assured you at the walk-through that everything is OK and the house has been "passed off" by the local building department. Not so fast. Let's look at a few facts before we go any further.

A big difference in home building today is the way the companies are structured. Your nationally recognized, award winning builder is really no better than the local workforce and the supervision watching over them. They can fall back on their size and past repution all they want, but you are at the mercy of the of the people swinging the hammers, pulling the cable and the supervision in charge. After WWII, the building contractors employed a significant number of the total workforce on a housing tract. Today, they basically set up a trailer, coordinate sub-contractors and schedule walk-throughs. Their payroll is countable on one hand. Bottom line is "who's looking out for you"? Who is demanding that the low-bid sub-contractors working on your investment perform to manufacturer's recommendations, building standards and widely accepted construction techniques? Recently, while out in the field, I observed two houses being framed side by side in the tract of nationally advertised builder. One building was being framed by two men in a well stocked work truck. The other was being framed by 6 guys that drove up in an old station wagon. The two men had their own water on the back of their truck. I observed some of the 6 guys walking into the front yards of occupied homes drinking out of their garden hose. Who whould you want to build your home? For that matter, how would you ever know?

You need an advocate. You need a hired set of eyes. You need an un-biased, third party to inform you of any and all visible components that were not installed properly or may be defective. Every building was new at one time. Unfortunately, many people live in some that were "signed off" by the local building inspector from the booth at the local coffee shop.

A new home is inspected in exactly the same manner as one that was built 50 years ago; systematically. The big difference however, is the expectations of the buyer. The new home buyer is in a position to demand near-perfection. I have watched clients of mine spend literally hours going around a new home with a roll of blue masking tape, marking scratches, dents, chips, runs, etc. Meanwhile, I am in the attic, on the tile roof, inside the electric panel and under the kitchen sink. What teamwork! As long as you have the builder and his supporting cast of sub-contractors "on the hook", you are well served by having the home thoroughly inspected by a qualified, professional inspector. The documentation will send a strong message to the builder that you are informed and expect the building to exhibit proper building component applications. If you did not have your new home inspected, fear not. The builder is responsible for up to 10 years on certain component applications. There is no excuse for negligence. True, we all make mistakes, but the supervision (builder) gets paid for catching those mistakes before they are passed on to the unsuspecting consumer. Recommended course of action? Schedule a visual home inspection immediately.

Dale McNutt is truly a "building inspector". Not only does he hold an active general contractor's license in California, but he is a certified building inspector with ICC (formerly ICBO) and a member of California Real Estate Inspection Association as well as current chapter vice-president. Dale has a strong referral base as he travels literally "all over" the western U.S., inspecting commercial buildings, apartments, and housing. As owner of Integrity Property Inspections, Dale has built a solid reputation as a true "buyer's" inspector, saving investors and homebuyers alike literally tens of thousands of dollars in the disclosure of defects and mis-applications.
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