Why You Need A Private Building Inspection When Buying A New Home

As a real estate broker and former real estate developer and builder, I’m surprised how many transactions I see in which a new home buyer forgoes a private building inspection thinking,  since the home is new, an inspection is not necessary.  In my personal opinion, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a condemnation of St Louis home builders as I know most of them, are friends with many, and feel that, for the most part, we have some very qualified, competent and ethical home builders in St Louis.  Having said that though, I do realize that mistakes and accidents happen.  Not to mention, given that a typical home inspection will cost less than $1,000 in most cases, that is a very small price to pay when making what is for most home buyers, the biggest investment they will make.

What could be wrong with a brand new home?
There are a myriad of things that could be wrong with a new home ranging from potential major structural issues, to issues with the systems, such as plumbing, electric, etc,  dangerously high radon levels, to items that are more minor and cosmetic in nature.  Some of the problems, if not discovered during an inspection, may surface quickly after moving in and in time to be covered by the builders warranty but others may lie dormant for a long time and not surface until a time when it may be difficult to get the builder to accept responsibility.  Having a private building inspection will help discover the issues early, before the issue becomes a nuisance to you and while not having to worry about whether it’s covered by the warranty or not as you haven’t closed on the purchase yet.

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This is also why you should NEVER buy a new home direct from the builder or the builders agent.
Again, I’m not knocking builders, nor their agents, just pointing out that homebuyers need a qualified and skilled buyer’s agent representing them to make sure they are protected as much as possible.  A good buyers agent that sells new homes will advice their client of the importance of a building inspection, boundary survey by an independent third party as well as title exam and title insurance from an independent third party.  As reputable as most of the builders are here in St Louis, they are not dumb and are not going to suggest these things to buyers normally.   Many buyers fall into this trap thinking that they will get a better deal if they go direct to the builder which, in many, if not most, cases is not true and in the few instances where it may be true, it can prove to be very penny-wise and dollar foolish.  For more information on this topic be sure to check out Things To Consider When Buying A New Home.

New home issues from the trenches…
Before writing this article I contacted who I believe to be one of the best home inspectors in the St Louis area, Scott Frederick, owner of Pillar to Post Home Inspectors, The Scott Frederick Team  to get a few examples of issues he has discovered when doing a building inspection for a buyer of a new home.  Here are a few of the more common things that Scott has run into:

  • Lack of roof felt. For some builders this is their typical practice. I’m always shocked that municipal inspectors allow for some big box builders to install asphalt shingles over OSB roof sheathing without roofing felt or ice/water shield.
  • Lack of house wrap such as Tyvek. Installing vinyl siding over exterior sheathing without a breathable vapor barrier is not recommended.
  • Hardie Board installation ( cement based exterior siding ). To properly install Hardie board and maintain the manufacture warranty an installer must be certified. I’ve experienced custom built homes in the area where all nails have been countersunk into the product. This voids the warranty from the manufacturer. Specific psi ( nail gun ) is required when fastening this product as to not damage it.
  • Sump pump drains that are stubbed out of the foundation. When a sump pump has water present and the pump is regularly operating, the drain or discharge must be down hill away from the foundation. New construction often times will have it just outside of the foundation which is returning the water back to its source.
  • Sewer issues – I’ve experienced a custom home build where the PVC sewer lateral ran from the home under garage floor to the street. When backfilling the garage floor, the bobcat compressed the earth above the sewer lateral creating a significant belly in the PVC drain line. This constantly was clogging due to the low spot and had to be repaired.
  • Another roof defect came to mind. New construction just built. I walked the entire roof as usual and found major damage to the asphalt shingles in multiple locations. The damage was caused by foot traffic, construction debris, walkboards, and ladders. The damage was out of sight and would not of been found unless the roof was visually walked.

Are you starting to get the idea why the cost of an inspection is a good investment?

If you have questions on a new home inspection or would like to have Scott do your inspection, you can reach him at 314-571-9824.


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