Most new home buyers know the importance of getting a home inspection before purchasing a home. The pitfalls of buying a home with hidden problems can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. But what many home buyers may not know is the same potential for disaster exists when buying a new home as well.
Reason #1 – New Construction Doesn’t Mean Perfect Construction
Building a home is a complex undertaking involving many different tradespeople and craftsmen making it easy for even the most well intentioned builder to miss items in need of remediation.
Subcontractors are often paid by the job and thus anxious to move on to their next project. In their haste major systems or components can be left incomplete or non-functional.
Reason #2 – City Inspections Only Cover So Much
Most municipalities require periodic inspections throughout the construction process of a home to ensure the structure is built in compliance with building codes. The shortcoming of a building code inspection though, is that these types of inspections only verify the home is constructed to a “minimum standard” set of requirements and don’t necessarily cover the quality-of-build aspects that a typical home inspection will provide.
A building code inspection won’t tell you if the ceiling fans work, if the dishwasher is loose in its cabinet or if the windows have their springs installed, for example.
In addition to building code inspections, buyers often do what are called walk-through inspections with the builder as the construction nears completion. The purpose of a walk-through inspection is to verify final fit and finish but as with building code inspections, these won’t tell you what’s going on up on the roof or down in the crawl space.
Reason #3 – Repairs Are Easier In an Empty House
After conducting nearly 1,000 home inspections I have yet to inspect the perfect house and feel very confident in saying I probably never will. Houses are made up of so many different systems, components and materials that the probability of finding and inspecting a prefect house is slim at best.
Existing issues don’t have to consist of a major malfunction or safety hazard for it to be a nuisance or a costly repair so you’ll want to take care of known issues when you can. Hands down the best time to do that is before you move in.
Depending on what the repair is, the placement of home furnishings can greatly complicate the repair process. To gain access to the repair area heavy furniture may need to be moved, carpets may need to be lifted or rolled up and wall hangings may need to be taken down and set aside. Some situations may require a ladder be setup or major appliances be uninstalled for proper access.
Hopefully most of the needed repairs will be limited in scope but if outside help is required you’ll need to consider the impact their presence and repair work will have on the occupants and household pets. Large scale repairs often times require existing furniture be covered with tarps or blankets to keep them dust free not to mention what workers might track in on their feet from the outside.
Reason #4 – Have Complete Understanding of What You’re Buying
According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average American moves more than 11 times in their lifetime. With the average life expectancy being at just under 79 years of age meaning most Americans live in their home for only 7 years.
With those numbers in mind, it is to your distinct advantage to know exactly what it is you’re buying in case you need to put your house on the market. No doubt well informed buyers will almost certainly have their own home inspection done. If any corrections or improvements are needed you’ll want to know well ahead of time rather than playing catch up at the last minute.
Buying a home, new or used, is a long, drawn out process. There’ll be showings to attend, loan applications to fill out, offers to make, counter offers, home owner’s insurance to purchase and on and on. Be patient and thorough and avoid the temptation to cut corners merely to save a couple hundred dollars .
A decent home inspection should always be part of the home buying process, can protect you and your hard earned income from investing in a money pit and will give you the peace of mind to enjoy your new home for years to come.