The idea that a new construction home is limited to minor and cosmetic defects, issues that a new buyer should be able to address during a blue-tape walkthrough is a huge myth.
How bad can it be? I mean, Codes Inspectors are looking at all these houses and Builders are obligated to fix issues that appear in the first year anyway, right? The fact is, inspection reports for new construction homes are often larger compared to homes that have been lived in for 5-10 years including major defects that were corrected before the eventual catastrophe. Magnolia has put together an inspection report of many of those major defects to help bust the new construction myth, helping realtors better prepare their buyers and hopefully educating new home buyers for the need of an construction experienced advocate when purchasing a new home!
Just within the last 400 homes Magnolia has inspected there appear to be consistent construction defects across the board on new construction. It is our interpretation that major defects found on a new construction home appears to be the result of high-volume building, Nashville’s booming real estate industry, in which production takes precedence over quality control by quality Builders and Codes Inspectors alike. Here is some of our interpretations of why so many major defects are appearing on new construction homes:
- Quality Builders are producing at maximum or even beyond their limits resulting in experienced superintendents being spread thin across multiple construction sites with less time to oversee the completion details, detailed work that might prevent a roof leak, or malfunction of brand new HVAC equipment months after new buyers take ownership
- Due to a lack of communication, or planning Trade Contractors often run out of material resulting in the ‘appearance’ of a complete job. On so many new construction homes insulation is only installed in the immediate visible areas from the attic access or crawlspace entry – there is no insulation installed on the other side of the large ductwork.
- Quality Builders are forced to hire superintendents that are not as experienced or detailed-oriented; the demand for production can exceed the demand for quality construction.
- Besides the fact that there are very few quality trade contractors, these contractors are being forced to hire workers that are not as experienced or skilled; the demand for production can exceed the demand for quality construction.
- Superintendents and Codes Inspectors are human. Their ability to concentrate on the details in combination with long hour work days, the amount of work or the number of inspections to complete do not allow these individuals to be present during an inspection
- Codes Inspectors are not required to walk on roofs, strap on knee pads to crawl a crawlspace, or investigate attics at the end of construction.
- Low-quality Builders expect the Buyer, the Realtor, the Codes Inspector and a Home Inspector to point out all the issues that need to be fixed in order for the house to be SOLD. Low-quality Builders are only focused on profit and sales factors (i.e. stainless steel appliances, nice cabinets and granite countertops).
With the rise in popularity of home inspections even quality Builders appear to be relying more on the presence of an experienced inspector to arrive at the end of the process to help provide the necessary punch-list to be completed by the Builder before the new buyers take ownership. This is actually Magnolia’s approach to new construction inspections. “I see our job when inspecting new construction homes as serving the best interests, primarily of our clients but also everyone involved. Home inspectors should never be in competition with the Builder, quite the opposite. Quality Builders care about the interests of home buyers and welcome inspectors with a construction background as part of the process to help deliver the best quality product to the buyer. The best inspectors are willing to crawl into the most uncomfortable areas of a home to advise on detail finishes that may prevent emergency phone calls for failing HVAC equipment, water leaks and other catastrophic problems that Builders never intended to happen.”
At Magnolia, our Inspector’s primary aim is to use our construction experience to help our client’s protect their investment while making the most informed decision possible. Home inspectors with construction experience can have the deepest understanding of what to look for, how to resolve and the whys behind many issues in homes while highlighting the difference between common and uncommon construction defects.
Foundation cracks in a new construction home??? Yes, it does happen. The cost of a new construction inspection should yield a return on investment when your home inspector is a professional with a construction background! For those still in doubt, see our New Construction Report of the various major defects we have found!