Building a new home has some incredible advantages. You are able to get exactly what you want and create your own space in a way that buying an already completed home never can. Once you have decided on the location, plan and builder of your new home it is essential that you find a third party to conduct your phased inspections. Though you have probably chosen a builder you feel is trustworthy, there is always the possibility that important steps or elements can be forgotten, or constructed incorrectly. Municipal inspectors are there to check behind the builder, but are often under the stress of too many inspections and not enough time to do a thorough job. Having an uninvolved third party come in to perform a thorough inspection can save you time, money and frustration.
Phased inspections are generally performed on a new build in at least three stages; pre-pour, pre-drywall and final walk-through. While some companies offer more stages, here are three basic phases that are the minimum you should consider:
1. Pre-pour gives the inspector a chance to examine the basic structure of the foundation before concrete is poured and it is too late to make changes. The inspector will look at elements like the grade of steel used, the proper laps of the steel, the quality of the moisture barrier, the openings for sewer lines and more. If you have custom or unusual elements like piers or fireplaces, close inspection is needed to prevent flaws that can seriously interfere with the sound construction of your new home. The foundation is the literal base of your new home, if you begin with problems, there’s a good chance the rest of the house will follow with more.
2. Pre-drywall allows the inspector to check the roughed-in plumbing and electrical work, along with the stability of the framing. Getting an inspection at this point means that any improper wiring, etc. can be fixed before the walls of your home are finished. If you wait until after the drywall is installed, you run the risk of having to cut holes in order to fix the problem. Not only does this cost you time and money, it can be difficult to repair the holes and still achieve a flawless wall.
3. Final walk-through occurs when your builder lets you know the entire home is complete, but before you close on the home. This is the same type of inspection you would experience if you were purchasing a house that was pre-owned. The inspector will check all the systems, the roof and the foundation for any defects or problems. Make sure absolutely everything is complete before you do this inspection. You want to be sure that there are no “we’ll-get-to-it” items that could slip through the cracks before closing.
Most builders warranty their work for a year or more after completion and it is tempting to use this as a reason to skip the phased inspection. But why wait until a problem occurs after you have moved in? If you can sort out any problems before you occupy the home you’ll save yourself time, trouble and a possible conflict with the builder. You may have vetted your builder completely, but trust in them is not the issue. Everyone can make mistakes or have a miscommunication that can lead to a problem. Shortcuts are not unheard of in the construction community and can happen at any phase of the build. By planning a phased inspection you set the stage for a careful build that extends from the contractor to the sub-contractors, to the workers and lets them know that they should strive to do their best work for you.
Having a phased inspection will cost a little more, but your home is one of the most expensive investments you will make and you will depend on it for your comfort for a long time. You are already spending thousands on the construction of your new home; spending a few hundred more is worth the peace of mind it affords, not to mention can save you even more money in the long run. If you figure the cost into your construction budget from the beginning, you’ll have no problems managing this important aspect of the home building process.