New Construction Inspections

Published in the June issue of St Johns Magazine:

There are many different types of residential home inspections. Many are done at the transfer of a home, some for the seller, and some for the buyer. Other inspections are done for insurance agents. These include a four-point and a wind mitigation; these are how some people qualify for property insurance, and others qualify for property insurance discounts. Additionally, there are the new home construction inspections. These consists of construction monitoring, new construction, and 11-month warranty inspections. With the extraordinary surge in new home construction in northern St. Johns County, these are increasingly popular.

Construction monitoring is different from any other type of inspection. A typical home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of the house and its components to determine if everything is functioning as intended. Depending on the size of the house it can take just a few hours to complete. Inspectors conducting construction monitoring inspections are following the building process for many months ensuring that everything is either built or installed to code. This can be very helpful for homeowners who don’t live in the area or for those who have little building experience. If you’re thinking about hiring one of these inspectors, talk to your builder first. Builders will typically allow an inspector on the work site but usually aren’t thrilled about it. You should look for an inspector who has the insurance that the builder will demand and if possible, for one who has experience as a builder and knows the construction process.

The next variation is the new home inspection. This is done after the construction is finished but prior to the buyer moving in. In many cases it’s in lieu of, or in conjunction with, the buyer’s final walk-through before settlement. For buyers this inspection provides move in peace of mind; they have assurance that the visible structure, components, and appliances all function as intended. This is a full home inspection and is priced accordingly. One drawback to this type of inspection is the amount of time that some problems can take to surface. If one or more roof component has been installed incorrectly for example, evidence of the ensuing leak may not show up for months. This can lead to costly repairs and headaches down the road.

The last type of new construction home inspection is the 11-month warranty inspection. Although I wouldn’t discourage anyone from having construction monitoring, of the three inspection types discussed here, the 11-month warranty may make the most sense for some people from both a practical and financial standpoint. The advantages are that after 11 months the house has had time to settle and evidence of problems may have appeared. It’s also an advantage that the home owner has had an opportunity to get to know the house. If you decide to go this route, make sure to ask the home inspection company if they have special rates for 11-month warranty inspections; most won’t. In their defense, they charge their full home inspection fee because they’re doing their full home inspection, the same inspection they would do for a new buyer who doesn’t know anything about the house they’re trying to purchase. But you do know your home, you’ve lived in it for 11 months so there are many things that the inspector doesn’t have to inspect. For example, you know if your appliances work, you know if your windows go up and down smoothly, you know if your cabinets are missing hardware, and you know if your doors latch properly. You probably don’t know if you have problems with your roof that only walking on it can reveal, or what’s behind your electric panel cover, or if you have a moisture problem in your attic. An 11-month inspection is more collaborative than any other type of inspection.

Builders aren’t perfect, so regardless of which inspection type you choose, it’s important to have a certified professional inspector (CPI) inspect your builder’s work at some point in the process. Don’t let your builder off the hook. Make sure you get the quality home you deserve.

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