People that are having a new home built sometimes pay a home inspector to come out and look for possible areas of concern. But shouldn’t my local building department be doing these inspections as part of the approval process? Yes they should. And most of these local municipal inspectors are very good. But some are so busy they really don’t have the time to look at the small details. It’s a good idea to hire your own personal home inspector even if you are having your home built by a professional contractor or reputable home building company. The idea being…the more eyes you have looking at a new home for quality, the better the final outcome will be. If you decide to hire your own inspector, there are three critical times during the construction process that you will want them to come out.
What Stages Should the Inspector Review? The problem is, most people think of the home inspector as an afterthought. When things are about done, they say, “hey, it’s time to bring our inspector in!” Unfortunately, your inspector can only see so much once everything is covered up. And to be certain, the most important items cannot be inspected when the house is near completion. Assuming a soil engineer inspects before the footings are poured, it would be redundant to have your home inspector check this also…and most wouldn’t know what they are looking at anyway.
So, the first time your home inspector should come out would be just prior to backfill of the foundation. At this stage, he/she should be reviewing the foundation drain tile (or drainage system), waterproofing, exterior foundation insulation, foundation quality items including thickness of wall, height of wall, location on footer…etc. and checking the plan specifications match the work completed.
The second stage for your new home building project for your inspector to review would be just prior to insulation. At this time, your inspector will review the framing structure and rough mechanical systems (HVAC, electrical, and plumbing), the very heart of your new building. He/she will check the framing was completed per code, industry practices and per the manufacturer recommendations (for manufactured components). By doing this inspection prior to insulation, you are able to better see the mechanics of the structure and it makes it easier to make adjustments if problems are found.
The third and final inspection stage is when the home is finished. Here your inspection professional will check mechanical systems and insulation in the attic and basement. They will also review grading for proper pitch, roof details such as flashing and fireplace caps and review all interior mechanical systems were finished properly…just to name a few. On this third finish review, your inspector will look for simple things like…was the hardwood installed perpendicular to the floor joists? Were any holes or notches cut into the basement floor joists and if so, are they within the allowable locations? These are simple items to check that can lead to trouble if done incorrectly and go unnoticed. Blower door tests may also be performed at this time to check the air leakage in your newly completed home.
Hiring your own knowledgeable home inspector is money well spent when they come out during these three critical stages. Any quality home building company will be happy to see another set of eyes on your new home as it is being built. I can say, speaking from the builder’s point of view, it’s always nice to get a glowing endorsement from a knowledgeable inspector that comes through a home we are building.