New-Home Buyers May Want to Consider ‘Phase Inspections’

New home buyers may want to involve an inspector earlier and at multiple intervals in the construction process – for example, when pouring the foundation and again before waterproofing the walls.

Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service, which has 200 offices nationwide, says “phased inspections” can provide additional assurance that a home is being built correctly at every step. “Once all the walls are up, you can’t see what’s behind them,” Long says.

Phased inspections give buyers the opportunity to pinpoint potential problems and request corrections from builders earlier in the construction process. Common phased inspections include an inspector visiting the property to assess:

  • Foundation, endowment: Before the slab is poured, inspectors can evaluate the home's surface preparation and assess sewer and drain lines.
  • Before drywalling: This is completed before installing the home's insulation and drywall and before closing the walls. This is the best time for inspectors to take a look at plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, ductwork, and roof framing.
  • Final Punch-Out: This is the type of home inspection that most buyers have completed before closing. Inspectors evaluate the home's plumbing, electrical and home systems as well as the roof, doors and windows. However, at this stage, inspectors can only base their assessments on what they can see. “Home inspectors can’t report it if they can’t see it,” Long says. “We don’t remove drywall or lift up carpet. So we can’t see problems that aren’t visible.”

Long says home buyers considering a phase-in inspection should look for inspectors who have additional training in new home construction. Inspection fees for these additional inspections can vary significantly, but a buyer can expect to pay approximately $150 to $200 per phase inspection.

Long says new home buyers may also want to consider another additional inspection after 10 to 11 months. Most home builders offer a one-year warranty on repairs and agree to complete buyer-provided punch lists after the home has had time to settle.

“New” doesn’t mean perfect

According to a study by the National Association of REALTORS®, many buyers want a newly built home to avoid renovations and plumbing or electrical problems. But even with a new home, quality issues can still be uncovered, Long says.

According to a 2022 survey by Clever Real Estate, 65 percent of buyers who purchased a new home say they discovered problems during an inspection. According to respondents, the following problems were the most common:

Additionally, many buyers report experiencing untimely repairs or maintenance after moving into a new home, such as electrical, plumbing, foundation and drywall, the 2022 survey found.

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