By now, you and most people know the wisdom behind property inspections. Everyone wants to ensure their home is a safe and sound place to live and overall, a good investment. When you see a brand-new house, you might easily assume that everything is in good order. The manicured lawn, the fresh paint and the immaculate floors can get you excited into closing the sale and forego a home inspection altogether. After all, everything, from the shingles to the iron nails, is new and should be in good shape. What could go wrong?
Brand-new homes can have problems
Actually, only so many things can go wrong: malfunctioning electrical outlets, faulty drain line connections, balky windows, exhaust fans that vent nowhere, shoddy paint jobs in tight spaces, improperly installed insulation. The construction of a house involves many different subcontractors and workers each working on different areas and systems. While builders do their best to coordinate tasks, all the work is being done simultaneously and at many different levels that it is impossible to inspect each phase by detail. Even the best builders will miss something.
When homebuyers mistakenly believe that new means sturdy and safe, they forego any stage of property inspection, sometimes even the final walkthrough with the builder, and merely rush to grab the house keys. Only after they have settled in do they discover the defects. A scratched tub is nothing compared with an unsteady foundation due to carelessly put up ductwork.
Municipal inspections are minimal
Unlike a home inspection conducted by an independent firm, property inspections done by the council are not nearly as thorough and exacting as you would reasonably expect. For one, they do not check for the quality of materials and workmanship. For another, their aim is really just to check whether the house has been built to comply with applicable building codes. Take note that building codes are only minimum standards. What’s more, council inspectors are usually understaffed and operate on a shoestring budget but are laden with a whole city or county’s worth of inspections. These factors provide little time or motivation to be comprehensive. In some cases, like subdivisions, property inspections are done on a representative number of houses only. Uninspected homes may contain defects and violations that go undetected in the process.
Problems found before paying can be fixed
The best and most ethical builders can build you an exceptional home but not a perfect house. The thousands of components, innumerable details, various people and simultaneous work that all need to come together cannot possibly be overseen as they are being done just by one person. Scrutinising every aspect and soundness of the entire construction project is impossible. To catch as many problems at all stages as possible, have your new house examined by an independent inspector during these phases: exterior wall and roof frame construction, open wall or pre-insulation stage and final walkthrough. The first two phases are actually the most important since the framework needs to be sound to hold up the rest of the house. More importantly, once the drywall goes up, it will conceal any substandard work on your home’s basic structures.
Builders typically conduct the final walkthrough to orient you on how to operate, maintain and service your home’s amenities and point the locations of important control devices, among others. This is your chance to tour the home and uncover any of the numerous possible defects before you finally move in. Actually though, this is your opportunity to spot and have problems corrected by the builder. For this reason, you should be extremely meticulous during the walkthrough. Remember, you will have to live with what you don’t find before you close the sale. Bringing an inspector with you at this time to make the final round of inspections will help ensure you avoid any problems down the line.
A conscientious builder will make his own final rounds of the house to spot and repair problems before the homebuyer ever finds them. But these builders are few. If your builder tells you that he/she won’t fix anything that’s not a code violation, put your foot down and refuse back. Shoddy work is shoddy work, and it should be put right. Whether or not a violation was made, builders should see to the repairs as per their warranty. But don’t take their word for it either, especially if the work was substandard to begin with. See to it that your inspector checks the problem again to make sure the job was done properly.
It may become clear by now that the builder and inspector may not exactly see eye to eye, given the nature of their respective jobs. But this is why you hired an inspector, in the first place. The inspector’s pay does not depend on getting the house sold, which puts him/her in a better position to be neutral. Be wary of uncooperative builders that refuse entry to inspectors, especially while much of the construction work is ongoing. If they have nothing to hide, why are they preventing an on-site property inspection? You should think hard about buying the house at this point and while at it, consult your attorney.
No house, old or new, is defect-free
A home is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. And once you’ve bought it, you own all its problems. Thus, you should go through the home buying and house hunting process with the full knowledge that there is no such thing as a defect-free house. Too many variables need to be kept tabs on to ensure that a house is flawless. For that reason, getting a property inspection professional on your side is an essential task before you finalise the purchase of new, or any property of any age, for that matter. In Melbourne, property inspections are indispensable in ensuring that your house is every inch your dream home.