Whenever you purchase a home, one of the first steps you complete after having your offer accepted is arranging a home inspection. This vital process gives you more insight into the state of the plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC, and other aspects of the property that weren't immediately visible during your walk-throughs. However, many homeowners-to-be are surprised to know this inspection process is just as important when purchasing a new build or a custom-built home. We Build Realty
is a full-service home-building organization in Florida and California, and we strive to provide high-quality services, both during design and construction. In this guide, you can learn more about how home inspections work, why they're important for new builds, and how to use your home inspection reports.
What is a home inspection?
Home inspections are a comprehensive inspection of a property before a transaction is completed. It focuses on safety and quality elements to ensure the property is safe for the new owners to live in or use. Inspectors examine the property's structural elements, electrical work, plumbing, compliance with fire and safety codes, and other aspects. They provide a full report on the inspection results, flag items that present an immediate risk, and note problems that may need modification in the future.
Is a home inspection required on a new build?
Home inspections on new constructions — or even pre-existing properties — are not legally required for you to purchase a property. However, they are always strongly recommended, and sellers are legally required to allow an inspection to take place within the option period. The same is true for in-progress new builds — builders must allow third-party inspections at key points throughout construction so the buyer can monitor the quality of the property.
Three reasons to get an inspection on a new build
There are many different reasons to get an inspection on a home, no matter how old or new it is. Because purchasing a home is such a significant financial decision, taking steps like scheduling inspections can go a long way in ensuring you're making a smart investment. Consider these benefits of new-build inspections:
1. Complete insight through phase inspections
If you're having a home built, you have a unique opportunity to use inspections and assess parts of the construction that are very hard to reach — or even repair — after completion. Phase inspections usually occur at these stages of construction:
- Pre-pour inspection: Your inspector can assess the layout and plumbing fixtures before the concrete foundation slab is poured.
- Pre-drywall inspection: Once the house is framed, inspectors can ensure everything is correctly placed and up to code before the drywall obscures it.
- Final inspection: This is most similar to a traditional home inspection, as the inspector reviews all the pertinent interior and exterior fixtures for safety and compliance.
- Builder's warranty inspection: If your builder has a one-year warranty program, the inspector can flag any problems that occurred during the first year after completion.
Multiple inspections along the construction journey provide you with unique insight into the property and allow for integral repairs.
2. Have peace of mind
Ultimately, the key benefit of inspections is that they can give buyers peace of mind. Sometimes, mistakes can be made at active construction sites. The layout of a custom home may be slightly off, or a step might have been left incomplete on a checklist. When you have third-party inspectors evaluate the property, you know that safety standards and building code requirements are being followed.
3. Have documentation to negotiate repairs
If a construction company doesn't complete a stage correctly, they should always go back and fix it. However, some companies may be rushed, dismissive, or unwilling to deviate from their schedule. Having a third-party report from a licensed home inspector is a valuable tool in negotiating repairs, cost adjustments, and other corrections.
What's the difference between a home inspection and a home appraisal?
So far in this article, you've taken a closer look at home inspections. However, there is a similar process almost all homes must undergo: a home appraisal. This is a requirement set by mortgage lenders to ensure the property is valued for at least the amount of the mortgage loan. During a home appraisal, a certified third-party appraiser inspects the home exterior and data of comparable homes in the neighborhood to assign an appraisal value to the property.
If you are purchasing a home as an all-cash buy, this process isn't necessary. Different lenders also require different degrees of scrutiny throughout the appraisal process based on the organization's internal processes, the estimated value of the home, and the location.
How to choose a home inspector
There are dozens of different home inspection companies to choose from. While all must perform to certain standards established by the state, it's important to find one that you have confidence in and one that can offer the degree of service you want. As you start searching for a home inspector, consider:
- What additional services they offer on top of standard home inspections, such as phase inspections for new builds, foundation inspections, and other specialty work.
- Their history of performance, which you can gauge through online ratings and reviews.
- Referrals from your realtor. Most agents maintain a network of reliable professionals that you can use to find available inspectors.
Best practices for getting the most out of your home inspection
Follow these helpful best practices to ensure you get as much information and value from your inspections as possible:
Meet the inspector with your realtor after the inspection
Talk with the inspector to get a feel for their opinion of the property. They can help you understand the report, walk you through the property so you have a clearer understanding of the notes, and even provide opinions they may not have felt belonged in the report.
Know that long reports are good reports
When you receive a home inspection report with a long list of flagged items, it can feel overwhelming. However, you didn't choose a bad property — you chose a good inspector. Their job is to flag everything that is or could be a potential problem.
Bring up issues with the construction company and get any resulting repairs inspected
If there are errors in the construction of your home, the builders need to fix them. Bring up the problems, get written confirmation they will be fixed, and have the repairs inspected.
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