Q: Should I hire an independent home inspector to look over a newly built tract home?
Deborah D., Renton, Wash.
A: What you’re considering is a good idea, say experts in home inspection, real estate and home building.
Even though there should be periodic local government inspections during the construction process, and even if you have a home warranty, getting feedback from an independent and reputable home inspector is like added insurance against major costs should a problem be overlooked.
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Before you close on the new home, arranging for a final, overall post-construction inspection by an objective third party can help ensure that the builder — not you — ends up handling any repairs.
Even the most experienced, reputable builders can make mistakes. They typically rely on a small army of subcontractors to do work ranging from framing to plumbing, electrical and drywall. Certainly, close oversight can alleviate many issues, but the sheer variety and volume of work lends itself to the potential for at least some defects being overlooked before closing.
Examples of issues that inspectors told us they’ve found when looking over newly built homes:
▪ Improperly installed roofs
▪ Faulty wiring
▪ Plumbing leaks
▪ Structural issues
▪ Missing insulation
▪ HVAC systems that don’t work properly
▪ Improper grading
Such problems can affect not only the quality of a new home, but its safety. Home warranties are no guarantee that you’ll get problems fixed for free, either. In the absence of an inspection, it may be difficult to prove that a problem occurred before you took possession of the home. Some issues may go unnoticed until after a warranty expires, too.
The cost for a home inspection can vary, starting at around $400 for a 2,000-square-foot home.
Look for a home inspector with experience, who is appropriately licensed based on local guidelines, and who has positive consumer reviews on a trusted site. Check to see that the inspector belongs to a professional association such as the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Angie Hicks is founder of www.AngiesList.com, provider of consumer reviews and services. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.