A newly built home should be perfect, right? I mean that they just completed construction, so what can be wrong. Well, the details may be the issue.
I walk with the client during my home inspection, and I point out an issue with the hydro-therapy tub. The client explained to me that this was not a problem, because the builder had already explained this to him, and showed him that it was not a problem. The issue was access to the motor for the tub. There was none. The builder had explained that the access panel to the drain was the access to the motor, so if I told the client that there was no access, I was misinforming him. I had to explain that the panel was just a panel. The builder had forgotten to cut the access hole. I also had to explain that this was where the drain was located, and that the motor was probably somewhere else. Where? I did not know, because there was no access. As we continued our walk, I had to dispel more misinformation delivered by the builder, and this bothered me. Good builders explain to their clients why the built the way they did, and what the resolution to this situation is. For example, the hydro-therapy tub may not have access, but the builder can leave extra tiles to deal with the fact that a plumber will have to break the tile to access the motor. Many builders do tell their clients that the home inspector will bring this up, and this is what they have done as a solution.
What else did I find? Most things are easy fixes for the builder, and can be quite visible to my clients. This photograph is of a door. Obviously, the builder has not completed the trim work, even though he said the home was ready for sale. This was an obvious fix that would be noticed during the walk-through. The client noticed the stairs that did not have trim at the base, but who would notice that the trim over the windows was not properly attached? We do not notice some issues that are not in our line of sight. In this home, inserts for the door handles were missed. Some insulation was missed. Filters were not installed in return chases for the air conditioning system, and the client did not know that some vents were simply intended to equalize pressure in the home. An issue that would have been hard to spot was the tool stuck into the shingles at the very top ridge. There were simply many little things.
If everything is a small issue, then maybe I do not need a home inspector. Maybe. Most of these items could have been reported by the client to the builder if the client knows what to examine, and if the client is willing to crawl over the entire home. Some things we do not consider. I saw several contractors working for a builder notice that there was no water in the home. All of these workers found their own way around this problem. The cleaning crew went to another home for water. The yard crew set up their sprinklers on the lawn, ready to go, then they left. I could not find the water meter. Since I reported that the meter had been buried, the builder sent a crew out to find the meter, and they placed the box in position. The biggest problem that I find usually has to do with the air conditioning system. Specifically the heater is not tested when a home is built in the summer. My clients typically believe that since the cooling system is working, the heater is working, especially since this is a new home. Sometimes they are right, but I have found heating systems that do not work, because the installation was not completed.
I believe that most builders intend to do the best for their clients. Often problems are failures of communication. However, I know that my clients will benefit from my knowledge, or from any other home inspector. A home is a complex system, and the builder may not be going through every aspect to see the issues. The home inspector fills this position.