You’re in the process of buying a newly-built home and you’re wondering, “Should I have my new home inspected?”. My answer is a clear and resounding, “Yes, hire your own home inspector. “. Houses are being built so quickly, there’s too much room for error.
The purpose of this article is to convince you that just because a house is new doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Since safety is the major theme of this article and the other articles on safetyproductsforthehome.com, I’ll focus on safety issues. I saw many defects when I inspected newly-built homes, but I will only speak about those that present a safety concern.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Here is just a sampling of safety-related deficiencies I found on and in new homes. Few words are needed to explain them. I hope they convince you to have your new home inspected before you close. The best time for a home inspection is a day or two before your final walk-through, when the yard is sodded and the home is ready to be occupied.
Easy entry for vermin
This may not be a hazard if the home is in the city, but out in the county this could be a nice entry for poisonous snakes, not to mention other unwanted vermin. You would probably not notice something like this on your walk-through because this fireplace combustion air duct cover is at or below knee level. I had to get really low to see it.
“Hot” wire under kitchen sink
I found these exposed “hot” (energized) wires in the cabinet under a kitchen sink. You can’t see the bare copper wires in this image but you can see the red light on the tester indicating a potential electrocution hazard! This hazard was found one day before move-in. Can you imagine what might have happened had the buyers not hired me, an independent inspector, to inspect their new home?
Gas leak in attic
As I entered the attic on a new home inspection, I smelled natural gas. I used a gas detector to pinpoint the leak in the gas line at the furnace. You don’t need a gas detector to detect a leak, but you do need a good sense of smell. And you need to know that smelling even the faintest odor of gas means there is a leak somewhere. I couldn’t help but wonder how the guy who was in the attic just before me didn’t smell the gas?
Furnace exhaust leak
I conducted several home inspections for people prior to the end of their one-year warranty. This client was surprised to learn that his furnace exhaust duct was not properly connected. Whether the HVAC contractor was at fault or another contractor knocked it loose later is irrelevant. The point is, had this client had an inspection prior to closing, this likely would have been noticed and could have been corrected. Instead, dangerous exhaust gases were discharged into the attic all winter long. Thankfully, to my knowledge no one was affected by the leak.
Unsafe dryer duct system
For safety reasons, a dryer system duct cover should have a back-draft damper and no screen. This image was taken during a warranty inspection (weeks before the one-year warranty expired). Notice the lint build-up behind a screen on the dryer exhaust system’s duct cover. This was a fire hazard waiting to happen. Had this home been professionally inspected when it was first purchased, the screen would have been noticed and this potential fire hazard avoided. Thankfully there was no fire.
A few other safety concerns I encountered during the inspections of newly-built homes include but are not limited to:
- Attic flooring too thin – could result in someone falling through the floor.
- No anti-tip device on the oven or range – possible burn/scald hazard; crushing from tip-over.
- Faulty arc fault outlet – risk of electrical shock or fire.
- Improper mounting of attic pull-down ladders – could result in a fall.
- Pull-down ladder in garage not fire rated – fire hazard.
- Deadbolt hole too shallow – home security issue.
These are just a handful of safety deficiencies I’ve come across during newly-built home inspections. How many would you have noticed during your walk-through? Be sure to hire your own home inspector, be sure he let’s you be present during the inspection, and ask a lot of questions (though you may have to save your questions until the end of the inspection).
It is fair to say that not every newly-built home has defects such as the ones listed above. Are you willing to take the chance though? I could show you many more photos of issues I encountered during inspections of newly built homes, but this article isn’t about home inspections.
Please feel free to share your experience. Please do not use personal or business names.