Our office will be closed on Thursday, November 24 in observance of Thanksgiving. We will resume normal business hours on Friday, November 25. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Reuben Saltzman

New construction inspections: before closing or before the one-year warranty walk-through?

If you’re buying a new construction home, there are three basic types of home inspections for you to consider. Each home inspection is dependent upon timing, and I’ll shine a light on each type.

Before the drywall goes up: Pre-Drywall Inspection

If you’re involved in the purchase of a new construction home early on in the process, you may have the luxury of getting a Pre-Drywall Inspection. As the name implies, this is an inspection of a home that’s done before the drywall goes up. Some people refer to this as a framing inspection, but it’s more than just framing.

The American Society of Home Inspectors has a set of pre-drywall inspection standards that home inspectors may choose to follow, which lays out exactly what is covered. These inspections should ideally happen after the following components have been installed:

  • Foundation
  • Floor, wall, and roof structural components
  • Plumbing, electrical, and rough-in components
  • Windows and exterior doors

But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. While a full home inspection will take several hours to conduct, pre-drywall inspections typically take up to an hour onsite. Unlike traditional home inspections, we often spend a fair amount of time doing research after the inspection too. There are always new products and construction methods coming to the market, and we see a lot of them doing new construction inspections.

Not only is the framing inspected, but we also look at the exterior envelope, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. A pre-drywall inspection will often identify defects that couldn’t possibly be identified after the drywall has been installed. Also, the cost to fix defects we find during pre-drywall inspections is usually far less than what it would cost if the home were completed, and there is little to no disruption to the home buyer.

Before the closing: Full Home Inspection

The majority of the new construction inspections that we conduct are on homes that have been completely built. These homes have also been fully inspected by the Authority Having Jurisdiction, aka The City. The home should be move-in ready at this point, with the exception of some final cleaning, sometimes. If you’re only going to get one type of inspection on a new construction home, this is the one to get.

If any repairs need to take place, and there’s usually a list, it’s far better to do them now. Having repairs take place in an occupied home is disruptive to everyone living there, and it’s much easier to work in an empty house. Also, some builders seem to be much more accommodating before the purchase has taken place, and not nearly as responsive after the new owners have moved in. Most builders are great, but the unresponsive ones make homeowners very angry, and their stories are the ones that stick with me.

After the closing: 11-Month Inspection / One-Year Inspection

If you missed out on having a full home inspection before the closing, the next best time to get an inspection is before your builder’s one-year warranty is up. This type of inspection is the same as a full home inspection, but the homeowners have intimate knowledge of the home. They know about the dryer that takes forever to dry clothes, the room that is always cold during the winter, and the window that always seems to be drafty.

We always start these inspections with a tour of the home, usually with the occupants guiding us around. They point out their concerns and ask questions, we inspect the house, then we go back around with our clients and show them our findings. The homeowners typically share our reports with their builders, and most builders are very receptive to our findings.

When builders come back out to take care of our findings, neighbors usually take notice. And you know what neighbors do, right? They talk. One 11-month warranty inspection will often turn into a dozen more inspections in the same neighborhood as word gets around.

Conclusion

If the timing works, always get a pre-drywall inspection and a full home inspection before the closing. If you’ve already closed on the home, go for the 11-month warranty inspection. Nobody ever regrets it. For more information about what we find during new construction inspections, check out last week’s blog post: Photos from new construction inspections, 2022.