Reuben Saltzman

Photos from new construction inspections, 2022

New does not mean perfect. We do a ton of new construction home inspections, and our clients never regret hiring us for the home inspection. I could wax on and on about the importance of getting a home inspection on a new construction home, but I’d prefer to let our photos speak for themselves. These are all photos we’ve taken at new construction homes that have already passed all of the permit inspections.

Attics

We frequently find attics with insufficient insulation in new construction homes, because there is no such thing as an attic insulation inspection for new homes. So that’s nothing new. But over the past year, we’ve come across a few attics with absolutely no insulation. And I mean none.

Attics - No insulation in new attic2

Attics - No insulation in new attic

Broken trusses too. The truss manufacturer needs to design the repair for this condition.

Attics - Busted truss

Decks

Check out the diagonal joist, along with all of the joists attached to it. That’s surely more weight than what this single joist should support.

Decks - Diagonal beam

Additionally, there was no support at the end of the joist. It was just nailed into the side of another joist.

Decks - Diagonal beam missing hanger

But we’re not done with this deck; there were several splices in the main beam, which is a no-no.

Deck - Beam splice 2

And furthermore, there was another beam on this deck that was simply supported with toenails. Toenails, I tell you!

Decks - Beam with no hanger

Electrical

One of the staples for the fascia channel pierced a live wire, which energized all of the soffit covering, fascia, gutters, and downspouts. Scary.

Energized soffit and fascia

HVAC

The intake and the exhaust for this air exchanger were installed backward, causing air to blow out of the intake and vice-versa. The exhaust was located near the furnace exhaust, which is normally not a problem… but it’s a safety issue when it’s pulling the furnace’s exhaust gas into the home instead.

HVAC - Air exchanger intake

We don’t see a lot of wood-burning fireplaces anymore, but this home had one. Do you see what’s wrong with the hearth extension?

HVAC - Chimney hearth too short 2

The hearth extension needs to come out at least 16″ from the wall to help protect the floor from hot embers. This was about 4″ too short.

HVAC - Chimney hearth too short1

Not only that, but the metal chimney was touching the roof sheathing in the attic, creating a potential fire hazard.

HVAC - Chimney too close to shearthing

Here’s a pre-drywall inspection where the gas piping was installed in a terrible location. And yes, I know “terrible” is a harsh word, but I mean it. There’s an extremely high potential for some to punch drywall or trim fasteners right through this gas line. The drywall had already been delivered to the house and was going to be installed the day after our inspection.

HVAC - Gas line placement new construction marked up

This next one took me a minute to figure out; do you see the problem with this air exchanger?

HVAC - HRV not accessible

The door that gives access to the filters is hinged at the bottom, as they all are, and it has to swing down to open. The foam at the top prevents the door from opening.

HVAC - HRV not accessible2

When flexible ductwork is used, it’s not supposed to be kinked, crushed, smashed, or bent too tightly. But we see all of these things done all of the time.

HVAC - Kinked ductwork

Plumbing

These next two photos show drain lines that were improperly constructed. If the top of a plumbing trap can’t “see” the vent, the drain may not vent properly.

Plumbing - Improper drain pitch 2

Plumbing - Improper drain pitch

The illustration below from the fine folks at Code Check helps to show what went wrong with the installations above:

CCPM5 - 026 - Trap Arms & Vents

This tub spout was loose at the wall and wasn’t sealed to the wall; water will certainly leak behind the wall at this location.

Plumbing - Loose tub spout at shower wall

This toilet wasn’t sealed to the floor. This is needed to help prevent water and other less pleasant “bathroom liquids” from leaking down underneath the toilet. It’s impossible to clean that space, and it can turn nasty in a hurry if the occupants… well, let’s keep this g-rated. You can use your imagination. But the toilet needs to be sealed at the floor.

Plumbing - Toilet not sealed at floor

This water heater is missing an extension tube on the temperature and pressure relief valve. It’s a tube that directs water down to the floor in case the valve discharges suddenly, to help reduce the potential for accidental scalding.

Plumbing - MIssing T&P Discharge tube 2

And here’s you’ve got a saddle valve in use, which is a no-no under any circumstances in Minnesota… but it’s also attached to a PEX water line, which is especially crazy. No manufacturer of PEX tubing allows this.

Plumbing - Saddle valve on PEX

Structure

It’s fine to put holes in manufactured floor joists, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The photo below shows a 6″ duct going through a manufactured joist that allows a hole only 1/3 the total depth of the joist. This hole was way too big.

Structure - Overbored joist

Here’s a stairway that wasn’t constructed properly; the maximum allowable difference in tread height is 3/8″, but this was much greater. There’s no simple fix for this.

Interior - Stairway risers off

The bottom line? Don’t ever skip the home inspection, whether it’s new construction or not. If you need more evidence about the value of new construction inspections, check out this one-hour class that we put together for licensed Minnesota real estate agents:

5 responses to “Photos from new construction inspections, 2022”

  1. Mark
    May 3, 2022, 7:22 am

    A couple of questions:

    How did you discover the energized soffit? Did you see the staple piercing the wire, or do you randomly test for energized metal?
    Some of the items you found are egregious and obvious code violations. Was the local code enforcement agency notified of their inspector’s sub-par work?

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    May 3, 2022, 1:41 pm

    Hi Mark,

    The homeowner told us someone working on the house got a nasty shock from the gutter. We confirmed that all of the aluminum was energized, and recommended they get an electrician to come out and trace down the cause. We followed up with the homeowner, and they reported the cause back to us. We don’t randomly test for this, however, we would have quickly figured this out the hard way when accessing roof, had the homeowner not told us about it.

    As for notifying the local code enforcement agencies, no. This stuff happens in every city everywhere. If it were limited to just one city, it might be a different story.

  3. Margaret Conable
    May 3, 2022, 7:44 am

    Ok, I’ll bite. How did you find the energized soffit cladding??

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    May 4, 2022, 2:06 pm

    The homeowner told us someone working on the house got a nasty shock from the gutter. We confirmed that all of the aluminum was energized, and recommended they get an electrician to come out and trace down the cause. We followed up with the homeowner, and they reported the cause back to us. We don’t randomly test for this, however, we would have quickly figured this out the hard way when accessing roof, had the homeowner not told us about it.

  5. Michael Bronner
    May 3, 2022, 1:25 pm

    Gosh, had I not known this was in your neck of the woods, I would have said the EXACT same things occur here in GA.

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