I'm Buying New Construction.. Do I Really Need a Home Inspection?

There are many perks of buying new construction, but keep in mind the word “new” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect.” There is a common misconception that a brand new home doesn’t require a traditional home inspection. After all, it’s been built from scratch, customized to your needs, and no one has lived there yet… what could possibly be wrong? But the truth is, no matter the age of your home, an inspection can provide invaluable insights and prevent costly repairs. 

What is a home inspection?
If your brand new property happens to be your first home, you may not be familiar with the home inspection process. So, let’s set the stage. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a home inspection is “an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.”

ASHI says a standard home inspection report covers “the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system (temperature permitting); interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.”

Why would I need one if I’m buying new construction?
After reading the above explanation, it’s easy to see why an inspection would be beneficial for those buying an existing home. But, if your home is brand new, you shouldn’t have any problems, right? Though it would seem that new homes should be error-free, according to many local professionals, finding problems in new construction is more common than buyers realize. 

Jason Murton with Accurate Inspections, LLC says this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the builder, it just happens to be the nature of the beast. 

“There are thousands of components used in constructing a new home, and you have different trades and subcontractors coming in and out all the time,” he said. “The general contractor can’t be there 24/7, so there is always a chance that something could get missed.” 

According to National Property Inspections, some common issues found during new construction home inspections include structural defects, drainage and grading issues, window leaks, HVAC issues, electrical problems, and plumbing issues. 

This probably triggers another question: don’t building inspectors make sure a new home is up to par before certifying occupancy? In theory, yes, but again, things can be missed.

“I’ve inspected a brand new home that was given occupancy, but did not have any insulation in the attic,” said Murton. “I’ve found framing problems, improperly installed products, heating systems not properly connected, etc. And it’s not intentional… in a project this large there is always the chance for human error.”

Jim Haeck, owner of Capital Area Home Inspections, LLC, is not only a home inspector, but also a home builder who always encourages his clients to conduct a professional inspection.

“I welcome the second set of eyes because I want to provide a quality product for my clients, and I think any reputable builder would feel the same way,” he said. “And, in my experience as an inspector, most builders take care of issues quickly because they want to make sure their clients are satisfied with the end result.”  

What else do I need to know?
Haeck says another inspection topic often ignored by new build buyers is radon.

“I think there is a misconception that it’s not something to worry about in new construction, but radon is produced from the natural breakdown of uranium found in most rocks and soils, so it can be found in homes of any age,” he said.

And, Dan Bacon, home inspector and president of Absolute Environmental Solutions, LLC, says, ideally, buyers of new construction would conduct two inspections – one during the building process and one after it’s complete.

“If we can get in there while the walls are opened up, we have access to the framing, electrical, insulation, etc., and if any problems turn up, you can get a list to the builder so they can make corrections before the walls are closed,” he said.

Once construction is finished, your inspector should review the house again to ensure there aren’t any last-minute issues.

“When purchasing new construction, buyers expect things to be done correctly and they want that peace of mind that the home was built to the best of standards,” said Bacon. “To protect your investment, it’s worth the price of an inspection to prevent more costly repairs down the road.”

For a list of local, professional home inspectors, visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at www.lansing-realestate.com