Home Inspection Basics for New Construction

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A thorough home inspection is critical to a positive purchase experience, and if the house is new construction, inspection requirements multiply. Instead of assessing a home that has been modified over its lifetime to meet evolving state and local codes, a professional home inspector must ensure that all a new home's materials and systems are up-to-the-minute and capable of keeping inhabitants safe and comfortable.
If you're about to build or buy a

A thorough home inspection is critical to a positive purchase experience, and if the house is new construction, inspection requirements multiply. Instead of assessing a home that has been modified over its lifetime to meet evolving state and local codes, a professional home inspector must ensure that all a new home's materials and systems are up-to-the-minute and capable of keeping inhabitants safe and comfortable.

If you're about to build or buy a new construction home, get acquainted with the three types of inspections required and what to expect from the professional home inspector doing the work.

Three kinds of new construction inspections

- Phase inspections: Phase inspections are conducted during the construction process, and may be contracted with either the builder or homebuyer. They coincide with four or five defined stages of the building process: 1) underground and foundation prior to concrete pour; 2) rough framing, electrical, plumbing and HVAC; 3)insulation (which is optional); 4) building wrap prior to concrete pour; and 5) a final inspection including the roof.

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- End-of-construction inspection: This one-time inspection is also known as a walk-through inspection, and is done on the homebuyer's behalf when the finished home is delivered. An end-of-construction inspection covers all the home's major systems from roof to foundation, including HVAC, interior plumbing, electrical, attic and insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and all components of the visual structure.

- Warranty inspection: The warranty inspection is performed one year after delivery of the new home, and is almost always contracted with the homebuyer. It covers most of the same things as the end-of-construction inspection, with the inspector examining quality of materials and installation as well as performance against codes and manufacturer specs.

What to look for in a new construction home inspector

- Professional certifications and credentials, which may be confirmed through an inspector's membership in the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

- Clear communication of which inspections will be done (some professionals may specialize in one of the above-mentioned inspections, while others can handle all three), and what each inspection will entail.

- If possible, code certification that confirms an inspector is familiar with building codes and their regional or local interpretations.

- Skill with the basics of home construction, either through direct experience or formal training.

- Documented proof of insurance (often required by builders before an inspector enters a property under construction).

- Organization and preparedness for every inspection situation, including an up-to-date compilation of code information for easy on-site reference and orderly, current inspection paperwork.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show's podcast or sign-up for Tom's free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program's website.

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