Building Code, Quality of Construction, and the Home Inspection – Part 3

This 4-part series will help buyers set and maintain realistic expectations about the home they are purchasing.  Part 3 will cover Home Inspections and New Construction.

Part 3. Home Inspections and New Construction

What inspections will occur when you are buying a new construction home? That may depend on the builder and their policies and procedures. 

Throughout the building process, the high-end builders schedule several walk-throughs with the buyers. And most builders hire third-party companies to perform critical quality inspections. 

Energy efficiency is a good example. The Energy Rating Company conducts onsite inspections and testing* during and after construction to ensure rigorous ENERGY STAR requirements are met. The process typically includes a blower door test to measure whole-house air leakage and a duct blaster test to measure air duct leakage. 

Can you hire your own Home Inspector to perform inspections during the building process?  

Yes, but that does not guarantee that the builder will make any changes recommended by your inspector.  

Most builders will reference the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Standards of Practice to determine tolerances, variations, and acceptable conditions. Builders often include this document in your contract to purchase or at least reference it.  

The document outlines acceptable standards 

For example, what size crack in concrete is a problem?. A small gap may be no problem, but something more significant or something upheaving may indicate an issue that needs to be addressed.   

In addition to the standards of practice, other factors affect the way things are done. Without getting too technical, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  

We have heard Home Inspectors make comments like, “I have never seen it done like that before”. That may be true, but it does not mean it is incorrect. The person responsible for determining what is and is not correct is the Engineer. If building code and engineering conflict, our experience is that the Engineer will often supersede. After all, they are the licensed professional who is signing off on the construction.   

Different Types of New Construction

Not to mention, there are varying types of new construction. There is  

  • “Production Building,”  
  • Semi-Custom, and  
  • Custom.  

There are some significant differences between the types. Knowing the differences and understanding which you are purchasing will go a long way to maintaining your expectations.  

Remember, how much you are spending isn’t necessarily an indicator of the level of quality or construction type. As an example, you could buy a $500k production-built house or a $500k custom home. The quality of construction in the $500k custom home will be much higher. However, it would most likely be a smaller home and in a less desirable location.  

In Part 4, we’ll discuss the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection. 

Let’s connect to guide you through the home buying process.