Goodspeed: Always get a home inspection

LINDA GOODSPEED
CORRESPONDENT

QUESTION: We have put an offer on a newly built home and are wondering if a home inspection is really necessary.

ANSWER: My answer to this question is always, ‘Yes’ you should absolutely have a home inspection. Interestingly enough, new buildings can have more hidden problems than older properties whose defects have manifested themselves over time. But new or old, a buyer should always insist on having a professional home inspection before purchasing a property. This is the largest purchase you will make. You want to make sure it is in good condition.

According to Criterium-Dudka Engineers in Hopkinton, problems in newer properties are rarely found in the materials and equipment, but rather are due primarily to workmanship and water in all its forms.

For example, new grading is prone to experience settlement. Another example is the building envelope. The building envelope includes the exterior materials, siding, doors, windows and roof surfaces. 

As mentioned earlier, water or air infiltration problems are not due to defects in materials, but rather improper flashing, poor use of fasteners and not following manufacturer’s installation recommendations. A review of the manufacturer’s specifications can be the most productive inspection technique.

Other important inspection areas include wood flooring. Floorboards separating or buckling is a commonly reported problem in newly installed solid wood floors. Assuming the floor has not experienced a recent flooding event, movement of solid wood floors is often due to the installer not allowing the floor to acclimate to the interior humidity level.

If the floor material is not stored for a few days in the home’s environment prior to being installed, floor movement can result.

One of the most common plumbing problems is the improper reversal of the hot- and cold-water piping. Also, ductwork is not always sealed during construction, resulting in ducts full of dust and debris.

And even if full paint coverage is called for in the specifications, sometimes areas such as basements, closet ceilings and other less visible spaces can be overlooked. All of these problems can be turned up in an inspection.

The HVAC system should be reviewed using anemometers to measure air flow and temperature readings at floor and wall registers. Room temperature controls can also be adversely affected when placed where direct sunlight can reach them. Other issues that can crop up include unauthorized substitutions or incomplete work.

A review of the project specifications can reveal inferior material or equipment has been substituted or not completed or up to code.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.