We’ve written before about the importance of having an inspection performed while a home is being built. There’s a good reason why we’re returning to this topic. If you’re a family making a huge investment in a home, New Construction Phase Inspections can save you money and provide peace of mind—from an unbiased and certified home inspector—that the job is being done right and that you won’t have any regrets once you move in.
New Construction Phase Inspections involve an inspector checking the foundation, basement, and crawlspace after the exterior foundation walls are finished (Phase 1); inspecting electrical, plumbing, HVAC, framing, and other systems prior to drywall being hung (Phase 2); and a “walkthrough” of the home once it has been completed (Phase 3).
For this week’s blog, we’re taking a deeper look at some of the problems an inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, might find during the critical pre-drywall evaluation. Traditional home inspections are non-invasive, meaning your inspector won’t be cutting holes in the drywall to get a better look at a suspected issue. Once the drywall is in place, what’s hidden behind it will not be accessible for observation by the inspector. The Pre-Drywall inspection becomes an invaluable tool to assess potential concerns that could be more costly and difficult to correct later on.
Of further value, the Pre-Drywall Inspection report comes with photographs of the home, which can serve as important documentation throughout its life (imagine passing this on to future buyers as evidence of the quality of the construction). Finally, this phase presents a great opportunity to ask your inspector questions about the home as you both get a firsthand look at the bones of the structure. Please note that this inspection phase does come with limitations. For example, the inspector is not required to determine the structural integrity of any component. Here are some of the elements covered during the inspection:
Floor System: The inspector will note any deficiencies in the visible parts of floor joists, trusses, sill, and sole plates, beams, girders, floor sheathing, fasteners, and other components. Cut joists, incorrectly used hangers, and the missing or wrong type of nails are some potential issues.
Wall System: This includes assessing vertical and horizontal structural components, beams, headers, fasteners, permanent wall bracing, vertical load paths, fire-blocking, and other areas.
Roof System: The inspector will observe ceiling joists, rafters, trusses, rafter ties, collar ties, bridging and lateral support members, ridge boards, openings and penetrations in the roof, sheathing, attic access openings, ventilation, roof covering materials, flashing, skylights, and chimney exteriors.
Heating and Cooling: Among other things, the inspector will check distribution ducts and pipes; whether there is a heating and cooling source in habitable rooms; accessibility of HVAC equipment; vents and flues (and adequate clearance); loose or insufficiently elevated equipment; and clearances to combustible materials.
Plumbing System: This entails visually inspecting interior water supply distribution components; interior drain, waste, and vent; interior water supply supports and insulation; vents and flues; fuel storage and distribution; proper component clearances; and backwater valves. The final report may list a number of concerns—everything from a plumbing vent that does not exit the attic to drain lines sloped in the wrong direction.
Electrical System: The inspector will perform a visual check of the service drop; service lateral; service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways; grounding electrodes and grounding electrode conductors; panelboards; branch circuit and feeder conductors; switch boxes; and other components. The inspector will also look for the presence of lighting boxes at stairways, kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and other areas.
Electrical Outlets: This is a good time to assess if the contractor has installed a sufficient number of electrical outlets in each room. As you go from room to room, think hard about the number of outlets you will need to plug in your devices. Your inspector will point out if the standard number of outlets have been provided and properly located. It is much easier and more cost-effective to fix this problem now rather than wait until after the drywall has been hung.
Other parts of the inspection include windows and doors, stairways, exterior wall covering, ceiling height, the width of hallways, and exhaust systems for the clothes dryer, kitchen, and bathrooms.