Professional Inspectors can Save New Homeowners more than Time

New home builders have returned to the market. In many areas they are offering attractive products, and the public seems to be responding.  Which leads to the question:  Is it a good idea to have a third party, presumably a professional, conduct an inspection of a new home?

Undoubtedly yes.

The construction of a single modern home is an impressive feat, and the construction of dozens or scores of them, is quite remarkable.

Things get overlooked, and sometimes, incorrectly installed.   This is inevitable.  That is one reason builders have a walk-through inspection for the buyer shortly before the close of escrow.  It gives buyers the opportunity to determine whether or not everything is OK.  If something is missed at the inspection or goes awry afterwards, homebuilders have the obligation — and are usually willing — to come back and take care of it.  But it is better — far better — to identify a problem before escrow has closed.

The main reason that professional home inspections have become commonplace in the resale market is that purchasers usually lack the expertise to test systems on their own.  Many buyers would not even know what questions to ask (i.e. what tests to perform).  The same holds true for new-home purchasers.

Although it is more likely than not that everything will be working in a new home — it is far from being a certainty, as most builders would acknowledge.  Operational systems such as plumbing, heating and appliances are not the only things to be inspected when purchasing a new home.  Appearances should also be considered.  Here, what I refer to is something that departs from the ordinary duties of a home inspector.

In a resale situation, it is commonplace for a home inspector to note that he or she does not address “cosmetic” issues, or if they do they may note that the item is “only cosmetic.”  Their concern is primarily with those things that are — or ought to be — functional.  But, when a person buys a new home, they expect it to look like a new home.  They are very interested in cosmetic issues.

Nonetheless, it is much too easy for the enthusiastic buyer of a new home — generally delighted to see new appliances, clean windows, and unscratched surfaces — to overlook cosmetic flaws that will become annoyingly apparent later.  That is one more reason to have an inspection conducted by someone with no emotional investment in the property.

In 2001, California Assembly Bill 452 (Correa) was passed into law.  It is codified in Section 11010.11 of the Business and Professions Code.  The legislation provides that, in a newly-constructed residential subdivision, the public report “shall disclose that a prospective buyer has the right to negotiate with the seller [i.e. the builder] to permit inspections of the property by the buyer, or the buyer’s designee, under terms mutually agreeable to the prospective buyer and seller.”  The legislative record shows that the bill’s author did not think that there was a major problem to be solved.  Most builders were already willing to allow third-party inspections, but not all.  The primary purpose of the bill was to create awareness.  New home buyers might not realize that they may employ their own inspectors. It is a good thing for them to know that they can.