New-Home Buyers May Want to Consider ‘Phase Inspections’

Newly built properties are not flawless. Bringing in an inspector for multiple checkups during construction can solve problems early.

New-home buyers may want to bring an inspector into the construction process earlier and at multiple intervals—such as when the foundation is poured and again before the walls are sealed.

Adam Long, president of HomeTeam Inspection Service, which has 200-plus offices nationwide, says “phase inspections” can offer extra assurance that a home is built correctly every step of the way. “Once all the walls are in place, you cannot see what’s behind,” Long says.

Phase inspections give buyers an opportunity earlier in the construction process to pinpoint any potential problems and request fixes from builders. Common phase inspections include an inspector visiting the property to assess the following:

  • Foundation: Prior to the slab getting poured, inspectors can evaluate the surface preparation for the home as well as assess sewer and drain lines.
  • Pre-drywall: This is completed prior to the installation of the home’s insulation and drywall and before the walls are closed up. This is a prime time for inspectors to get a look at the plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, duct installation and roof structural frame.
  • Final punch-out: This is the type of home inspection most buyers have done prior to closing. Inspectors evaluate the home’s plumbing, electrical, home systems, roof, doors and windows. However, at this stage, inspectors can base their evaluations only on what they can see. “Home inspectors can’t report it if they can’t see it,” Long says. “We don’t take pieces of drywall out or lift carpet up. So, we can’t see issues that can’t be seen.”

Long says home buyers considering a phase inspection will want to look for inspectors who have additional training in new-home construction. Inspector fees can vary significantly for these extra checks, but a buyer could expect to pay around $150 to $200 per phase inspection.

Long says new-home buyers also might want to consider one more extra inspection at the 10- to 11-month mark. Most homebuilders offer a one-year warranty for repairs and will agree to complete punch lists provided by the buyer after the home has had time to settle.

‘New’ Doesn’t Mean Perfect

Many buyers say they want a newly built home in order to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity, according to research from the National Association of REALTORS®. But quality issues can still be uncovered, even on a new home, Long says.

Sixty-five percent of buyers who purchased a new home say they uncovered problems during an inspection, according to a 2022 survey from Clever Real Estate.

Also, many buyers report that after moving into a new home, they faced premature repairs or maintenance, such as on electrical systems, plumbing, the foundation and drywall, the 2022 survey found. 

Source: REALTOR® Magazine