Should you do a home inspection on a brand-new home?
This is a question I hear literally every time I sell a new construction property. "Since this house is brand new and covered under Alberta New Home Warranty, do I really need to do a home inspection?
My answer is always the same. I recommend a home inspection even if the property is new and covered under new home warranty for a few different reasons. But before I get started on why I think its a good idea to get the inspection done, I'd like to make it clear that I completely understand why someone may not want to do it. Though I regularly hear a wide variety of reasons, here are just a few of them:
Cost. Obviously, the cost of a home inspection is always the biggest reason why someone wouldn't want to do it. I get it. Buying a new home is an expensive process and that $400-$500 could be used for other things like moving, hiring cleaners, new décor, or one of the many other costs involved with purchasing a home!
Warranty. Why spend the money when everything is covered under Alberta New Home Warranty anyway?
Time.I don't want to (or sometimes simply can’t) take the time off work, or away from other obligations to sit through a home inspection.
My Family/friend/co-worker told me not to. This is a big one. Because a friend or relative had an uneventful home inspection (meaning the home inspector found no issues with the home), they end up telling people in their sphere that they don't need it and save the money.
Unnecessary. But isn’t this house brand new? It was just built, how could there possible be problems with it already?
These are just a few of the reason's I hear regularly from clients I work with, and to be honest, some of these are valid... However, the reasons why you would do a home inspection, in my opinion, far outweighs the reasons not to. I'm going to tell you what I advise my clients when they ask, and although it's highly recommended to do it, at the end of the day it is completely your choice whether or not you do one.
Peace of Mind
The biggest reason to do a home inspection, for me, is PEACE OF MIND. Seriously, you are purchasing something that is costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars. To spend a few hundred dollars up front just to know for sure that the home you are buying is solid home, with no major concerns, is invaluable as far as I'm concerned. Chances are, nothing major will come up. We have some pretty reputable builders in our city, and they do great work, but if there is anything experience has taught me, it is that anything can happen. If something can go wrong, there is a chance it will... eventually… to someone. Isn’t it best to do everything possible to make sure it’s not you?
To illustrate my point, I'll give you an example of a situation I personally experienced. A couple years back, I was helping a client purchase a home in a beautiful south Edmonton community. We had found something they liked in new construction, built by a very reputable builder. The same reluctance came up about why they should pay for the inspection on a brand-new home, etc,. I had given my onion on the matter and they decided to move forward with the inspection, solely for the peace of mind. During the inspection, the home inspector found what looked to be mold developing in the basement in a small piece of drywall located behind the mechanical and washer/dryer. Obviously, this was a health concern, especially because my clients had a small child. Though in this case it wasn't harmful, it was still enough cause for concern to get to the bottom of it. This is not a common occurrence for a new home. In this case the springtime rainfall had been significant, and, at some point, one of the tradespeople who were constructing the house had accidentally left a basement window open over the weekend, causing the basement to flood. It wasn't drastic, but after everything was cleaned up a bit of moisture had gotten into what little drywall was there, and some black spots started to develop. Luckily this was caught before anything was finalized, and the appropriate measures were taken. For my clients, this was completely worth the few hundred dollars spent on the inspection. The truth is, a few hundred dollars now, could save you big headaches, time, and big money down the road.
Deficiency List For the Builder
Another reason to do a home inspection on a new construction home that most people don’t know to be thinking about is to get a comprehensive deficiency list from a licensed third party company to provide to your builder. This alone is worth the cost. When purchasing a new construction home you will likely get the chance to walk through the property once it's finished with the builder representative. This is called "the walkthrough." Typically, this will happen before possession, and once again on possession day. Some builders even do it at a couple different points after possession date (for example, just before a warranty on an item is up). I've been present for many of these walkthroughs. Some are very thorough, especially when the buyer has some experience with home construction or maintenance, but sometimes they happen very quickly, and this can be especially nerve-wracking when the buyer doesn't really know what to look for. If the buyer is inexperienced and the walkthrough happens fast, then you are relying on the builder representative to point everything out, and sometimes items can fall through the cracks, or could get missed all together. Not to be found until much later when it's inconvenient to remedy, or sometimes not found at all until its too late. With an inspection report in hand, you have itemized list of deficiencies that were found by the home inspector to provide to your builder to ensure the builder is aware of them and can fix them for you in a timely matter, or, more preferably, beforeyou move in.
Let's say to not do the home inspection. You do the walk through with the builder, and move in. At this point in the game, if you find issues during or even after the move-in, it becomes very difficult to get the builder back into the home in a timely matter to fix any issues. The truth is, once a home is built, they move their people on to the next house or project. They can be very busy. It's always best to get all, or as many issues/deficiencies remedied right up front, before the purchase is finalized, or at very least, before you move in!
Is it worth the Cost?
Cost seems to come up as one of the main reasons not to do an inspection. But as I said above, a few hundred dollars spent now, could save you thousands later. It's that simple. You are purchasing the biggest asset most people ever buy, and the up-front cost is well worth the investment in the long run. If nothing is found, then you can rest easy knowing you took the appropriate steps to ensure your home is in good shape.
But it has Warranty!
So many times I've heard: "but its all covered under warranty" or "its no problem, warranty will take care of it." But have you ever actually dealt with a warranty company? Or tried to get something else fixed with warranty work? Maybe your car? Well, if you have, then you can probably vouch for the fact that nothing comes easily, or quickly when dealing with a warranty company. There is no question, if you still have warranty on an item that needs to be repaired or replaced then yes, eventually it will get fixed. But the process can be mentally draining, and deeply frustrating to say the least. Not to mention you've likely moved in long ago. Depending on the work being done, it can be quite disruptive to your life. If you are all moved in, but suddenly there is warranty work that, heaven forbid, needs to be done in your kitchen it can be hugely inconvenient. The point here is, a home inspector can find many items that you or I likely wouldn't during a visual walkthrough, and finding any issues early in the purchase process can ensure they are remedied while its still convenient for both you and the builder.
Friends and family say save the money!
Family, friends, and work colleagues can be an amazing resource for support in stressful times, as well as for information when you might be less experienced than they are at something. I don't think I've ever had a client who didn't rely on someone from his or her sphere for guidance, or support of some kind during the home-buying process. That's what family and friends are for! You just need to make sure that you are taking the information you receive from them with an open mind, and weighing all your options as well as outcomes. It's important to truly listen to advice from people you know and trust, but when it comes time to take action it is also important to make sure you are trusting your gut and the professionals you have enlisted to help guide you through the process. In my opinion, if someone recommends you skip the home inspection, that’s fine, but I might get a second and third opinion before deciding. As mentioned above, the cost is minor when you compare to the possible cost of skipping it.
At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for your specific situation. With the information I've given you here, you should be able to come to an educated conclusion about what is right for you if you’ve been on the fence about it. At very least, I hope I can get you pointed in the right direction. If you have any further questions, or want to discuss this topic in more detail, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you!