What To Look For In A New Construction Inspection

    Breaking ground on a new home is more than exciting. It’s a chance for a homebuyer to make every cabinet, closet, and paint color speak to their every vision. It’s also something that might make a home buyer feel out of control and in over their head if they’re not aware of the homebuilding timeline or building stages. Compound the feelings of unmanageability with the emotional baggage of making what is likely to be the largest financial investment of a lifetime and the seeming finality of many of the decisions, the home building process should never be entered into without expert advice.

    The New Construction Process

    That’s where Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executives can help. New construction comprises a large portion of the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand real estate market and the market segment is up over 22% this year. Every Sales Executive has experience in the new construction process and can help their clients demystify and easily understand new home-building. From shopping for a lot to move-in day, The Trembley Group Real Estate experts lead their clients through every major step of building a new home.

    Newly built or pre-construction homes are the house of choice for many homebuyers. Trulia recently asked Americans whether they would prefer to buy a newly built home or a previously-lived-in home. A whopping 41 percent said they wanted pristine.

    Most people cite modern features and the ability to customize the home during the construction process as the top reasons for lusting after a new build. There’s also the use of energy-efficient materials and systems to up the appeal. However, buyers, caught up in the excitement of a brand new, never-lived-in home can overlook some key details that affect their bottom lines.

    Depending on square footage, time of year and weather conditions, the availability of workers and supplies, and more, construction of a new home can take anywhere from three months to over a year. Homebuyers need to be prepared to make important decisions along the way and may experience setbacks. The truth is, whether building a simple starter home or the ultimate oceanfront mansion, most homeowners find the home construction process a bit overwhelming. A Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executives have the experience to guide their clients through every step of the home building process.

    The Framing Walkthrough

    One of a new homeowner’s most important responsibilities begins long before move-in day – the framing inspection or the framing walkthrough. By this time the new homeowner has spent countless hours poring over house plans, visiting various design centers, and making what seems like countless choices, wondering if each one was correct.  Now, the builder wants the homeowner to take a huge leap of faith and look through the new home in its half-finished state and confirm to the builder that he’s doing it right and all is in order.

    Most builders recommend three of walkthroughs. The first is after the home has been surveyed and staked. Once a foundation is set and a house is built, you can’t move it.

    There’s no better time to be sure it’s situated properly.

    After framing is complete and mechanical installation is underway, there’s no better time to address any problems within the walls, the floor system and the roof system like issues with electrical wiring or ventilation ductwork.

    During the final walk-through, the builder and the homeowner review the punch list. That’s a topic for another blog.

    When a Trembley Group Sales Executive represents a new-construction homebuyer, the Realtor will accompany their client to the home framing inspection. The Trembley Group Real Estate routinely deal with a variety of experienced home builders who appreciate a ‘third set of eyes’ and understand they reduce risk for everyone. A little due diligence on the front end gives peace of mind on the back end, paving the way to many years of pleasure and comfort in a family’s “home sweet brand new home!”

    A framing walkthrough is an introduction to a new home that takes place before the drywall is complete and prior to or just after insulation is installed. It is an important and exciting step for all new homeowners as this is an opportunity to learn about the building process and review the progress that’s been made during the past month or two to their new home.

    Understand that the framing walkthrough is NOT an official inspection. That is conducted by the city or county building inspector. They make sure among other things, that plumbing is properly vented, areas are not “overspanned” and that the nailing schedule was adhered to. It’s their responsibility to look after the technical details.

    A framing walkthrough is an opportunity to see through the skeleton of a home in advance.  Most importantly, it is an opportunity to verify fundamentals and ask questions if concerns arise. Does a wall exist where one was supposed to have been deleted? Is there no opening for a door where one was supposed to have been added? This is the perfect opportunity to have the situation easily remedied without a large cost or creating a big mess. The framing walkthrough is an opportunity to verify that the homebuyer is getting exactly what they expect.

    What’s Needed for a Framing Walkthrough

    1. Clipboard and pencil(s) more than one is good… points can break and it’s important to make lots of notes.
    2. Base floor plans.
    3. Structural upgrade information – what changes are being made.
    4. Flashlight: to look into dark spaces and even to help focus in brighter spaces.
    5. Tape measure: always handy.
    6. Level (torpedo level is fine).
    7. Binoculars for inspecting the roof and vaulted ceiling.
    8. Digital Camera: The camera will let you record the location of wiring, plumbing, and framework for future work you might do in your home, and will let you visually record any deficiencies. In many cases, a picture really IS worth a thousand words… a picture could save you a thousand headaches. (You could use a film camera too, but a digital will be much cheaper to use… borrow one if you have to.)
    9. An extra body. Some people suggest that you bring along a relative, a friend, or even a home inspector, to walk the house on their own while you do your ‘guided tour’. The Trembley Group Sales Executive is the perfect set of extra eyes. Every Sales Executive is experienced with new construction and knows what to look for. An extra set of objective eyes can point out things that even you and your inspection list might miss.

    What to Do – What to Look For

    First, take pictures of electrical wiring, plumbing, and air ducts. On a recent framing walkthrough with a client, the builder was asked to move two recessed lights and an electrical box for a ceiling fan. He agreed. The client took pictures showing the current location of the lights and electrical box and the pictures were documentation of the conversation.

    Be sure the digital camera has fresh batteries and take as many pictures as will fit on the memory card. Save the photos to a CD/DVD or a USB flash drive and put in a safe place. Ten years from now when installing a set of built-in shelves or a wall TV mount it may be important to know what wiring or plumbing is behind the drywall. There’s not a better reference guide.

    Check placement for electrical boxes in each room. It’s likely the builder and homebuyer met for a design meeting before construction began. The framing walkthrough is when the homebuyer determines that the location of electrical outlets, ceiling fan wiring, and cable lines for the home are correct. The homebuyer may have ordered extra outlets and now is the time to make sure the changes were made before the framing, wiring, and HVAC ductwork is covered by walls and ceilings.

    Have fun. Bounce on the floor. There should be a register in every room. Ductwork, if it’s installed, should not be banged up/dented, the joints should be taped and sealed, and there should be no sharp turns or kinks. Are the lights roughed into the correct location? Are any framing members missing or unsupported?

    Your washing machine should have a washing pan.  If the pan is not in place, make sure it’s on the Builder’s checklist. The pan catches overflows if the washing machine leaks.

    If installed, are the doors, windows and garage doors the style & design you’ve chosen?  During the pre-drywall walk through with clients last week, we discovered that the Builder installed the wrong patio doors. He agreed to make the correction and we took pictures to document the situation.  Make sure everything is in place! If you have special agreements, like speakers or surround sound, make sure the wiring is in place, and again, where it should be.

    Use The Trembley Group Framing Walkthrough Checklist

    The Trembley Group Real Estate has shared a Framing Walkthrough Checklist to make the framing inspection a little easier. The checklist takes each room of the home and lists the items that should be noted.

    Before the inspection, note room dimensions and check them if necessary. Be forewarned, a new home under construction sometimes seems enormous and sometimes seems minuscule. When the footings are poured and the foundation is being built, the house will look small. Then the first floor is framed and decked. That shoebox suddenly looks like an enormous dance floor. Then the walls are framed. Overnight the dream home has become so small that it will be impossible to stand in front of the kitchen sink and wash dishes. Then the roof is framed and decked and from the outside, the house looks huge. And so it goes. With drywall, with paint, with doors and windows, with light fixtures, the house seems to get larger and smaller.

    Perspectives get skewed at different stages so The Trembley Group Real Estate recommends a Sunday afternoon project guaranteed to make a panicking new home buyer feel better: Go to the new home and lay out furniture on the floor using butcher paper, newspapers, or an outline with painters tape. That’s guaranteed to reduce anxiety and give a better perspective.

    Enjoy the Process

    New homebuyers should take notes as they walk through and talk with The Trembley Group Real Estate Sales Executive and the builder. If problems are discovered, notify the builder. This is the new homebuyer’s new home, maybe their dream home, and they want it to be perfect. So does the builder and Sales Executive.

    It is exciting, and there is so much to see. Make sure to take time and think out every part of every room as if living in it.

    And feel free to come by more often — up to every day. The earlier you can bring up potential issues, the better your chances of a quick and simple resolution.

    Mistakes are certainly made, and there is nothing wrong with bringing them up. Most problems can be handled easily through open communication. The biggest thing is how you approach the conversation. No one wants to hear it start with, “My brother-in-law is in construction, and he says…”

    Keep in mind that something might look like a problem, but most likely it’s just incomplete construction.

    Need help? Call The Trembley Group at 843.945.1880 ext. 1 and we’ll help you look for the perfect listing or buyers agent!

    At The Trembley Group, we pride ourselves on being the experts at more than just selling real estate. We are local residents, some of us have been here for a lifetime. The rest of us will be here until the end of time. We love living, working, and playing in the diverse backyard of Coastal Carolina, and look forward to helping you live and love your dreams soon too. Please reach out to us by phone or email for personalized service and one-on-one advice. 

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