Four Reasons to Inspect

No one has a new car professionally inspected before they buy it (though they likely take it for a test drive — or three).

Why pay several hundred dollars to inspect a brand-new home?

I can think of four reasons:

One.  To get a professional’s assessment of construction quality.

A good Realtor will have an instant “vibe” about how well-built a home is (or isn’t).

Nice flow and appearance, and lots of name-brand components – Wolf kitchen appliances, Anderson windows, Kohler bathroom fixtures, 30-year Timberline roof shingles, to name a few — are a very good start.

But, it takes an expert eye to tell what construction techniques the builder used, and assess overall construction quality.

Two.  A good inspector will anticipate future problems.

A brand-new house should be blemish-free.

In a few years, though, it may not be.

A good inspector will note such things as roof valleys (issue:  ice dams), grading (foundation; water in basement); and trusses (level floors) to assess the risk of future problems — and recommend steps to prevent them.

They’ll also set realistic expectations for the new owner.

For example, it’s common for (some) cracks to appear in ceilings and wall the first two years or so as the home settles.

Which leads to reason #3 . . . .

Three.  Education.

If you think it takes a little time to master a “smart phone,” try learning a “smart home.”   

With whole-house electronic systems, Internet-controlled HVAC, sophisticated home security, etc., it literally takes a tutorial to learn how to run all the features built into new, upper bracket construction today.

While the builder should be available to explain all of the foregoing to the new owner, a good home inspector will go well beyond, and also give the owners pointers on suggested maintenance.

Four.  Testing for radon.

One of the big trends in new construction is basements that don’t feel like basements.  See, “Fall 2012 Parade of Homes Highlights.

With features like high ceilings, lots of egress windows, and recessed lighting — not to mention ever more elaborate built-in entertainment systems — families are spending more of their free time in this part of the house.

So, making sure that the environment is safe — and specifically, testing for elevated radon levels — is smart.  See, “Testing for Radon.

Yeah, yeah,” I can hear skeptics say, “all those things are nice to know, but aren’t new homes covered by extensive warranties?”

The short answer:  “yes, but if substantial problem arise after the sale closes, those warranties are only as strong as the builder standing behind them.”

In other words:  it’s smart to learn as much as possible about the builder — and the new home — beforehand.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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