How Important Are New Construction Home Inspections?

Unless you are a building expert and familiar with building regulations, there is every chance you could miss important issues. Therefore, a qualified building inspector must undertake new home inspections.

Under current Queensland law, property sellers are NOT required to disclose defects that are ‘likely’ to be discovered by a buyer exercising reasonable care when inspecting the property. This might come as an unpleasant shock for buyers of new homes, who assume that their property is defect free.

Construction flaws are just as common in new housing as in older homes. Due to rising material and labour costs, contract deadlines, construction shortcuts, and overall sloppy quality, newer buildings are not necessarily the maintenance-free bargains naive first home buyers imagine.

how important are new construction home inspections (1)Research has indicated that there are problems in around 22 per cent of all building projects. Industry-wide, these problems result in millions of dollars worth of costs when dealing with contractural and construction issues, rectifying defective work or resolving disputes. Problems generally arise from issues relating to the quality of building work, concerns about the contract, or the scope of building work. We provide detailed building inspection reports that include photos of any defects.

Regulated Building Standards - New Construction Inspections

The regulated standards for building a new home in Western Australia are, for the most part, covered within the National Construction Code (Building Code of Australia), which all builders are required to comply with. There is a hierarchy for building standards, starting with the Act of Parliament, regulations under the Act, the National Construction Code, the Australian Standards, and additional documentation referenced by the BCA.

During new construction inspections, the Guide to Standards and Tolerances 2018 is commonly referenced for quality issues that fall outside of the Australian Standards requirements. However, it is important to note that this is only a guide and not a regulated standard. Most builders, however, recognise this advisory document and rectify the defective quality itemised in each report to a suitable standard.

Where there is any disagreement over defective work, the BCA or building contract takes precedence. Our building inspection reports differ from our competitors in that each itemised defect is referred back to the applicable Building code or Australian Standard requirement. In addition, the specific clause number (e.g., AS 1684 clause 7.2.4) is listed along with its specification provision. Each building element is assessed to note any apparent deviations and defects that exceed the allowable minimum or maximum tolerances. Given the Western Australian new build housing industry is largely self-regulated, the builders will generally rectify these issues without question once they receive the new construction inspection report. Defects categorised as Sub-standard quality in each report includes all works undertaken by contractors or sub-contractors employed by the builder.

Blemishes & Variations In New Homes

Defective finishes such as paintwork and render are another common complaint. When viewing blemishes and variations, they must be viewed or visible from a normal viewing position during new construction inspections.

A normal viewing position is defined as a distance of 1.5 m or greater and 600 mm for fixtures and appliances. The surface inspected must have diffused light that is not parallel or glancing. This is classified as non-critical light. It is highly advised that after the final handover of the build, the owner performs regular maintenance to ensure the structure continues to perform as intended. By adopting simple landscaping techniques, owners can also reduce the risk of damage and cracking to the structure of the building.

Typically, maintenance plans include the following items to be considered: blocked gutters, faulty sprinkler systems, overflows from air-conditioners, the proximity of trees to house, resealing of shower recesses, downpipes unconnected to stormwater and paving sloping towards a building. A video regarding New Construction Building Inspections can be found here.

Benefits Of Staged Inspections

The staged inspections are designed to coincide with a client’s milestone payments. This gives the client confidence that each stage has been built correctly and to the appropriate building standards. We can conduct inspections at any stage of the build; however, we typically recommend they are conducted at:

  • Slab
  • Plate height (brickwork)
  • Roof frame
  • Practical completion (PCI)

how important are new construction home inspections (2)The main benefit of these staged inspections is that problems are easily rectified before the next construction stage commencing. Once the build reaches completion, it can be difficult to rectify structural items. In addition, many clients have property leases that are expiring and require them to move into their new house ASAP. It can be a very stressful time. Master Building Inspectors provides clients with support, guidance & independent advice during the home building process. Inspections are conducted at the main milestone stages to provide peace of mind with an experienced inspector assessing the build.

Clients are instilled with confidence that the build meets National Construction Code, Australian Standards and Guide to Standards & Tolerances requirements. Build times vary depending upon the complexity and can take anywhere from 7 months to several years to complete.

About Your Master Building Inspector

Unfortunately, the building inspection industry in Perth is unregulated. Therefore, it is paramount that the building inspector assessing your build is suitably experienced and qualified. Many companies in Perth state that their inspectors are registered. Sadly, this is a false statement, as there is currently no such qualification.

We recommend checking your inspector’s credentials, as many so call “registered building inspectors” have no building experience or qualifications and come from accounting & management backgrounds.

Our Inspectors: 

  • All inspectors are qualified, registered builders, holding registration with the WA Building Commission.
  • Fully insured. Every building inspector holds Public liability & Professional Indemnity insurances underwritten by Lloyds of London.
  • All inspectors come from trade backgrounds. They have been involved with constructing residential & commercial builds for years!
  • All of our inspectors have undertaken extensive training in the inspection and reporting process.

FAQs About How Important Are New Construction Home Inspections

The importance of a building inspection when you build a house is often something that many people overlook. However, it is vital, for many reasons, that you invest in an independent building inspection during multiple stages of your build as well as before the keys are handed over.

The overall reason you should engage a building inspector is to make sure your house is safe for your family. That means it meets the Australian Building Code and best practices. Of course, there is nothing more important than the well-being and safety of your family. But many additional reasons could save you money and the stress associated with defects to your new home.

We must stress that our member builders all have certification and experience building homes, but robots aren’t building your home (yet), so there is always the chance of human error. Also, when you build a house, it is not a cheap process. It will be one of the biggest financial commitments you make. Therefore, it is well worth engaging a quality and independent inspector to give you the peace of mind that everything is to the highest standard.

Naturally, the main reason to get a building inspection is to pick up on any defects to the home that you or the builder might have missed. Building inspectors are thorough and will look at things you might not have even considered. They should do this at all five stages of the build.

  • Building inspectors will track whether your builder is sticking to the building codes. This will guarantee that builders have built your home in compliance with all the builder codes and regulations.
  • Although many builders have their building inspectors, hiring your independent inspector means that you have someone solely working on your behalf. They become your eyes and ears throughout the process, providing you comfort in the integrity of your new home build.
  • Cohesion is important when building a home. With so many different components in a new home, from plasters to kitchens, flooring, and painters, having someone who can survey the work with a compressive understanding of the entire process is a huge benefit. Contractors will come and go throughout the building process, but having an independent inspector means someone is looking at the whole project for you holistically and continuously.
  • Building inspectors are generally retired builders who are off the tools with many years of experience behind them. This is a huge benefit for you! Having worked in the building industry for years, they know what to look for and where some of the potential shortcuts may creep in, sometimes not even intentionally.
  • If you hire a Jim’s Building Inspector, you have the bonus of receiving a report and photos after they have surveyed the building site at each stage of the process. You will get this before you are required to pay each progress payment, giving the builder incentive to fix any issues before you pay. Not only that, but Jim’s Building Inspection also guarantee their work, so if they overlook something they should have picked up, they will come back and fix it themselves at their cost.
  • Although a building inspection is an additional cost, it could save you money down the track if they pick something up that you might have missed. The builder will have to fix it before they can finish the house, so you won’t have to deal with it later.

Here are some of the most common things that fail a home inspection.

  • Problem #1: Rundown roofing.
  • Problem #2: Drainage issues.
  • Problem #3: Faulty foundation.
  • Problem #4: Plumbing problems.
  • Problem #5: Pest infestations.
  • Problem #6: Hidden mould.
  • Problem #7: Failing heating systems.
  • Problem#8: Electrical wiring.

The home inspector has a responsibility to perform a non-invasive, visual examination. This means the home inspector can only examine the readily accessible areas of the home. A home inspector cannot perform destructive measures such as removing drywall, siding, trim, panelling, floor coverings, etc.

Determine What A Home Is Worth

Often a client may ask a home inspector, “do you think this house is worth it?” Unfortunately, home inspectors cannot determine what the house’s market value is or should be. Establishing a house’s market value or appraised value is reserved for a real estate appraiser. We will state appraisers look at market conditions and establish what a home is worth based on many factors, including current market conditions.

Before becoming a home inspector, I attended real estate agent school. One of the things that we were taught there is that real estate is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. So as a home inspector, when I’m asked this question, my response is almost always the same;” I don’t know the details of your financial situation. However, if you’re comfortable with the findings we’ve discussed today, then I see no reason for you not to purchase a home.” 

Determine Property Boundary Lines Or Encroachments 

Property boundary lines are used to establish the size of A parcel of real estate. Property boundary lines are sent by land surveyors and outlined on the property plat. Home inspectors are not allowed to determine property boundary lines as this is outside the scope of the standard home inspection. However, if a home inspector is also a trained land surveyor, the home inspector can provide this service as an ancillary service separate from the standard home inspection.

Repair A Home They’ve Inspected. 

Home inspectors are licensed in most US states. However, there are some states in which they are not licensed. Even in states where no licensing exists, home inspectors can and should be certified. There are two major certification organisations for home inspectors. They are the International Association of certified home inspectors (InterNACHI or NACHI for short) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Home inspectors that are certified but either or both of these organisations are bound by a code of ethics which does not allow for a home inspector to repair any home that has been inspected, for a fee, for one year. 

Report On Cosmetic And Matters Of Taste

Home inspectors are not allowed to report on aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste or a cosmetic defect. Instead, home inspectors are looking for items deemed a material defect. According to NACHI Standards of Practice, a material defect is defined as a specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property or that poses an unreasonable risk to people. For example, the age of a system or component in a residential property in and of itself has not been deemed a material defect.

The Insurability Of A Home

Home inspectors are not allowed to determine the insurability of a home. A home inspector can collect information for an insurance company via an inspection report, such as a four-point inspection; however, the decision of insurability rests with the underwriter at an insurance company, not the home inspector.

The Life Expectancy Of The Property Or Components 

Home inspectors cannot determine future conditions or the remaining life expectancy of a property or its components. A home inspector can determine the current estimated age and current condition of a property or components. However, no one can predict when a property or a component will need to be repaired or updated. Therefore, a home inspector may advise you that a system or component is nearing the end of its useful life. Still, as stated earlier, a property or component that is old in and of itself is not a material defect.

Determine The Presence Of Hazardous Materials 

A home inspector is not allowed To determine the presence of potentially hazardous materials such as lead-based paint, asbestos, radon, or mould without proper laboratory testing to justify their findings. In addition, these ancillary services are performed for a fee over and above the standard home inspection. As a result, not all home inspectors offer the services.

Determine The Presence Of Air Quality

Hey, a Home inspector is not allowed to determine the indoor air quality without proper laboratory testing to justify their findings. Indoor air quality testing is an ancillary service performed for a fee over and above the standard home inspection. Not all home inspectors offer the service.

Determine The Presence Of Electromagnetic Fields

Home inspectors are not allowed to determine the presence of electromagnetic fields within a home. Electromagnetic fields are a combination of invisible electric and magnetic fields generated by natural phenomena (such as the earth’s magnetic field) and through human activities such as the use of electricity. There you have it. We hope this article helps you better understand home inspections and what a home inspector is not allowed to do.

Things Home Inspectors Are Not Allowed To Do

Perform Destructive Testing

Most of the time, a home inspector inspects a home for a client looking to purchase the home or investment property. The sales offer is generally made contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. Because the seller wants to sell the home, they will often agree to the terms and ratify the sales contract. The home inspector has a responsibility to perform a non-invasive, visual examination. This means the home inspector can only examine the readily accessible areas of the home. A home inspector cannot perform destructive measures such as removing drywall, siding, trim, panelling, floor coverings, etc. 

Suppose a home inspector finds evidence of damage. In that case, they can examine it non-destructive and note the damage in an inspection report with a recommendation for the area to be examined by a licensed contractor. A home inspector needs to respect the sellers and their property by treating it with the utmost respect and professionalism. This includes leaving the property in the exact condition it was found.

Issue A Pass Or Fail Grade

A home inspection isn’t a test. There is no pass or fail grade given on a home. A home inspector cannot make a buy or not buy determination for a client. A home inspector examines the home and notes in their inspection report any items that are damaged or not functioning as intended in their professional opinion. Licensed contractors should examine systems and components that are not functioning as intended to determine if corrective measures are needed. Only the client can determine whether the property is an investment they are willing to make or not. 

Condemn A Property

Home inspectors are not allowed to determine if a property is livable or not. Home inspectors lack the legal authority to condemn a home. Only local building code enforcement officers have the legal authority to condemn a home, and even that is limited to within their jurisdiction.

Enforce Local Building Codes

Home inspectors are not building code inspectors. While home inspectors know current building codes and can cite a particular code as a reference in an inspection report, they do not have the legal authority to enforce them. This authority rests with building code enforcement officers employed in their local jurisdictions. 

However, building code enforcement officers do not inspect residential homes unless it is new construction, there is an ongoing renovation project or a complaint regarding the living conditions. New home construction is not without its problems, though. In our article New Construction Home Inspections – Common Problems & Building Defects we discuss some of the most common issues discovered in new home construction, including limitations to building code enforcement inspections. 

Issue A Certificate Of Occupancy 

To establish electrical power to a residence, the power company will need a certificate of occupancy authorising them to install the electrical meter and establish power to the house. This happens with new construction and existing homes where the service meter has been removed due to a vacancy. A certificate of occupancy can only be provided through an electrical inspection from the local building code enforcement office. Home inspectors cannot provide this service because they lack the legal authority to do so from the local building code enforcement office.

Conclusion:

Understanding what a home inspector can and cannot do goes a long way toward managing expectations when performing a home inspection. A home inspection is defined as a non-invasive, visual examination of a residential property that is designed to identify material defects within a home’s structure, systems, and components. So you may be wondering, what are home inspectors not allowed to do in a home inspection? A home inspector shouldn’t perform any professional service they are not specifically licensed or certified to perform in their state. Many home inspectors have backgrounds in other construction trades such as general contracting or engineering. These services would not be performed as part of a professional home inspection.

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