Even New Homes Are Not Perfect

When you buy a newly build home, you expect it to be perfect. But according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, this is not always the case. So as a new home buyer, it’s best to realize that “there is no such thing as a perfect home.”

Unfortunately, some home builders, these days, are cutting costs during the construction process in order to keep their homes affordable and profitable. One practice is to hire day laborers from the groups of unemployed workers that gather around local convenience stores. More often than not, these workers are not skilled plumbers, electricians, or carpenters.

As a result, these individuals’ workmanship can be very shoddy. For example, exhaust fans may vent to nowhere; doors or windows don’t close properly; the hot and cold water spigots are switched; electrical outlets don’t work; insulation hasn’t been stapled to the studs within wall cavities; and sewer lines aren’t connected properly.

Other factors contributing to poor workmanship include:

  • Language barriers between day laborers and construction supervisors.
  • Shorter construction schedules, such as homes built in 60 days compared to 120–200 days a little over a decade ago.
  • Production supervisors overseeing multiple homes at one time.
  • The substitution of less-expensive materials compared to those in the past.

Therefore, if you’re looking to build and/or buy a newly built home, here are some steps you can take to help make sure your dream home has as few flaws as possible:

  • Look for a reputable builder by asking family, friends and co-workers for recommendations.
  • Have your new home inspected twice – once before the drywall is installed and again before the final walkthrough. If your builder says they don’t do walkthroughs, you or your home inspection engineer should tour the home, making a list of any issues to give to the builder. Or, better yet, take photographs of issues to show the builder what needs to be fixed. These repairs should be made before you go to closing and move in. Once you move in, any defects you may find may be your responsibility to fix.
  • Don’t let a builder tell you he won’t fix something if it’s not a code violation. The code is just the minimum requirements needed.
  • Don’t take the builder’s word that repairs have been made. Re-inspect the home yourself or have it inspected by a home inspection engineer.
  • Hire a real estate attorney if any serious issues, such as structural problems or mold, are not corrected.