New Home Inspection (Construction | Phase)
A new home inspection, also known as a construction or phase inspection, is an invaluable service for anyone who is looking to have a reliable and nonbiased professional opinion regarding the quality and installation practices being utilized in their new home during the building process. The new home construction process can be an unexpectedly overwhelming process for anyone. Having a professional home inspector on call to help guide you through the home building process will absolutely bring value to your future purchase.
Phase Inspection Process
There are three opportunities available during the building cycle that are recommended to have your third-party inspector evaluate and report on the workmanship and construction of your new home. The standard 3 phase inspection process is utilized to ensure that major construction defects within your home are not covered up.
There is a market for these types of inspections for a reason. Additionally, most high-quality home builders fully welcome a third-party inspection. The new construction phase inspection is conducted at three separate times;
- The first inspection should be conducted prior to your concrete being poured (Pre-pour Inspection)
- The second inspection takes place prior to the interior walls and insulation being installed (Framing Inspection)
- The final inspection takes place after the home is complete, usually around the time of your initial “Blue tape” walk-through (Final Inspection).
Pre-pour Foundation Inspection
There is ample value in having your home’s foundation inspected prior to the pour day. If you are considering having your foundation inspected there are a few things you should plan for. There are numerous workmanship defects that are present on nearly every foundation that can impact the visible appearance as well as the bearing capacity of the foundation. Once the concrete is poured, the opportunity to have your foundation inspected is gone.
When to Schedule the Foundation Inspection
It takes time to coordinate with concrete companies for the required concrete for your foundation. That means, your builder knows a few days in advance when they plan on pouring. The best time for the pre-pour inspection is typically two days prior to the actual pour day. This will help ensure that the foundation is ready to inspect, as well as give the builder sufficient enough time to make any and all needed corrections, or postpone the pour day. Additionally, this will allow you some time to re-inspect the repairs prior to pouring day.
Another way to get an idea of the intended pour day is to ask the builder when their in-house inspector is scheduled to review the foundation. If we know when the builder’s inspector will arrive, we can usually schedule the inspection around that date, as the forms and reinforcements are typically complete at that time.
Upon completion of the on-site inspection, CeS Inspections LLC will return to the office and begin constructing your digital report. The report will be comprised of digital photographs and locations of each defect, as well as the relevant references for issues discovered during the inspection. This helps ensure that once your builder has the report, the required corrections are implemented.
3 Common Foundation Installation Problems
There is always a chance that your home’s foundation will have a major issue. Though not the norm, there have been occasions where a home’s foundation was poured using the wrong design plans. Below is a list of the most commonly found problems that are present on most of our pre-pour foundation inspections.
1. This photo shows the installation of a Post-tensioned cable that is over-spanned and under-supported. The plans for this foundation called for #3 rebar at 48 inches on center. This tendon was characteristic of every tendon installed within the foundation. When tendons are not properly supported, the weight of the concrete, as well as the concrete workers, will drive the tendon into the ground, severely limiting the amount of concrete coverage and potential bearing integrity of the exterior footers.
If your inspector is familiar with reading the foundation plans while on site, documenting and addressing these issues become much more efficient. Because it is not typical for the builder to release a copy of their engineering plans, most of our inspections will focus on our experience and professional opinion.
2. Another common problem is undersized reinforcing bars and rebar that is out of position within the structual grade beams. It is important for the integrity of the foundation that all corners, re-entrant walls, and other areas have the appropriate amount and size of rebar. Another important component is the support and fastening of the rebar within your home’s foundation. The picture to the right shows rebar that was not properly sized. When located at the corners of a post-tensioned foundation, this can increase the probability of corner-pops.
3. Another common issue with the installation of your home’s foundation is standing water and poor grading and drainage. Grading is typically done by builders after the foundation has been poured, and sometimes later. This directs any recent rainfall into the foundation beams. This will significantly reduce the strength of the concrete when it mixes with the water and should be avoided.
The next phase of the inspection process is typically called the framing inspection, or pre-cover inspection. Once your home’s roofing material, exterior cladding, and windows have been installed, your home will be ready for the interior sheetrock and insulation to begin.
Because the sheetrock and insulation cover some of the critical materials, like window flashing, electrical wiring, and your home’s framing components, having your third-party inspector evaluate and report on the quality of work is paramount. Once the sheetrock goes up it is too late. Many defects can lay dormant until well after the home warranty has expired, leaving the home owner responsible for any needed repairs.
When to Schedule the Framing Inspection
The best time to schedule the framing inspection will typically coincide with your builder’s framing walk-through. This is the portion of the building cycle where builders try and ensure that all of the agreed upon design criteria has been properly built into the home and that your questions and concerns have been met.
This also happens to be in-line with the building officials required inspection, and when your builder, if applicable, will have their own inspector review the home.
Once the builder’s inspector has finished their inspection, and the defects that were identified have been corrected, the best window of opportunity for the framing inspection presents itself. When we are the last to inspect the property it ensures that all of the typical defects that tend to congest our report have previously been identified and corrected. This makes it much easier for you to perform your re-inspection, as their will be, in theory, fewer items to keep track of. It also allows the inspection of the recently repaired defects.
3 Common Framing Installation Problems
1. The most common issue found during the framing inspection by every builder is improper notching and boring of the interior load bearing stud walls. After the framers have completed their installation, the electrical and plumbing are installed through the home’s interior walls. During this process, over-zealous cutting of load bearing studs is conducted in order to make way for the utilities. There are requirements that must be met in order to maintain the integrity of load-bearing walls after they have been damaged. This, of course, goes unseen very often.
2. Another common problem is with the installation and flashing of the home’s windows and exterior penetrations. Poor flashing installation will in most cases lead to water damage to the home. Unfortunately, this can take quite some time to finally manifest itself within the home once it has been covered. This is one of the primary reasons for an inspection at this stage.
3. Installation defects in regards to the home’s water-resistive barrier and air barrier are also quite common. The water-resistive barrier and air barrier are installed in order to prevent the infiltration of water and moisture laden air into the home. When not installed properly, which is often the case, an unnecessary amount of unconditioned air can enter the home’s thermal envelope.
The final inspection should be scheduled a few days before your scheduled walk-through with your builder. This will ensure that the building process is near completion so systems can be inspected. Because this final inspection is conducted as part of a real estate transaction, it is regulated by the Texas Real Estate Commission. This inspection incorporates all the major systems in the home and is the most time consuming of the 3 phases. If you are interested in reviewing the components and materials that are covered in a full home inspection you can read more about it here.
We truly appreciate you taking the time to consider CeS Inspections LLC as your Houston home inspector, and we look forward to assisting you with your new home inspection needs.
Things You Can Do When Hiring Your Personal Inspector
New construction phase inspections can be tricky to schedule. If your project manager is off by a few days on his timeline, or last minute paperwork needs to be submitted, your scheduled inspection could be missed. That is why it is important to let your home building representatives know in advance that you wish to hire an independent building inspector to perform phase inspections throughout the building process. Below is a list of actions that you can take to ensure that your construction inspection goes off without any difficulties.
1. Try and let your builder or project manager know well in advance that you will have a third-party inspector conducting independent phase inspections on your behalf. This has the advantage of putting them on notice, which will improve their attention to detail from the start. Also, it will require your project manager to be more accurate with their projected timelines. One of the most common complaints when dealing with your project manager is their inability to deliver an accurate timeline.
2. Your home builder may also have some requirements that may need to be met by your inspector. Try and obtain this well in advance and get it to your inspector to avoid any last minute difficulties. The requirements are usually minimal, and any quality home inspection company should have no issues supplying the needed documentation.
Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns
How many physical visits or appearances do you make during the course of a 3 phase inspection?
Our visits can vary based on your needs, but the quotes we send will are for a single visit per phase (3 visits total). There are times when we document and report on major defects with the home, or when there are a large number of notable defects. In both of those scenarios, it can be difficult to determine if the builder has made any of the agreed upon repairs, in which case our services are requested for a re-inspection. There is a fee for any additional inspections, which is contingent upon our estimated time on-site.
I was talking with my builder and they mentioned that they follow a different code standard than what was referenced in the report. Is the builder required to follow your references, or are they just guidelines?
During the final inspection, do you inspect all of the outlets?
I would never say that I inspect ALL the outlets, as I know for sure if you have outlets in the eaves/soffits and some other locations they won’t be checked…but it is our goal to check all the accessible outlets. As far as wiring, this is a visual only non-invasive inspection, like all home inspections, so we do not typically remove outlets from the walls, however; when an inspector “inspects” an outlet they do so with the use of a circuit analyzer which will help reveal improperly wired outlets.
What is a thermal infrared scan and why do I need one?
We have some information on our website about our Thermal infrared methods, which will help with your general question regarding “hot spots”. In general, yes, we will be looking for anomalies in the thermal envelope, both hot and cold. Our primary concern is water intrusion/leakage and electrical exceptions. Of course, if we detect issues with the thermal envelope, such as missing insulation/air infiltration we will document and report those for you using a thermal image and a visible light image to help with locating the exception.
Do you inspect the sprinkler system, and what is the additional fee if any?
The irrigation system (Sprinklers in the building world refer to water/fire sprinklers within the home) is inspected and the method and scope can be further defined when viewing the sample report on our website. We do not charge extra for home’s that have irrigation systems, but the inspection has some limitations, which you can read about on the TREC website.