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HOME BUYER: New Construction and Rehabbed Residences


"We contracted Pete to inspect a newly constructed home in Kane County. In addition to Pete being thorough in his inspection, for us, one of the most valuable aspects of the inspection was that he took the time to educate us regarding items we should be aware of as homeowners."

Angie's List Customer

Final Inspection Recommendations for New Construction and Rehabbed Residences

New construction and rehab renovations have unique conditions that affect the inspection process. Unlike older residences, the inspection emphasis for new construction is on proper installation of components and project completion. Evaluating the proper installation and function of components and systems is what your home inspector is trained to do. Project completion is just as critical but must be addressed before your inspection is scheduled.

In order for a meaningful final inspection to occur, the new residence must be completely finished, clean and in "move-in" condition. Conditions that don't meet this simple definition are not only unacceptable but are likely to result in an incomplete or postponed inspection. Both scenarios may involve additional inspection fees and /or delays. In addition, we recommend that the final inspection occur several days prior to "closing" so that any items needing correction can be completed and rechecked by the new home owner or their inspector before the purchase is final.

It is important that your real estate agent, the "listing" real estate agent and the builder are all aware that you expect the inspection conditions to be completely finished, clean and in "move-in" condition. It is these site conditions that dictate when the final inspection can occur [not an arbitrary calendar date] so the cooperation of the builder is critical.

What you, the new home buyer, should ask about in the days leading up to your final inspection and closing:

  1. Has the builder completed everything that he intends to do? Are any critical items backordered or installations delayed?
  2. Are all the utilities [water, electricity, gas] "on" and the respective meters installed?
  3. Has the local municipality done their final inspection and issued an "occupancy permit"?
  4. Have all the appliances been installed, packing materials removed, appliances cleaned inside and out and then tested? [This is especially important for ventless fireplaces.]
  5. Has the cleaning crew completed their work, including removal of stickers and protective film from glass and appliances?
  6. In condominiums, are the building entries secure 24-7 and are emergency lighting, door bells, intercoms, remote lock releases and mail boxes functional? [Finished surfaces in common areas are often the last to be completed and may be unfinished at the time of your closing but safety and security are a must before the building is occupied.]

What may happen if the final inspection is done before your new residence is completely finished, clean and in "move-in" condition?

  • Tradesmen continue in and out of the residence moving appliances and carrying tools or equipment. Utilities will be turned on and off, and new utility connections will be made. These installations and any inadvertent damage that may occur will not be noted as part of your final inspection.
  • Although appearance issues are not the primary concern of any home inspection, it should be noted that chips, dents and scratches on fixtures, appliances and surfaces with "natural" finishes are easily missed if construction dust and debris remain during the inspection. Establishing responsibility for these flaws after the final inspection can be difficult. [Minor "bumps", "nicks" and "dings" on site painted surfaces are easily touched up.]
  • Misaligned doors and hardware can damage adjacent surfaces once put into daily use. Doors may have to be refit following carpet installation.
  • Many of the most important components and systems [utility appliances, fixtures, kitchen and laundry appliances, gas pipes, water pipes, waste water pipes and electrical installations] cannot be checked if the utilities are not "on" during the final inspection.
  • Your final payment at closing can reduce the leverage that a new home buyer has for facilitating any necessary corrections or incomplete installations.

We strive to provide the best possible service to our clients and the only way for that to happen is when site conditions permit a complete and meaningful final inspection to occur.

Some inspection companies may be less stringent about site conditions at the time of the final inspection than we are, so if circumstances prevent the home from being completely finished, clean and in "move-in" condition we prefer that you retain the services of another inspection company.