November 12, 2017
New Home Warranty Inspections
What To Expect When You're Inspecting
I love doing new home warranty inspections. I believe that they are every bit as important, and possibly more, than an inspection when you are purchasing a home that isn’t brand new. The assumption that new can’t mean broken or wrong is not a good one, and quite often can be an expensive assumption to make.
Before I get further into this I would like to say that I am not attacking builders. I have worked in construction at the labour level all the way up to management in my career and in my experience, builders are not trying to dodge or hustle anyone. To a large degree they are at the mercy of their subcontractors. Even with oversight things can easily get missed. Furthermore, the house at the time of the pre-possession inspection may not have shown signs of an issue yet. And you can’t expect the builder to send a site supervisor out with a thermal camera, moisture meter and all the tools we use to examine each property for 3 or 4 hours. For the most part it is up to the home owner to list what problems arise.
What are the odds that an untrained home buyer who doesn’t work in residential construction will catch everything?
People buy new homes because they want to know they won’t have any problems for a long time. Doing new home warranty inspections allows me to help both the builder and the home owner get what they want. The home owner gets a new home with everything performing as it should, and the builder gets a happy customer.
I don’t want to toot my own horn, on second thought, that’s exactly what I want to do. The average amount in warranty deficiencies we have disclosed this year per house is $8350.00. I won’t bore you with breaking down the numbers, but non-invasive tools like thermography, moisture meters and endoscope photography represent a significant portion of the deficiencies found. Getting everything fixed that needs to be fixed before that first year is over is essential. Without an in-depth look and a clearly detailed report it would be difficult for most homeowners to achieve that. Like I previously stated, any reputable builder wants happy customers. If 6 months after a warranty has expired a leaking skylight destroys drywall, home furnishings and personal belongings this will not a happy customer make. If, on the other hand, a full warranty inspection is conducted, the flashing around a skylight is flagged and the builder mends it you have a happy home buyer. Everybody wins.
A customer recently asked me how I approach a new home warranty inspection differently then a pre-purchase inspection. The answer is that there is no difference. You can make no assumptions in either scenario. You must inspect and relay evidence based findings. You never know what you will find. Here are just a few of the things I have found in new home warranty inspections: broken trusses nailed together with pieces of plywood; holes in roof sheeting as big as a beach ball that had just been shingled over; 9 inch holes cut in 11 ¾ inch wood I-beam joists just 6 inches from the pocket in a foundation; kitchen cupboards nearly falling off the wall from the weight of dishes stored in them; skylights with inadequate flashing; insulation stops completely blocked by insulation; and P-traps effectively turned into S-traps by poor workmanship. I could go on and on. An inspection is an inspection and a full investigation must be made in order to hear the story that the property is telling me.
One of my favourite stories is one told to me by a colleague in Edmonton. He got a call to do a home inspection on a house that was only two years old. It was not a pre-purchase. The clients had purchased the home directly from the builder, Jayman homes, two years prior. The home had been ridiculously cold on the second floor and the gas bill soared well above average for the market. After inspecting the outside, the inspector went straight for the attic. There was no insulation. Not a drop. This had been missed, not only by the builder, but by the city inspector as well. Now this is the part that I love. Within 36 hours of Jayman being made aware of this omission the home owner had insulation installed and a cheque for their entire gas bill for the two years since they bought the home. If that home owner buys a new home in the future who do you think they will call? If the subject of new homes comes up at a dinner party this story will be relayed with enthusiasm. Not only the buyer, but the inspector was turned into a promoter for Jayman. In fact I have relayed the story myself to at least a dozen people since I heard it. It’s a great story. If they had waited three months to get someone over to do the insulation and not paid any restitution the story would be a lot different. It would have created a chain of detractors instead of chain of promoters for Jayman. That is how a new home warranty is a win-win for home owners and builders.
In Japanese the word kiki means both crisis and opportunity. In a perfect world, third party new home warranty inspections would be thrown in with the price of a home. It is a nominal cost and a huge benefit to all involved. It is a kiki for all involved.
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