This page is intended to inform and educate some of you that are either thinking about building a new home or that are in the process of building your dream home. As a Professional Real Estate Inspector, I see the good and bad of the Industry. This industry is just like many others out there today, it exist to make money. There is nothing wrong with that, until the industry starts to short change the consumer in favor of the dollar. Customer care is practiced only until it starts interfering with the bottom line. For the price consumers pay for a new home today, the lack of quality in many of today's home is horrendous.
With the population boom in the Houston and surrounding areas, subdivisions have been busting at the seams with the new home construction. Builders are hard pressed for sub-contractors, subs are short on skilled workers. Un-skilled day laborers are hired to fill the ranks of sub-contracting companies so that builders can get these homes built and closed on!
There are some really good homes built in the area. You can not solely pick your building company on name alone for the simple fact that it is usually the site superintendent and the sub-contractors who build a home and not the office staff back at your builders office! Below are some myths I hear all the time about building companies. It's time to set some things straight!
Myth #1: You can't go wrong with a Nationally named builder!
Fact: News shows like "48 Hours", "60 Minutes" and "Dateline" have segments every year about nationally known builders involved in class action lawsuits over cutting corners (sometimes literally) and other poor building practices. Hiring a well known builder is not a guarantee against anything! You must research the builder in the exact neighborhood you are going to build. Go to the other home owners and ask them how well a job the builder did. If they were smart and hired an independent inspection during construction ask to see the report! Always be on your guard! Do your research! Don't think it can't happen to you!
Myth #2: I'm having a new home built so I won't run into problems with it down the road.
Fact: Just because your buying or building a new home does not mean you won't have problems with it. I hear from people all the time with 2, 3 and 4 year old homes that have had or are having major problems with their new homes. With the scores and scores of unskilled laborers and the work load of the site superintendents, many things can and do go wrong on the work site. We can manufacture many items on an assembly line with unskilled workers putting the nuts and bolts in hole A and slot B and tightening. That process has not worked and never will work with a quality site built home. It takes attention to detail and true craftsmanship to build a home that will last for the ages. Sadly, there are very few craftsmen left! I see homes built back in the '70's and '80s that are better built homes than some of the ones being built today at 3 to 5 times the money!
Myth #3: My home was built in the city limits so it had city inspectors inspecting it as it was built.
Fact: That's one of the biggest myths out there. The city inspectors in Houston and the surrounding areas are snowed under by all the new construction going up. The last I heard, they had to do around 15 to 22 inspections in a day to keep out of hot water back at the city hall. Now with workloads like that, about the maximum amount of time a city inspector can be in a home is 15 to 20 minutes. I've seen more than a few homes get "green tagged" without there ever having been a city inspector in the house. You had better believe the superintendents and sub-contractors know this also!
Myth #4: My builder showed me where they hired a company to inspect the home while it was being built and that I shouldn't go out and hire an independent inspector myself. (I hear this one a lot)
Fact: If a builder builds a superior home day in and day out, they're never afraid of you hiring an independent inspector. I hear it all the time from clients that their builder did everything but cut the phone line to prevent them from calling an inspector on their own! The "builders" inspector is a company they hire to do code inspections (see Myth #3) on their new homes. These inspectors do many of the builders homes every day. They also are there only a short while before they head off to another home. Are you beginning to see why some builders and superintendents don't want independent inspectors looking at their homes? The simple fact is that a builder that builds a good home doesn't fear an independant inspection of their homes and will actually encourage you to hire an inspector. It's like a badge of honor to them if their homes come through an indepedent inspection in fine shape.
Myth #5: My builder said I was being too picky about wanting some items fixed in my home. Am I being too picky?
Fact: I hear this one quite often also. Just how picky does your money allow you to be? While it is true no home is perfect, you wouldn't go out and pay full price for a new car that had dings and scratches in the paint with an engine that knocked and the radiator located where the gas tank should be would you? It's your home. They are supposed to be hiring professional craftsmen to do the work (but we know they aren't don't we). True craftsmen will make very few mistakes while building your home. Un-skilled day laborers will make many obvious mistakes that anyone can find. You can bet that many of the defects and flaws that your seeing don't exist in the building company's owners house or any of the managements homes. So why should they be allowed in yours? Whether your spending $70,000 or $700,000 to have a home built, you deserve the very best workmanship on your home. It's your money, demand quality!
Myth #6: My builder said I didn't need an independent home inspection because I had a 1 year warranty and that if anything was going to go wrong, it would happen inside a year.
Fact: I have never and will never inspect a newly constructed home that I didn't find something wrong where the builder needed to fix or repair multiple items. They always miss something. There are just two many components on a house to make sure they are all okay! Now can you imagine what a pain and inconvenience it would be to have a work crew to come back into your house to fix minor defects and flaws within a year? Now imagine what would happen if you had a major repair to be made! It's as simple as this, most builders know your not going to have an inspection on your new home before the warranty runs out, so, they'll be off the hook unless something major goes wrong, and that is what they bet against! It's a lot easier on you to have major and minor items fixed, repaired or replaced during construction than after you have lived there a year.
Now I could go on and on with example after example, but I hope your finally seeing how this industry works. If the builder has to pull the drywall sub-contractors off of a job down the road to come back to your house, he's losing money. Now the other house is going to get behind and he runs the risk of that house not closing on time. If he can talk you out of fixing all that drywall damage, then he is money ahead. I hope your beginning to realize how this industry operates. You need to insure some amount of quality control in your home and your not likely to get it from someone who stands to lose money by having extra work performed!
I've heard just about every excuse there is for not hiring a Professional Real Estate Inspector. The fact remains that if you will hire an experienced and qualified home inspector before you even pour your foundation, you will go a long way in making sure your dream home doesn't end up a nightmare! Look at it this way, for less than the price of 2 top of the line Moen faucets, you can have a professional to watch out for your interest and make sure things are done right during the construction on your home.
If just a portion of the people that are involved in class action lawsuits would have hired a professional home inspector before they had closed, they probably would have been warned before hand, Enabling them to shop for a better home. How many of these people do you think will hire a home inspector next time? (Sadly, most people after going through something like this refuse to ever think about building again, and who could blame them?)
Remember this also, if you live in a rural area, you don't even have the slim amount of protection that someone inside the city limits does! There are no local government inspectors inspecting your home! In Texas, you do not have to be licensed to be a Home Builder. There is an industry joke that goes something like this "All you have to do in Texas to be a Builder is to have a cowboy hat, a ladder and a pickup truck". You don't know how many times I've seen that joke become a reality!
Some of the more common problems we find with new homes are:Gas appliances not plumbed correctly
Damaged or missing shingles, flashing or ridge ventsRoof decking not cut for ridge vents
Missing H-clips on deckingImproper gas linesInsufficient main electrical feedPoor caulk & seal
Insufficient gradingRafters notched, missing or damagedImproper electrical panel installation
Improper breaker sizing for electrical appliances (thus voiding your warranty on the appliance) Missing weep holes
A/C's not installed properlyWater heaters improperly installedImproper flue clearance
These are only a tiny fraction of problems I routinely find on new homes.
I'm a Professional Real Estate Inspector licensed by the State of Texas, I have been in this industry for many years and have seen many good people taken advantage of by builders. Sometimes intentional sometimes not, but either way they ended up spending more money than they really had to. Hiring a Professional Real Estate Inspector to watch over the construction of your new home puts control of the building process in your hands, not the builders!
Good Luck and thank you for visiting this site and I wish you all the luck on your new home.
Call us today to schedule your home inspection or just to ask us a question.