New Construction Nightmares! – Gallery 1
Why You Need A Home Inspection On New Homes:
As your ASHI Certified Home Inspector, I am a trained fresh set of eyes thoroughly and methodically inspecting your new home. I’m hired to provide an unbiased objective opinion as to the condition of the home. I’m not a salesperson and do not care if you buy the home. On average, I ‘m on-site 4-5 hours depending on the size of the home. When you are spending ‘X’ amount of dollars on a new home, the cost of a professional home inspection is pennies. You won’t find a more sound investment!
Finding A Good Builder:
The sign of a good Builder is one who is honest, has a strong base of quality sub-contractors on the job, has good quality control, and stands behind their product after the closing. Talk to neighbors that have lived in one of the Builder’s homes for 6 months or more. They’ll tell you everything…especially if they’re not pleased with the Builder.
City/County Code Inspections:
Just because the Builder has been issued the Certificant of Occupancy for the new home doesn’t mean all of the major issues have been found and corrected. All it means is the City or County has conducted their phase inspections (Rough-In Electrical, Rough-In Plumbing, Final Electrical, Final Plumbing, Mechanical, etc) If they found any issues, they red-tagged them, and returned to pass the house if the issues were taken care of to their approval. Each time, the Code Inspector was on-site for those items only and for a minimal amount of time. They did not inspect the entire home. All of the photos below were taken after the Cert of Occupancy was issued. Enjoy;-)
Photo #1 Skimping on Concrete for Driveways
Minimum required concrete thickness for a residential driveway is 3.5″. The photo was taken of a driveway on a brand new home constructed by a large tract Builder in Omaha, NE. They had to pour a new driveway for my client.
Photo #2 Open hole in flue pipe
This large tract Builder in Omaha, NE forgot to close up the 4″ hole in the flue pipe between where the furnace flues connect and the water heater connects. Carbon monoxide was spewing into the finished basement of this brand new home. Thank God I caught it before my clients moved in!
Photo #3 A nice relaxing soak in the jetted tub…
…might not be so relaxing if the pump motor isn’t bonded! This was a high-end custom-built home.
Photo #4 Holy roof
Ever take a knife to an umbrella while it’s raining? You’ll get the same impact as this new home’s roof. The Roofer didn’t have the nail gun set right and nailed the entire roof with nails poking up 1/4″. I counted over 70 nails poking all the way through the shingles already. The 3 adjacent homes had the same issues with their roofs in this tract built development!
Photo #5 Door wide open for my radon test!!!
This large tract builder loves to severely restrict radon tests from Friday afternoons to Monday mornings. They usually only give you 1 weekend to perform the test. It happens to usually be the same day that they have the cleaning crew in to open all of the windows and doors just before the test starts on Friday afternoon and then on Monday by 8 a.m. they’ve got the doors back open for the carpet installers. EPA Protocol states a house has to have closed-house conditions 12 hours prior to setting the test and during the test. I showed up 45 minutes earlier than their approved 3 p.m. time slot to set this radon test to find the front door wide open. The Builder couldn’t understand why that wouldn’t be a legit test. He stated other home inspectors set the test this way all the time! I can’t speak for others, but I refused to set the test then and conducted a legit test the following weekend.
Photo #6 New development…notice anything wrong with the decks?
Picture a toddler climbing up the railings and falling 10′-12′. That’s the #1 reason balusters are supposed to be vertical and no more than 4″ apart. This is common sense. Unfortunately, today’s minimum code requirements do not specify “vertical”. They only require that a 4″ sphere can’t pass through. The Builder of this tract built development hung their hat on this fact…not mention it’s faster to build the decks this way and sent me a threatening letter drafted by their attorney demanding me to take this photo off my website. As this IS a serious safety concern for any parents with little children and it’s my job to point out safety hazards, this photo will stay up;-)
As a followup note, the houses this Builder continued to build on the other side of the street all had decks with vertical balusters. Hmmm.
Photo #7 Where is this Builder’s quality control?
This gusset plate was one of many found in the attic of this new home that were loose. This one was so bad that the teeth pulled all the way out from the wood. These trusses were breached and they should have never been installed.
Photo #8: Builder insisted this was fine!
He sat there right in front of my client and the agent, watched the inspection video and said there was nothing wrong with this. 3 days later he stated he had the Truss Manufacturer out who supposedly looked at it in person and found nothing wrong with it. Then he said the City Inspector looked at it and said the same thing. I’m still waiting for my phone call back from the Chief Building Inspector on this one;-) Unbelievable!
Photo #9 Manufacturer’s defect
This truss rafter found on a new contruction was missing a gusset plate. There weren’t any teeth marks in the wood that indicated the gusset plate was never installed. The Truss Manufacturer missed it, the Builder missed it, and the City issued the Certificate of Occupancy.
Photo #10 Damaged floor truss
It was either this one or another one like it that was located directly above the furnace and surrounded by duct work. Not at easy repair;-)
Photo #11 When the gusset plate pulls loose, just nail it!
The only proper way to repair this damaged attic truss is to have the truss manufacturer remove the gusset plate, install larger plates on both sides, and sandwich them together using a portable press. (The press weighs in at over 100 lbs!) Nice attempt by the Builder to repair it with a hammer and a few nails though;-)
Photo #12 Passed! Another damaged floor truss
I love it when they deliver the trusses on a flat bed truck and dump them onto the ground into a pile! They should be lifting each attic truss off with a crane and setting them into place and either doing the same with the floor trusses or using a loader with forks so they are not damaged.
Final Note On Trusses:
The housing stimulus in 2009 created a huge push for new home sales in the small-to-mid-size homes. Tract builders were having record months, especially towards September and October. Quality control seemed to have been put on the back burner for some of the Builders. It was not uncommon for me to find approximately 50% of the new homes that had truss systems, either in the attic, floor, or both with at least 1 breached truss. Most of those inspections turned up 3-4 breached. 1 house turned up 17 out of the 20 breached! The sad thing was, when these breached trusses were brought to the Builders’ attention, I would explain to my clients how they were supposed to be fixed, and we would catch some of the Builders improperly trying to hammer the loose gusset plates back in to cover it up. Once the gusset plate has pulled loose from the wood, there’s nothing for the teeth to grip into anymore, and that entire truss span has a serious risk of not being able to hold the intended load! This can be a serious structural concern especially under the ripe conditions of the sheer cloud that blew through at 115 mph in ’08 or the Blizzard of ’09 around Christmas with gusting winds of 50 mph, 1/4″ of ice buildup, and 14″ of heavy snow. What a time for a roof to collapse because the Builder didn’t notice or didn’t care about the damaged trusses!
Photo #13 Cracked Serpentine heat exchanger
This furnace was 7 years old. I love it when the HVAC Tech calls me up and says he can’t find the crack. Most of the time though, they don’t even call. They simply state the furnace is NOT cracked and is working fine! I’m mentioning this in the new construction segment because the majority of furnaces installed in new homes have this type of exchanger. I can normally find cracks in a Serpentine with eyelets within 10 years. FYI! If you have any say during the build, I’d avoid this type of heat exchanger regardless of manufacturer.
Photo #14 Yes, you are looking at mushrooms…
…growing inside the main bathroom above the window. This brand new home sat vacant for 2 years with bad flashing around the window. The Builder refused to make repairs, so my clients walked. I didn’t think they were asking for anything unreasonable here!
Photo #15 Why are my heat bills so high???
The insulation spanning 2′ along the entire exterior wall over the living room was never installed. This was a high-end ranch house that the Builder built for himself and sold when the economy went south. There were only 9″ of loose blown Fiberglass throughout most of the attic. To attain the minimum acceptable R-38, it needed to be 12″-14″ thick. There were numerous spots where you could see the drywall ceiling and the canned lights. Not well insulated at all.
Photo #16 This Air Conditioner took me forever to inspect!
No matter where you are in the Omaha Metro, economic times are tough. If you don’t fence in your A/C or heat pump, it might take a walk;-)
Photo #17 How To Flood Your Basement 101
This Builder just didn’t get it…and he did the entire side of the street the same way! Not only is he discharging the sump pump at the foundation…which can lead to water running back into the basement or settlement of the foundation, BUT he’s also going to be washing out soil underneath the driveway.
Photo #18 How to Flood Your Basement 102
Slope the entire lawn from the nearby neighbor’s foundation right to yours…and then install a window well that is flush with the soil;-)
Photo #19: This new modular has a 3/4″ gap down the center…
…visible in the basement. After work, my client would sit in his living room and listen to his house creak. There were cracks in his drywall all throughout. The Builder should have either butted both halves up tight or inserted spacers to prevent any movement.
Photo #20: Same modular with 1″ gap visible in attic
My client found out that the Builder quit and went back to his old job as a used car salesman. I think that was a smart move.
Photo #21: High-end home with NO attic intake vents
The entire house had NO soffit vents. This was a $600,000 home!
Photo #22: Million dollar view of a vent stack;-)
This proud new homeowner of this $800,000 lakefront home returned from vacation to find this wonderful obstruction to their scenic view. The Builder had sent over somebody who hastilly added an extension to the fireplace flue to prevent the pilot from blowing out without any concern for the view. The new home also had 11 active water leaks coming through the walls at the windows due to bad flashing. During a rain storm, you could see water flowing down the inside of the walls. The Builder was building another house 3 houses down from them and they couldn’t get him to make the repairs. Had they had the inspection done prior to closing, they could have made the repairs contractual and forced the Builder to make repairs prior to moving in.