It's important to know what to look for before conducting a final walk-through on your new home. The more detailed your review of the newly-constructed facility, the greater the chance that you can find problems which the builder can fix before you move in.
Home Completion Starts the Inspections
When the builder feels that a home is completed, they contact the city and have the city inspectors complete their final inspections. When the city has signed off on the home, the builder is ready for you to do a "walk through." This is the time when the builder meets the homeowner at the new home and "walks" the homeowner through the home allowing the homeowner to inspect the home.
Just because the home passed the city inspections doesn't mean that everything is perfect. After the contractors have completed their portion of the building job, the city inspectors verify that the building is built within code. The city inspectors do not inspect for cosmetic flaws nor do they inspect for functional issues such as a leaky faucet or scratched floor. It is not uncommon for a new home to have 10 to 30 items that need attention by the builder.
Tips for a Successful Walk Through
- Put it in writing: Don't rely on the builder's representative to make your list. Make your own list of items that you want to have fixed. Mail your list to the builder using certified mail. Be sure to get a proof of delivery to the builder. You will be glad you took the extra time to prepare your list and track the delivery if there is a dispute later with the builder about what they needed to fix.
- Take your time: Don't feel that you need to rush through your walk through. If the builder's representative tells you that he or she only has an hour, you can still take as much time as you need and mail your written comments to the builder.
- Schedule wisely: Allow a three to seven days between the home inspection and the closing in case the builder needs time to fix issues that were identified during the home inspection.
- Insist on issues being fixed: Don't close on the purchase of the home until the issues are fixed. Once you close on the house, the builder may not be motivated to move quickly to complete the items on your check list.
Making a New Home Inspection Checklist
Every home is different, but many houses have the same potential issues. A builder may give you a new home inspection checklist to use during your walk through. You can use their list or download a free home inspection checklist of your own. Be sure the check list you use includes the following items:
Heating and Cooling
- Turn on the heater and listen to it go on.
- Check that air is coming out of all the vents or check if radiators or convectors are getting warm to the touch.
- Turn up the thermostat at least five degrees over room temperature. Make sure the heater continues to run and then shuts off.
- Turn on the air conditioner and listen to it go on.
- Check that cool air is coming out of all the vents.
- Turn down the thermostat at least five degrees under room temperature. Make sure the air conditioner continues to run and then shuts off.
- Inspect each light fixture to make sure it is fully-installed and that there are no broken parts to the fixture.
- Turn on each light switch and fixture to test that it works correctly.
- Plug a radio into each electrical outlet to be sure that the outlet functions.
- Test the doorbell.
- Check every faucet to make they turn on and off easily.
- Run every fixture for five minutes. Check for leaks from the base of the fixture and drips from the faucet.
- Check countertops for scratches and abrasions.
- Inspect the front of each cabinet for a smooth finish.
- Open every cabinet. Look for sturdy hinges and hardware.
- Pull out every drawer as far as possible. Be sure each drawer pulls in and out smoothly.
- Turn on each appliance and make sure that it functions correctly.
- Inspect the bathtub, shower, sink and toilet for chips and cracks.
- Close the bathtub and sink stopper. Add a couple of inches of water. Wait two to three minutes to be sure the stopper does not leak.
- Flush every toilet. Check for leaks around the base of the toilet.
- Sit on the toilet to make sure it is securely fastened to the floor.
- Check glass to make sure there are no cracks.
- Open every window to its fullest and then close it tight. Hold a lit match or lighter around the edges of the window. A flickering flame will signal an air leak.
- Check each for sturdy hinges and hardware.
- Be sure there is a screen tightly installed on every window. Look for holes or tears in the screen.
- Open and close all doors to their fullest and then close. Look for a smooth operation of the hinge with no dragging at the bottom of the door.
- Make sure all sides of the door are painted, including the tops, bottoms and edges.
- Lock and unlock every door. Look for a smooth operation of the lock with no binding.
- Check the threshold under every door to be sure there is no open space under the door.
Walls, Floors and Ceilings
- Check the finish for the desired level of smoothness.
- Check drywall for visible seams or nail heads.
- Confirm that paint and varnish colors are correct.
- Check floor and ceiling moldings. Look for a smooth finish with no protruding nail heads. Check for gaps that may need caulking.
- Look for broken, chipped or cracked floor and wall tiles. Check for missing grout.
- Look for scuff marks on hardwood, tile and linoleum flooring.
- Check carpeted areas. Look for loose fitting carpet at the edges or in the middle of the room.
Porches and Decks
- Check the sturdiness of the construction.
- Be sure that there are no exposed nails or screws.
- Open and close the door. Be sure the door opens and closes completely.
- If there is an automatic garage door opener, test the door from the wall switch and the remote control openers. Open the door halfway and then quickly stop the opening. Place a small item like a bucket under the open door and then close the door to test the reversing device. Be sure that the light bulb in the automatic door opener is functioning.
Basement and Attic
- Check the walls for cracks and water damage.
- Check attic ventilation system. Manually turn any fans or blades.
- Check exterior paint for defects. Be sure it is the correct color and that all surfaces are evenly covered.
- Check to make sure all gutters and downspouts are installed.
- Be sure there are no cracks in the garage floor, driveway or patio.
Checklists Can be Powerful
Your checklist is your way to tell your builder what you think needs to be completed on your new home in order to be the home that you purchased. Most reputable builders are very willing to work with you to complete the items on your checklist.
Consider Hiring a Professional Inspector
If you are not comfortable doing your own inspection before closure, you can hire a home inspector to complete the inspection. Be sure to check with your prospective inspector to make sure they are skilled in inspecting new homes in your geographic area. Inspectors for new homes often require special skills that are not required of inspectors of older houses.