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Common problems found while inspecting new homes.

It is very important to concentrate on faulty building practices while inspecting a new home.

 As an inspector, you do not have the luxury of looking for damage that has already happened, you have to be able to perceive what will happen in the coming years.    

 

Improper grading:

  • It is very important to grade your landscape away from your foundation walls.  Newly disturbed dirt will hold onto moisture easier than naturally compacted dirt.  As a result of this, I see many new homes with moisture issues in the basement.  If the back fill around the house is properly compacted and pitched away from the home, you will be able to enjoy a nice dry basement inside of your new home.
  • In order to properly compact back fill, it should be put down in layers 6-8 inches deep and then compacted. You should repeat this process until the proper depth has been reached.
  • Without the proper compaction of back fill, settling is a major threat, not only for water drainage but for structural integrity of the entire property.

Exterior doors and windows without proper flashing:

  • Without proper flashing, water will find its way into the house around door frames and windows.  This excessive moisture will lead to wood rot and may cause mold growth as well as water damage inside of the walls.
  • Flashing should be installed in a way that discharges water away from building materials.

Exterior deck missing properly installed flashing:

  • If the ledger board of a deck is not properly flashed when it is installed, the house frame behind the deck will rot due to repeated moisture.

Non existent attic walkways doesn't sound like a big deal until:

  • You have to change an air filter.
  • Have your HVAC unit serviced
  • You have to tightrope walk along the beams hoping that you don't misstep and cause property or bodily damage.

Fireplace:

  • Builders sometimes install decorative wood molding to close to the opening of the fire place.  This is a hazard and can cause a fire.  
  • Exposed combustible mantels or trim may be placed directly on the masonry fireplace front surrounding the fireplace opening providing such combustible materials shall not be placed within 6 inches (152 mm) of a fireplace opening.
  • Combustible material within 12 inches (306 mm) of the fireplace opening shall not project more than 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) for each 1-inch (25.4 mm) distance from such an opening.

Attic is missing fire stop at an open at an open chase:

  • A chase is an area of the attic if not properly sealed can allow fire to easily enter your attic, which will allow your home to become engulfed in flames faster.  It is very important to make sure all chases, gaps, and holes that lead from one level to another are sealed in case of fire.

Chimney height isn't tall enough

  • All chimneys should extend 2 ft. higher than any portion of the roof within 10 ft. and at least 3 ft higher than any roof penetrations
  • This chimney does not even extend past the soffit vents.  Without correction, carbon monoxide will vent into the attic of this brand new home.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas. Products and equipment powered by internal combustion engines such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers also produce CO.

Roof shingles:

  • Have holes left from toe boards.
  • Toe boards are used by roofers to allow them to walk of pitched roofs.  Any holes left in shingles will lead to a roof leak.  Any shingles that have holes in them should be replaced or sealed with a long lasting sealant. 

 Exterior siding:

  • All exterior wood siding should be properly flashed,painted, and sealed in order to avoid future wood rot.  
  • Brand new homes will not show wood rot, because it takes time for building materials to break down.
  • In some cases the rot won't become evident until after the home warranty has already expired.
  •  Without a  good understanding of proper building practices, you will not see the problem until it is too late.  
  • That is why it is so important to have your investment inspected prior to purchase, no matter how old the structure is.

Radon!!

  • Builders have the ability to use Radon resistant building techniques.
  • Just because they can doesn't mean they did.
  • If you are having a house built, be sure to specifically ask for a Radon resistant construction.
  • If the house is already built, make sure you have a Radon test done prior to purchasing the house.
  • You would rather the builder pay for mitigation than you.
  • Radon is currently the second leading cause of lung cancer in the united states.  
  • Radon is a byproduct of Uranium, a natural mineral found in the ground.
  • Just because your town isn't know to have a high radon level, doesn't mean that the back fill used around your new home isn't contaminated.
  • Testing starts at $125 and takes as little as two days.