Pre-Occupancy Inspection

Did you know that if you move into your house and something is wrong with it, the builder only has to correct it to a warranty level of correction? For instance if the roof is done incorrectly and will only have a life of 5 years of so, then they only have to do a patch so it meets minimum warranty standards, even if it will still fail in 5 years. With a Pre-Occupancy Inspection, you don’t have to buy it unless it is fixed right.

Once you pay for the house, it’s yours… with all the problems. Don’t get stuck with a lemon!

Have you ever bought a $100 warranty on a $500 TV?  If a home inspection cost that much it would be $80,000 on a $400,000 house. WOW!

Top 10 defects in new homes

Grade (dirt) too close to siding, stucco or brick

The grade should be 6 inches below brick and 8 inches below siding and stucco.  This allows the water that ‘wicks’ up the concrete to dry out before it gets the wood framing too wet.

Not a lot of landscape contractors, builders or homeowners realize that this is required, or why.

If the grade actually covers the bottom of the siding/ stucco/ brick the wall behind can actually rot out in less than 6 months

Attic ventilation and insulation

Attics should be well ventilated, with consistent insulation as this prevents moisture build up, stops mold from growing, prevents ice damming and extends shingle life

Often builders don’t install the insulation correctly and will leave bare spots, and often bathroom or other vents will terminate in the attic, directly introducing moist air to the attic.

If the insulation is not consistent through the attic then ice damming can occur, and if fans are not vented properly there could be mold in your attic.

Downspout and gutter placement

Downspouts should direct water away from the house a minimum of 4-6 feet as this helps prevent water infiltration into the basement.  Downspouts also should not drain onto lower roofs, as excessive wear will result on small portions of the roof, also voiding the shingle manufacturer’s warranty.

Often downspouts drain onto lower roofs and the contractors do not ensure that the water is actually going away from the house.

A downspout draining at the foundation can lead to flooded basements, broken concrete (sidewalks, driveways) or plugging of the weeping tile.  A downspout draining onto a lower roof will void the shingle manufacturer’s warranty as well as taking up to 75% of the life of the shingles away.


Plumbers have been known to cut structure to install toilets etc. Usually they try to correct this, but how good is it?  Often plastic pressure lines are not properly shielded in walls, what happens when you hang a picture?

Often the design of the house or a slight misinterpretation of the drawings by the framer and the plumber still has to put the toilet where it is supposed to go, but now there is a structural defect.

A single joist cut, or column moved can dramatically affect the structure of a house.  One nail thru a pressure line can flood all levels of a house

Heating, ventilation and cooling

HVAC technicians need to run heat to all areas of houses, sometimes structure is in the way, that can’t be good.  Also often times the duct lines are not properly sealed against air leakage, this leads to heat/cold loss and potential moisture build up behind walls

Often the design of the house or a slight misinterpretation of the drawings by the framer and the HVAC technicians still has to put the heat/cool runs where they are supposed to go, but now there is a structural defect.

A single joist cut, or column moved can dramatically affect the structure of a house.  One leaking heat run in a wall can lead to moisture damage and fungal growth in a whole wall.


Many times errors in the field or changes to structure dramatically effects how the house performs, or lasts

If the framing contractor accidentally misplaces one telepost by 2 inches, suddenly 1/2 the house is resting on less that a 1/2 inch of beam, if the concrete contractor makes the beam pockets too deep framers will put small pieces of wood to build it up, did you know that wood is 2 to 4 times stronger with the grain?

So a misplaced telepost can cause a beam to crush and fail 6 months or more after the house is completed.

Last minute changes

If plans change from an electric stove to a gas stove, the hood fan may have to go higher, If a door is moved 6 inches inside the house, suddenly a whole second story may be supported on 3/4″ plywood.

If the engineer who designs the house puts one number wrong into their calculations, the structure may not be able to hold up the whole house.

Any one of the sub-contractors, designers, trades, or general contractor can change something with potentially disastrous results

Electrical defects

On today’s large complicated houses, it is not unusual to have some wiring done incorrectly; this is more common on rebuilds in older areas

Most new houses aren’t designed to have overhead power drops, and often doors, windows or other hazards are too close to the power lines.

Electricians don’t usually need to know older building techniques

Water heaters

Is it installed properly, does it have enough make up air, are proper fire breaks around it

The more complicated the house the more likely that an error will been made here

Plumbers don’t always have to deal with the what if’s of construction

Just plain ‘what the heck?’

If a door to the bathroom is installed backwards, then the plumber installs the toilet, the door may be stuck behind the toilet.

Decorative lights if mounted too close to the ceiling can be a fire hazard

Sometimes I look at it and think that they couldn’t have screwed it up this much if they tried.

I recommend that you still have an 11 month warranty inspection, because as a house ‘settles’ for the first year, defects with installation and materials will show up.