Inspections of Texas

The Real Problem With New Construction

Although it is more expensive, most people think buying a new house is a lot like buying a new car or appliance or any other new product.  It is NOT!  If you bought a new house without having a detailed and thorough inspection, there are going to be some major problems you could face in the next few years. 

Texas hasn’t had much rain in the last few months, but the rain will come.  Much of the Houston Metropolitan Area will experience some flooding – even if it is only a few streets.  After several weeks the streets and the yards start to fill up with water.  If the water does not drain well, there will be a loss of grass in those areas.  When the water sits for days in one area, the grass dies and the yard will attract mosquitoes.  The sitting water will also affect the house’s foundation.

We have expansive clay-based soil mixture in southeast Texas.  When water sits and soaks, the clay swells.  Clay can grow up to 300 times its size when wet.  In the areas that stay wet, pressure accumulates under the foundation while the areas that dry quickly sink down.  Eventually, this can displace the concrete and crack the foundation. 

About a year ago, we inspected a 13-month-old house that had dropped 3-1/2 inches on the back left corner.  The cost to fix it was $56,000.  According to a structural engineer, the ground was not correctly prepared before the concrete was placed.

There are many other issues we commonly see:

  • Some houses don’t have all of the GFCI protection according to the International Building Code. Some outlets have the hot and ground switched. 
  • Appliances frequently don’t perform as intended.
  • Insulation is often not correct. We’ve even seen a few houses where the builder forgot to install the attic insulation!
  • There’s about a 25 percent chance your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system operate doesn’t correctly! This is just for performance. 
  • Gas pipe lines to the Heater and the Water heaters are usually not bonded as required (85-90%).
  • Many builders save around $400 per house by installing the wrong air conditioning ducts. R-6, not allowed by the energy code since 2012, is installed in 95% of the homes instead of R-8. 
  • Builders often install either the roof sheathing or the underlayment where it blocks the ridge vents at the top of the roof in about 25 to 35% of new homes. This affects the life of both your roof shingles and the HVAC system. 

Unlike a car manufacturer that uses robots to build new vehicles, builders have people building new homes.  People make mistakes.  The faster people are pushed to work, the more mistakes they make.  Even the most trusted builders have a bad crew of people or try to cut corners on the cost. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your new home doesn’t need to be inspected or trusting that your builder’s inspector caught all the mistakes.  We often inspect homes that are 3 to 6 months old when the homeowner sees problems develop.  They are always surprised at how much we find that is wrong.

Protect your investment!  Get your new home inspected! 

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