In Northern Virginia there is still a lot of new home construction. New homes are a great source of business for me. People often ask me if this or that is a good builder. My answer is: it depends on the supervisor who is on site every day, and on the quality of the subcontractors. All the builders have good specifications for their homes and want to put out a good product. It is the crew on site that makes that happen. And if the subs were picked up in a parking lot somewhere ("We need plumbers today - are you a plumber?") you will have problems...
When I am called for such inspections, I only recommend two to my clients as relevant: pre-drywall and just before their final walk through. Of the two, the pre-drywall may be the most important.
Pre-drywall inspections afford the only opportunity to see the house while in a skeletal state. It should be conducted just before the drywall installation and after the insulation has been applied. Many issues are visible because many systems are visible. Things can be seen that will become problems later. It sounds like common sense to have such inspections, but many people don't. Then someone else buys the house down the line and flaws pop up, flaws that may or may not have previously manifested themselves. Such as these:
However, I thought it useful to provide a small list of What I'm Seeing Now on pre-drywall inspections. While nothing is "common," these seem to happen a lot. There are six in total. I will treat them in separate, subsequent blog posts.
The first is insulation that has not been stapled to the studs. This can be a big problem. The supervisor might say that it's "oversized" insulation and held in place by the drywall. It may be oversized, but it is not held in place over time - gravity works!
When people call for one-year warranty inspections, I always suggest that they pay extra for an infrared inspection. Click the "Thermal Inspection" tab at the top of the home page on my website for an explanation of what this inspection is. I will ask the client if they have any rooms that are really hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Invariably they do. It is amazing what a thermal infrared camera will "see!" Depending on the season I may have them turn up the heat or down the AC - to get a good temperature variance (called "Delta T") between indoors and out. But often it is hot or cold enough outside to get a good look at the exterior walls and ceilings abutting the attic space. Clients are amazed when they see whole sections of walls or cathedral ceilings seemingly without insulation!
They can see that it was not stapled and slipped. Sometimes it had been removed by the builder to effect some repair and was never replaced. You would never know that without a thermal investigation! The cameras aren't cheap! But they are very worth it. Few home inspectors even have one...
My recommendation: On a pre-drywall inspection always look for a quality insulation job. And look to see if it has been properly stapled. If not, make that point to your supervisor.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560