What I'm Seeing Now

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New Construction With A Basement Bathroom Rough In

Many people are buying new construction these days and not finishing the basement.  They think they can do it better, cheaper or with more flair than the builder will deliver.  Here is an example of new construction with a basement bathroom rough in.

This is a final inspection just prior to the buyer taking occupancy.

I did not do a pre-drywall inspection.

This is the "rough in" left for this buyer to finish into a bathroom.

What impresses me is this:

1.  There is no third drain for a sink or tub.  Only two drains were placed in the floor.

2.  The floor will have to be torn up to accommodate a third drain.  The position of the other drains is unknown, so incorporating this drain into the others might be hit or miss.

3.  There is no upward venting provided for displaced air to go.  The nearest area with other plumbing, and venting, is about 30' away.

4.  The drains are oddly placed, so a straight wall would not incorporate the one drain and yet provide enough room to place a toilet inside the wall.

5.  Any wall would cover the side of one of the panel boxes!

6.  If somehow a wall could be positioned to properly accommodate these drains, the space left to get to the panel boxes would be very dark.  A light would need to be installed to see the panel boxes well.

7.  If the rest of the basement is finished and the wall to the right of those panel boxes is covered with studs and drywall, the space to get to the panel boxes would be about 32" wide.  That's a closet!

8.  The panel boxes cannot be incorporated into the bathroom.  It is not permitted to have panel boxes in a bathroom!

All this flew through my head as I first saw this arrangement.  You can tell that this is a big house because there are two 200amp panel boxes.  So this client has money and very much wants to finish the basement.

I am willing to bet that the architect did not design this.  It might be true that this whole corner was intended to be the bathroom and when they ran the electric cables into the house they selected this as the easiest/best place.  But it is a problem!  THE SUPERVISOR SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT THIS.

My recommendation:  builders tell buyers all the time that there is a supervisor on site every day and that the County does many inspections throughout the building of their new home.  And they further tell buyers that because of all that a home inspection is not necessary.  Don't buy it!  Get a home inspection on new construction.  For all you know, doing so will make all the difference.

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 48 commentsJay Markanich • July 29 2011 06:46AM

Comments

Jay,

Good morning! This was a great post and valuable lesson for buyers and agents. I think the lesson learned is to have a home inspector walking through a new build during the construction process. This is going to be an expensive correction for the buyer.

Regards,

 

Betsy

Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, SearchPotomacHomes.com (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Good morning, Jay. Good catch. I'm sure the builder was not too happy with you...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 7 years ago

Thanks Betsy.  I wish I had done the pre-drywall inspection on this house so that problem could have been identified early on.

Michael - the buyer and agent were discussing all their options and I think they are going to decide to have the builder move things!  We'll see how far that gets them, but as the arrangement sits now, it is unusable.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

This also makes you wonder about the construction in the rest of the home. Where else did they make mistakes or cut corners? 

Posted by Betty Knowles, TeamKnowles REALTORS® - Springfield MO Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Vanguard - www.teamknowles.com) about 7 years ago

As with most new construction Betty and John, there were lots of items to bring up.  There will be future posts about a couple of them.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

You wrote:  "THE SUPERVISOR SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT THIS."

I would suggest that, The supervisor should have PREVENTED this.

This is the type of problem that home buyers experience when they bring in the home inspector as an after-thought.

This is an example of why I would recommend that the home inspector be present at the "pre-construction meeting".

 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 7 years ago

I agree with that Lenn!  As you know.  By "catching" this, the supervisor would see well in advance of the slab that the placement of the plumbing and electrical together like that would not work.  At that point, as you suggest, changes should have been made.  Did he even see this until it was too late?

However, at the pre-construction meeting, if the plans had been seen I am betting that the architect did not design this, so the final product as it stands now might not have been caught then.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay - I read this with interest even though we do not have homes with basements in my area.  In fact, I think I have only sold two homes with a basement in all the years I have been in the business.  I always enjoy reading the great inspector posts in ActiveRain and have learned much. 

Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) about 7 years ago

Or even pay the architect to do construction administration so that when a conflict arises it can be worked around before it is an expensive solution.

Posted by Charles Hendricks (The Gaines Group, PLC Architecture and Design) about 7 years ago

Basements are good and bad Barbara!  There are problems, but most can be prevented with good planning.  This was not good planning.

Charles - I'm betting the architect thought this entire corner would be the bathroom, and designed another drain into the original plans!  I can't prove that, but you guys do think ahead!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Valerie - this kind of thing happens on virtually every new construction inspection.  And then the builder gets mad at me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Nothing like planning ahead.  Before I got to #8 I was going to ask why this electric panel would be in the bathroom - didn't seem very safe.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 7 years ago

For sure, Debbie, it isn't permitted.  I find them from time to time when people finish their basements without permits though!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Looks like the contractor said,

If the buyer is going to finish the basement and we are not, then we will place the drains so they will have problems and will call us back to finish the job.

You just never know what a contractor is thinking.

Best, Clint Mckie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 7 years ago

I love Clint's comment.  It shows the difference in builders between Northern Virginia and Carlsbad NM.  The likelihood of a builder "coming back" for anything after closing is virtually nill.  These are not small builders.  These are national stock exchange companies who work a construction schedule by computer and, once closed, except for nail pops and the like, it's over.

A design flaw, unless the buyer wants to mount expensive and time consuming litigation, what you saw at the pre-settlement walk-through is what you get. 

THAT is why the consumer needs good representation before construction.  Sadly, the consumer appears to have a dependency on the honesty and good business practices of the new home builder.

HA!

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 7 years ago

jay once the owner begin work on their new bathroom they WILL find out they should have called JAY earlier.

All the money and time that will be spent getting it to the way they want it will most certainly be DRAINING.

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) about 7 years ago

Actually Clint, I have said that very thing to buyers in the past!  And I have said, "If the builder was going to finish this basement, they would not have done (that thing) the way they did."

Lenn - Your HA! says it all.  Yes, that is true.  The builder will not finish the basement post facto.  And if they did, you wouldn't want to pay their "fee!"

Well put Don!  Gee, was that pun intended?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay,

Great description of what seems to be an all too often issue in new construction. I see problems from the get go all the time. Some of it such basic stuff that you wonder if anyone with any experience is watching over things.

Like you I think if you are going to have a new home built it is well worth the extra funds to have a n experienced inspector such are yourself watch over things.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, Just curious, small time builder or big regional/national builder?  Either way, you'd expect better than this.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) about 7 years ago

Jay, a little pre planning can go a long way as a Ex construction superintendent I know some sub contractors need supervision and direction from the prime at all times.

Posted by Brad Gotham (Granite Peak Inspection, Inc. ) about 7 years ago

Oh the headaches of dealing with builder excuses.

Posted by Bill Warner, Infrared Thermal Inspector (BC Warner Inspections) about 7 years ago

Jay - As you know, locating under-slab plumbing properly isn't always easy.  Unless the builder or his "qualified" representative is there with plans in hand to guide the plumber in locating the plumbing, such mistakes often happen.  You cannot depend upon subcontractors to properly interpret plans or to think ahead.  The builder should admit fault and make corrections.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 7 years ago

Jay, my own first house had a similar arrangement in the lower level.  It eventually worked out to be broken concrete and relocation.  Not a fun project. 

good catch.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) about 7 years ago

Jay, another great reason why anyone buying a new home should consider a home inspection...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 7 years ago

Jay, I have just one question---what is a supervisor?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 7 years ago
That looks suspiciously like a lot of air pressure ballooning the vapor barrier.
Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 7 years ago

How convenient!  I can turn off all the house electric while using the toilet.

Very helpful!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, President, Wrenn Home Improvements (Wrenn Home Improvements) about 7 years ago

Don - I certainly agree with that!  New home construction is surely a difficult thing.  You would think that specs would be met.  And the specs are usually very good, it's just a matter of making them come alive.

Bliz - this one heard a Who.  Is that big enough?

Brad - you are right about that.  When people ask me if this or that is a good builder, my answer is that it depends on the supervisor on site everyday and the subs.

Bill - that end of things isn't my purview!  But the Realtor?  Yeah, that's probably his!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

John - I think you're right.  It is definitely hit or miss.  And who's to say that the subs put things in according to plans?

Jack - anytime you get into the concrete it is a big deal.  And can damage the foundation too.

Chris - I don't think the mental paradigm has shifted yet to where people generally think to get a home inspection on new construction.

Charlie - that is for sure the question of the day!  Where do I send the $64,000?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

It's a fat insulation Robert that they shoot into the wall with pressure nails and small plates.  They hold it pretty well.  It is R-11.

Jeremy - what shouldn't be within reach when you are using the bathroom?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Exactly!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, President, Wrenn Home Improvements (Wrenn Home Improvements) about 7 years ago

I once did an inspection of Joe Theismann's bathroom and there was a phone within reach of the toilet.  Nuff said.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Ha!  Just in case his agent called, or someone for an interview.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, President, Wrenn Home Improvements (Wrenn Home Improvements) about 7 years ago

Definitely a great post.  Breaking up that concrete is not going to be fun or easy for a homeowner who doesn't have any experience with this.  The common sense perspective that an inspector brings to the home buying process is extremely valuable.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Probably the reason Jeremy!  Don't miss anything!  This was years ago, long before cell phones.

Eileen - thank you.  Home inspections are common sensical, and that is where experience counts!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

We always recommend an independent home inspection for new Charlotte NC and SC homes while under construction. 

Over the past 36 months, these inspections have uncovered issues with broken engineered trusses, improperly flashed windows, melted panel wiring, unsecured appliances, improperly wired fire alarms, bent wall framing, missing fire caulking, reversed hot and cold water, nail pops throughout roof, water penetration behind siding, drainage problems and GFI and ARC fault issues. 

While these are seemingly minor and some may never create a problem, some are major, were missed by the building inspector and were a serious safety issue that was easily corrected during the build, but would have been difficult and costly to repair later.

Don't skip the independent inspection.

Posted by Daniel H. Fisher, MCRP - Charlotte Real Estate, NC or SC (www.FisherHermanRealty.com (704) 617-3544) about 7 years ago

Good advice Daniel.  I have been doing them for about 15 years.  They are only recently more popular.  Just yesterday I had a new home with AFCIs that did not work.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Jay, that's a good point.  His house was probably so big he couldn't make it to the phone in time, so he put one there just in case.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, President, Wrenn Home Improvements (Wrenn Home Improvements) about 7 years ago

Jay,   Once again excellent information.  I have re-blogged this post.  I will also be calling you this week.  Thank you.

Posted by Kathleen Vetrano, Helping YOU Achieve YOUR Dreams (RE/MAX Gateway) about 7 years ago

Jeremy - it was, obviously.  This was just before that Super Bowl in LA after which everything hit the fan for him.

Kathleen - thanks!  And call anytime!  I appreciate the reblog too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago
Boy, this list goes on and on. You get very convinced to do your new home inspections on this post in particular.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) about 7 years ago

And people should be Cheryl!  I wish the mental paradigm would shift a bit toward doing them all the time.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Excellent post, and I only saw it thanks to Lenn's mention in her blog post.  I always advise buyers to get their new home inspected, but not all of them listen or do it.  I'd love to share your blog.  Thanks!

Posted by Roberta Kayne, CRS, ABR, SFR, RRS, Realtor, Re/Max Affiliates (Dublin & Central Ohio Homes) about 7 years ago

Thanks Roberta!  Feel free and glad you stopped by!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

Wow, Jay that's a doozy.  YThe first thing that caught my attentuon was the panel.

You've banged out 2-3 nice posts here lately.  BTW, what neighborhood is that house in?

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) about 7 years ago

Yes, Justin, that is an eye catcher!  That neighborhood could get caught in the brambles nearby.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

I'm beginning to think you have a bad attitude towards builders.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 7 years ago

But it's perty, ain't it Jim?  With them there pink covers an'all?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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