Importance of Inspecting Newer Homes

Bill Bergstedt
Certified Master Home Inspector
Inspecting in California and Nevada
530-577-7811 (office)


There is a common misconception that newer or just completed homes do not need a home inspection.  It is easy to understand why that is the thinking yet nothing could be further from the truth.  The thinking that it's a new home, therefore what could be wrong with it seems to make sense yet after many new home inspections I've found that newer homes have as many and sometimes more issues than quality built homes of some years ago.

Newer homes are built with lumber that is rarely kiln dried as were older homes which also often had #1 studs and joists: end result is that as the newer products dry out, they tends to crack, twist, warp, pop dry wall screws and pull away from other components such as window frames and door casings.  On the exterior it often leaves exposure to moisture intrusion which is a source for rot and mold.  Older homes had lumber used for flooring, wall sheathing and roofing which was a thicker, stronger product than the currently used OSB, particle board, masonite, wood composition trims and plywood.  These newer products when exposed to moisture tend to delaminate, crumble, flake, rot and fail in many ways.

Newer homes have many new concepts such as whole house wrap and other vapor sealing products which offer greater energy efficiency.  Home inspection testing has found that they do not breathe and exchange inside/outside air as often or in the larger volume of older homes.  While energy efficiency certainly has its merits it also traps moisture from the wet wood materials, the damp sheetrock and water based paints and they do not immediately dry out.  Aagain, resulting rot and mold may occur.

Many older homes were built by skilled contractors and craftsmen, often the labor was themselves and their immediate families.  They truly cared about quality and rarely took short cuts or cut costs to just get by.  Older homes usually took more time to build, the finished product was a matter of pride.  Many newer homes are built as quickly as possible by the cheapest labor that can be found and often by completely unskilled workers with minimal supervision.  This especially true in sub-divisions.  Cost cutting issues are often utilized to get the least expense and the greatest profit.

With no intent to slander the major big box stores, the fact is they cater to the "do it yourselfers" who are excited about the chance to hands on build the deck and save thousands of dollars ,or change some electrical features or add an appliance or convenience.  In many instances these home owners are neither craftsmen of the trade nor are they trained on how to do it.  End result is frequent Safety Hazards.  Another flaw exists in newer products that have not stood the test of time.  Recently this has proven true in recalled appliances, failed electrical components, some with fires, insulation products with several hazards including health.  There have also been failed plumbing products including gas control valves.  Many failures have occured in the plastics world.  Several roofing products have had recalls and class action lawsuits.  Hundreds of failures and hazards are occurring with Chinese-made products, e.g. Chinese Drywall and electrical fixtures.  There are a lot of other items which need not be mentioned, the issue should be recognized by now.

There is also the belief that a new or newer home can't have anything wrong with it.  After all it was inspected by a city or county building inspector.  If only that were the case.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

One last and more recent reason to have a very comprehensive professional new home inspection is with new or nearly new foreclosed homes.  Some of the new homes were foreclosed before the home was completed. Many were abandoned by upset or angry inhabitants who either stripped many of the items from the home or in frequent instances sabotaged the house, sometimes in unseen and sneaky ways.  Empty foreclosures often get the same treatment by thieves or vandals.  There are thousands of foreclosed homes in America that are not safe for habitation.

For your own peace of mind, make sure you engage the services of a professional home inspector who has long history in inspecting and is qualified to find the safety issues in the house you are purchasing.