If you buy a new construction home, the most important step one can take to protect your rights against faulty construction or hidden problems is to have the home inspected before the end of the first year.
Even more important than a pre-closing inspection is this one.
If you don't notice anything strange while your new home is being built, we tell our clients to save the inspection fee and use the money to pay for a one-year warranty inspection (before the year is up).
WHY SHOULD I WAIT TO SEE IF THE HOUSE HAS DEFICIENCIES?
A pre-closing home inspection can find common problems, and we often find small ones like small plumbing leaks, missing grout or caulking, sticky windows, or other typical "punch-list" issues. Sometimes we find AC vents or electrical outlets that were covered with drywall, loose driveway pavers, or broken sprinkler heads, but these problems should also be found during the final walk-through with the builder. The main things that cause most hidden issues are covered up.
Even if the home inspector is good and knows a lot about framing, slab construction, or stucco, there is only a little you can do at this point unless there are specific and well-documented changes from the local building code. You have a contract with the builder that says you'll take the house if it's built according to local building codes and in line with how other homes are made in the area.
If it passed all of the inspections from the local building department and got a Certificate of Occupancy, you are usually required by law to close. Even though a good home inspector with more than the minimum qualifications needed to get a license as a home inspector can point out problems, this information has little legal weight. The builder doesn't have to follow "best practices" unless it's part of a custom contract. They must follow the local building code, which may differ from best practices. In short, "predictive failure" is not something the law can fix.
WHY WOULDN'T I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PROBLEMS BEFORE I BUY THE HOUSE?
Hidden or hidden construction flaws may appear after a few months, but it could take longer. If you want to file a construction defect claim, you must find and report the problem as soon as possible. Early detection can also save money on repairs and keep things from getting in the way too much. A builder is always more likely to fix something small than something expensive. If the builder says no to your repair claim, you may have to do the work and pay for it while you go to court. Claims about construction can take years to settle.
It is always best to make your builder do a thorough walk-through inspection and test all appliances, windows, doors/locksets, lights, and fans. It would be best if you wrote down where the supply and return vents are in each room. Check the grout in the showers and the caulking around the tubs and sinks.
A pre-closing home inspection differs from an 11th-month inspection or an inspection done by the builder. A builder warranty inspection aims to identify any problems or flaws that can be seen BEFORE the first year of the builder warranty is up. This is very important to protect you in the future from bad work or materials.
State law limits how long a buyer has to file a claim against a builder. These laws are called the Statute of Limitations and the Statute of Repose. "Breach of warranty claims based on the design, planning, or building of an improvement to real property are time-barred after four years." When it comes to latent construction defects, the time to file a lawsuit "runs from the time the defect is found or should have been found with due diligence." Construction defect cases can only be started by the statute of repose, even if the problem is apparent.
You have to tell the builder about a problem.
The key phrase, in this case, is "should have been found." This makes it more critical for you, the homeowner, to notice the problem and tell the builder about it. Builders can make a strong case that the situation got worse because the homeowner didn't tell them about it when it first showed up or because the problem was caused by neglect or inadequate maintenance.
Florida law gives buyers of new homes four years of structural warranty coverage. Still, most builders pass the responsibility for warranty repairs to a third-party company after the first year. This information is in the contract you signed to buy the home. It would be best to figure out what is covered and how much.
Home buyers usually only get all of the warranty paperwork once closing or even after completing it. Most of the time, the builder's structural warranty company will offer you additional home warranty plans. These plans may cover repairs to appliances, pool equipment, and other essential home parts. If you're worried about repair costs, think about this. Most of the time, the builder is not required by law to fix or replace appliances after the first 90 days.
The builder's warranty covers problems with the structure and hidden problems. It usually doesn't include regular and ongoing maintenance that isn't caused by a flaw in the building's design, such as minor roof leaks, plumbing leaks, HVAC mechanical failure, paint, appliances, or other regular maintenance. Builders pass on the trade guarantees they get from their subcontractors, so it's essential to know who the contractors are and what guarantees they offer. Most contractors offer a one-year warranty on their work, and they tell you about any manufacturer warranties that apply to your roof, water heater, windows/doors, or AC system. Most of the time, the builder is no longer responsible for these parts after one year.
BUILDERS LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
When you tell the builder about a problem or a defect, the builder might not be able to send you to a third-party warranty company. Builders must tell the warranty company about any issues they know or think they know about with a home. If they know about a problem, they can't pass your claim on to someone who doesn't know about it. Even if they pass you off, you have done what the law says you must do to let the builder know about your concern. If a claim arises, the builder will have difficulty persuading a judge or arbitrator that the problem was because you needed to take care of the property or keep it up.
You have put a lot of money into your new home, so you must know your rights to get a safe place to live. Most people buy new houses because they want to know they will only have to spend a little money on repairs for a long time. People who just bought a new home are shocked to discover that it has significant flaws that may be expensive. There may also be a drop in resale value if there are problems with mold or water.
The great news is that you can take steps to protect your claim rights if your home has hidden flaws. Based on more than 40 years of building and inspecting, we suggest the following:
Pre-Closing Punch Inspection (optional): We will check all windows, exterior doors, garage door, sprinkler system, appliances, shelving, electrical outlets, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, exterior siding, paint, and foundation, and do a thermal scan of the walls and ceilings to find buried vents and electrical outlets. We don't check things that the local building department usually contains. For a typical home, the fee is usually around $375.00 but will vary. Call for pricing.
11th Month Warranty Inspection: At this inspection, we will check the roof, siding, paint, exterior doors, and windows, foundation and do a thermal scan of the walls to look for signs of moisture. This inspection is meant to find problems with the wall cladding and the foundation. If there are problems, we will note what they are and where they are so we can track how they get worse or get worse over time. This is very important if a claim comes up. The fee depends on how big and complicated the house is, but it usually costs between $450 and $600.
2nd-Year Warranty Inspection: At this inspection, we'll follow up on our last inspection (if we did one) and keep track of any worsened problems. We may need invasive testing to back up a claim if there is a clear progression. The fee depends on the size/complexity of the home and the issue. If there isn't a big problem and we don't have to do invasive testing, the fee is usually around $450.00.
The 4th year/final warranty inspection is meant to find structural problems and inform you about upcoming maintenance and repair needs.
You should know that construction law is complicated, and if you get into a dispute with a builder, you will need a lawyer who knows about construction law. Your lawyer will be happy if you have paperwork that shows the builder knew about the problems but did nothing to fix them.
CONTACT DREAM HOME INSPECTIONS FOR AN INSPECTION OF YOUR NEW-BUILT HOME
You'll need to hire a qualified inspector if you want your newly built home to be inspected. Your inspector should be licensed. Your inspector should know more than the person who built your house.
Dream Hime Inspections is a multi-disciplined property inspection company that inspects new homes in Daytona Beach, FL, and the surrounding areas of Volusia, Flagler, Seminole, and St, John's County of Florida. We are licensed and insured for home inspections, wind mitigations, 4-point inspections, and preconstruction inspections, and we have other subcontracted companies for WDO inspections. We are one of the most reliable and experienced inspection companies. Dream Home Inspections has performed tens of thousands of inspections. Call us at (386) 383-3270 to schedule your inspection, or visit our website to request one immediately.