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Builder Blunders

Updated 5-15-08

I truly believe that the vast majority of homebuilders strive to provide quality products and customer service to their homebuyers. However, often the lack of competent supervision in the field, coupled with shortened building schedules and uncaring subcontractors result in construction defects and warranty service issues that could have been prevented.

The following are issues that I have discovered while performing pre-closing inspections and first year warranty inspections on newly constructed homes. I should have started this page years ago, but didn’t. I’m only going to go back to the start of 2008, but will update regularly.

The message is clear: “Don’t Trust Your Builder To Inspect His Own Work!”

Inspection 1-5-08
This was a pre-closing inspection on a semi-custom 5,200 sq. ft. home. Nothing was visible to the naked eye, but thermal imaging and subsequent testing with a moisture meter showed moisture infiltration right behind the main electric panel.

Inspection 1-11-08
This was a first year warranty inspection. Right away it was clear that the stucco was defective. It was flaking off the house at several areas and soft to the touch. This entire house had to be re-stuccoed and re-painted!

The balcony door was not installed properly. It stuck out at more than 1” at the top. You could stick your hand between the trim and the wall.

I found separated a/c duct in the attic that was never properly sealed. Too bad they didn’t have the house inspected before they closed. They could have saved on a years worth of inflated heating and cooling bills!

Inspection 1-21-08
This was a first year warranty inspection. The buyer did not get an inspection before they closed. I found a major separation in the a/c duct in the attic. Another year of inflated heating and cooling bills!

Inspection 2-9-08
On this warranty inspection I found an impact break in the stucco and wall substrate. That means someone broke a large piece of the Styrofoam lath behind the chicken wire and the wall has lost its rigidity. An area approx. two feet square was affected.

The backing for the electrical panel was mounted improperly, so the main panel stuck out of the wall 1/2” on one side and in 1/2” on the other.

Last but not least, the dining room ceiling was out of level. It sloped a full inch in twelve feet. How this was not caught earlier was a mystery. All of these issues would have been caught at a pre-closing inspection.

Inspection 2-11-08
Here a gas flue pipe did not have the proper clearance to combustibles. This is a fire hazard the owner lived with for a year.

Inspection 3-11-08
On this warranty inspection thermal imaging really paid off. I found displaced insulation above the master bedroom vaulted ceiling and a drain leak from the upstairs toilet, in the garage ceiling.

Inspection 6-30-08
Thermal imaging in this inspection revealed missing insulation in the down stairs bedroom wall shared with the garage. The bedroom lamp is visible in the foreground. No visual attic inspection could find this type of defect.

These are just some of the issues I have found in the last several months. Other common problems are leaking faucets, lack of caulking at exterior door trim and improperly sealed roof to wall connections. Probably 90% of the issues I see could have been caught during construction or at the walkthrough.
Remember the lesson:

Don’t Trust Your Builder To Inspect His Own Work!