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Home Inspections On New vs. Existing Homes: What Agents Need to Know

by Sep 9, 2021

As a real estate agent, you work with a variety of specialized professionals to bring buyers and sellers from showing to closing. This list can include everyone from surveyors to lawyers to home inspectors. The better you understand what these professionals do, the better prepared you’ll be to help your clients. Today, we want to share an article that was first published by our partners at Inspection Depot about the differences in new and existing homes.

Inspecting Old vs. New Homes

Buying an older home can many times be somewhat less risky than a newer home, believe it or not! The reason is that older homes have stood the test of time. They have made it through the years and have been exposed to the elements and many times, extreme weather conditions.

This is not to say that older homes do not have issues or risks. Most times older homes are found with issues that relate to typical or deferred maintenance, however, other concerns include homeowner/non-standard repairs, or sudden system failures. In most cases, these are fixable, but at a price!

In all, it takes an experienced eye to identify building performance concerns on existing homes, particularly in cases where homeowners have conducted more recent remodeling or updates such as painting and decorating. These updates can limit inspectors, as some of the performance clues that inspectors look for during every inspection are now no longer visible or as visible.

Choosing Inspectors

The key to choosing inspectors therefore is not just their licensing, but paramount is their performance knowledge of building systems and components in relation to each home being inspected and their past inspection experience.

Buying a newly constructed home is different from buying an existing home, both from a perspective of logistical information needed from the builder and the knowledge and experience of the inspector involved.

Your choice of inspector for a newly built home is most important because not only are the experience and qualifications of your inspector essential, but having code knowledge and how it applies to the location you are buying in is also crucial.

Checking For Code Violations in the Inspection

A simple question to ask your inspector of choice is, “Do you review code violations in your inspection service?” Nine out of ten inspectors (until they read this article of course) will quickly remind you that they do not do a code inspection. We would then ask, “What are they going to inspect for you if they don’t include visible code issues!?”

Most inspectors offer cosmetic walkthroughs. You do not need to pay $300-$400 for an inspector to put tape on paint drips, check the door handles or operate the stove. These are all common sense inspection and quality issues that any homeowner can do on their own and/or with the builder’s superintendent. These inspection services are of little value to anyone. Your inspector needs to do what you do not and report what you cannot.

Inspections on New Construction

Unlike Sellers, builders have strict requirements for the inspector you choose and will simply not assume the risk of inspector accidents. In order for an inspector to enter on a builder’s site, they are required to confirm not only general liability insurance coverage, but also worker’s compensation insurance. Copies of the same showing the builder in question as a certificate holder on the insurance policy will be required.

This requirement eliminates most inspectors as they do not carry all required insurances!

To conclude, your choice of inspector between new, newer and older homes can only be made by researching and asking all the right questions. Every home is different and so too is the knowledge, experience and insurance coverages of every inspector. Choose YOUR inspector with confidence.

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