New Home Inspections
Why should I have a new home inspected? This question is asked often but not often enough. One thing I have learned over the years is there are no perfect houses. No matter who your builder is or how many "City" inspections it has had, some things were missed that will be important to a new home buyer.
Even your own third party inspector is likely to miss something for the same reason there are no perfect houses – They are built (and inspected) by humans. So, the more inspections you have done the less likely you are to discover some problem later.
I recently inspected a new home in Galveston County and found several things of interest to the buyer. My inspection was a "final" inspection which means the house is basically finished, the code authority has issued an occupancy permit and the builder wants the buyer to sign the final papers. In a case like this an inspector cannot see the wall framing, the electrical wiring, plumbing systems, etc., because they are covered by the interior and exterior finishes of the home.
Still, there is a lot that can be seen and always something to report. The house I am referring to had some roof issues. (See photo above.) There were several places visible from the ground where the roof had some deflection and or sagging and many of the shingles were not lying down flat and not adhered to the shingles below.
There are two issues here, a framing issue of some kind causing the visible deflection in the roof decking, and the shingles that were not properly installed. There are several things that could have caused the roof deflection including, rafters installed “crown down” instead of “crown up” or improper spacing of the decking material just to name a couple. These probably would not cause any immediate structural issues.
The greater problem is with the shingles. The framing issues could be contributing to the roof covering problem and could shorten the life span of the shingles. Of more immediate concern are loose shingles which could allow wind uplift to damage the shingles and or cause roof leaks. Remember we are in Galveston County Texas, a coastal county and definitely a high wind area.
How could this happen to a newly constructed home? I’ll try to answer that. In coastal counties of Texas windstorm insurance is only available through an insurance department pool called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association or TWIA. TWIA requires that all new construction including roof coverings meet certain engineering and code standards to withstand the wind loads expected in these areas. To be sure this is done, TWIA requires that a professional engineer provide certification that everything was done properly. Once that document is issued, that is it for roof inspections. The code authorities in many areas do not look any further.
In the case I am referring to, all of the best efforts of state law, engineers and code officials missed a very obvious deficiency. There were a few other more minor deficiencies but I won’t address them now. The thing to ask yourself is who paid for your inspections. If you did not pay for them, the inspector was not working for you and not looking out for your best interest. Yes, new home inspections are important.
Posted: Dec 27, 2011
Posted by: Ed Fryday, ACI, CMI® | TREC License: #6932
Space City Inspections, LLC