A 'Walk-Through' Checklist for New Construction Homebuyers

It's finally time for the final walk-through inspection with the builder. What should you look out for? Read on for some useful tips.

You're in the home stretch, about to move into your new construction home, and it's finally time for the final walk-through inspection with the builder. What should you look out for?

Read on for some useful tips:


Home Exterior

  • Make sure that the ground around the foundation of the home slopes away from the house and that water does not pool or puddle around or near the foundation. Test this with a garden hose.
  • Use binoculars to inspect the roof from the ground or, if you're brave enough, climb a ladder (with a buddy's help) to take a closer look. Normally, with a well-built roof, the shingles should form straight lines across the entire surface. Shingles should be flat, tight together, and uniform in appearance. Flashings should be present and secure around venting. If you've got a tile roof, look for broken or cracked tiles. Make sure that downspouts will direct water away from the home.
  • Check windows and doors to make sure there's a tight seal and that weather stripping is present and secure. Look for cracks and inspect the trim.
  • Inspect the home's exterior and trim paint to see that the surfaces are smooth and uniformly covered.
  • Inspect the landscaping to make sure that it has been done to your specifications.

Home Interior

  • Inspect all doors and windows to make sure that they are well sealed; that they open, close, and lock properly; and that the glass is not loose or cracked.
  • Check all moldings and trim to make sure that they are secure and properly in place. 
  • Look at the painting in all rooms, closets, and stairways. Make sure that it is smooth, uniform and there are no bare spots.
  • Inspect the flooring to determine if the carpeted areas are stretched properly with matching seams, the tile floors are level with no gaps in the grout lines and that the wood floors are also level and properly finished to your specifications.
  • Check all appliances to make sure that they operate properly, are the proper model and color that you specified and that the surfaces are smooth and scratch/nick free.
  • Look over all faucets and plumbing fixtures (toilets and showers too) to assure that they work properly and that there are no cracks, scratches, or nicks in the surfaces.
  • Are the cabinets and counter tops installed to your specifications? Check them also for imperfections.
  • Inspect your electrical fixtures and test the outlets. A small appliance, like a hair dryer, is a good way to do this.
  • Test your A/C and water heater to make sure that they are operating properly.
  • Test other electrical systems like the intercom system, garage door opener and door bell.
  • Inspect the attic for dampness or leaks and to make sure that proper installation of insulation has been done. Also check the condition of support beams, heating ducts, etc.

Some final thoughts:

  • Obtain a copy of the "certificate of occupancy" proving that your home has been approved by the county and meets the state's building code standards and laws. 
  • Always choose to work with a real estate professional for your new construction home purchase. The builder pays for your right (the agent's commission!) to be represented by someone who is looking out for your best interests. If you're purchasing a new home directly through the builder, without a real estate agent, you're giving up this very valuable service, representation and professional guidance throughout the process. 
  • Consider hiring a home inspector to accompany you, and your agent, to your final new home inspection with the builder.  Another set of trained eyes on your home's basic systems and structural integrity might be worth the expense if defects are discovered upfront. An experienced home inspector is trained to notice details that you might not have noticed yourself until later on.

Buying a new construction home isn't a "slam dunk" transaction. Do your part to make sure that you're represented and protected sufficiently, and that your new home meets your expectations, specifications, and passes all state safety and legal requirements.

A little due dilligence on the front end will give you peace of mind on the back end, paving the way to many years of pleasure and comfort for your family's "home sweet new home!"


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