New homes are looking pretty attractive to buyers in Bend, Oregon right now. What makes new construction attractive is the competitive pricing compared to existing homes and, of course, the fact that everything is new. It is easy for buyers to think that “new” would mean there would be no problems with the house. Unfortunately, not all builders are created equal and some times there are problems, major or minor, that need to be addressed. The trick is to be able to identify those problems and bring them to the attention of the builder while the builder is still willing to fix them for free.
One recommendation we at Preferred Residential always make, even for new construction, is to get a professional inspection. A professional inspector should catch anything major but there are a lot of things, especially “finish work” that fall outside of the inspector’s realm. That’s where a buyer’s walk through becomes important.
Most builders will provide an opportunity for the buyer to inspect the home one last time before occupancy. This is called a “Final Walk Through.” Buyers should read the builder’s warranty closely and know what it covers and for how long because many builders view this walk through as the buyer’s last chance to raise concerns about workmanship in the new home. Some builders will cover workmanship for up to a year but if there are issues in the house, repairs will be much easier for the buyer to deal with before moving in.
Take your time. Don’t let the builder’s representative is standing next you make you feel uncomfortable or rushed. If you think you might feel rushed then bring another set of eyes with you. Your Realtor® and/or a friend who has experience in construction or has bought a new house recently would be great choices. Look at everything. Sit or stand in different places in each room and just look around. You might be surprised by what you see.
Damage to sheetrock. A lot happens in a house after the drywall is hung. Appliances, light fixtures, flooring, interior doors, cabinets, bathroom fixtures and trim are all installed after taping, texturing and painting. This creates many opportunities for interior walls to be damaged. We have seen dings in walls below the toilet, a line running the length of a hallway where it looked like someone had drug a ladder through wet plaster on the ceiling, unusually large blobs of plaster near the ceiling, and spots where the paint looked different because someone had spilled something on the wall before painting.
Floor coverings. Look at the transitions from one floor covering to another. Check to make sure flooring with lines in it, like tile and laminate, look square and the edges are finished or covered. Grout lines should be straight and all the tiles should be level so you don’t catch a toe on an edge. Carpet seams should be tough to see not painfully obvious like this one.
Doors and windows. Open and close each and every window and door in the house. Make sure they open and close correctly and when they are closed, exterior doors and windows should seal properly. There should be no draft or light coming into the house from around the edges of a window or door. We have a client who bought new construction and within 6 months noticed that he could see light through the MIDDLE of the door where the wood was separating. It is a beautiful door but now it is a little less beautiful because the builder put putty in the seam instead of replacing it.
Plumbing fixtures. It is not uncommon for a small leak to go unnoticed in a new home. Run water in everything that can be turned on then check the fresh water lines and drain lines for leaks by sliding a hand along the lines. If it comes up wet there is a problem.
Cleaning. One of the best things about a new house is that no one has ever lived there and it is all new and clean….usually. Construction creates a lot of dust and debris and construction workers are not known for their cleanliness. If the blinds are dusty or there are dirty hand prints on the wall or banister don’t be afraid to ask the builder to clean them.
These are all items that reflect on the builder’s craftsmanship and the builder should be more than willing to fix them. Just remember to take your time and be as thorough as possible.