The average homeowner is not a builder, a contractor, or even a journeyman of any sort. As a result, most prospective buyers don’t have the faintest idea of what to look for when it comes to assessing the quality of a structure. But you don’t have to be an expert to see signs that a home does not possess the level of quality you prefer. And while you might expect new construction to be of the highest caliber, this simply may not be the case. So here are a few factors you’ll want to consider when it comes to judging the quality of any new construction you’re interested in.
- Check out other building projects. If you want to find out if a building contractor is on the up-and-up, a good place to start is by looking at past projects. Any time you’re interested in new construction, you can find tracts of homes that the builder erected in the past and take a look (supposing the homes you’re looking at aren’t their first project). You might not be able to tell much from the outside, but if you’re willing to knock on a few doors you can ask the residents what they think of the homes they own and whether or not they’ve had any problems since making their purchases. This can give you a fair notion of what to expect if you decide to buy into new construction projects conducted by the same builder.
- Nail pops. While exposed nail heads that haven’t been properly driven into interior surfaces are more of an annoyance and an eyesore than anything else, they could denote a certain lack of attention to detail that might make you wonder what kind of shenanigans are going on below the surface, so to speak. And if you see this glaring flaw inside the house, you might want to check the exterior. Nail pops on the roof could herald major problems like leakage and other issues down the line, especially if you live in a region with extreme weather conditions. Cosmetic issues can be merely superficial, but often they signal much more serious problems.
- Cheap materials. If you’re seeing laminate instead of solid wood, composite countertops instead of granite, and linoleum instead of tile, you should definitely anticipate a lower price tag. But you should also consider whether or not a builder that is willing to skimp on cosmetic surfaces would also cut corners when it comes to the stuff you don’t see.
- Finishing touches. The quickest way to ascertain whether or not a builder has been overly hasty in the construction process is to look at finishing touches. Do backsplashes have finished edges? Are there baseboards around the perimeter of every room? Does the fireplace have a mantle? Are windows boxed or bare? The devil is in the details, and a lack of concern for finishing touches should serve as a warning that the new construction home you’re considering might not offer the high level of quality you’re looking for.
- Hire a home inspector. Many builders tell prospective buyers that they needn’t necessarily hire a home inspector for new construction because a municipal inspector has already approved the project, but think about whose interests the builders are protecting (hint: their own). Unless you know something about roofing, plumbing and electrical systems, and heating and air conditioning installation, just for example, it’s in YOUR best interest to hire a home inspector to go over every inch of the house you intend to buy. Keep in mind that municipal inspectors only assess a structure to make sure it is up to code, which doesn’t’ necessarily denote quality construction. And overworked city building inspectors may even miss code violations. In short, hiring a home inspector of your own is an absolute necessity before you buy, even if the construction is brand new.