Blake Williams, President of Super Inspector, operating in Dallas Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, discusses the importance of using a Third Party Inspector when purchasing a Newly Constructed House. Super Inspector completes a fair amount of inspections on newly constructed houses. In many cases, the builders are not very cooperative with us or with the client who would like to utilize our services. Builders often tell clients our services are not needed and are of little value. They rely on the local building inspector and some have contracted with inspection companies to provide third party inspections for them. This, in their mind, negates the need for a client to hire their own third party inspector.
There are several problems with that thinking. First, the local building inspector, AKA the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), is often very busy and does not spend and extended period of time at the house. Second, the AHJ inspects based on local building codes only. Third, the builder’s third party inspector is hired and paid by the builder. His fiduciary responsibilities are to the builder only. The buyer will never see the report from the builder’s third party inspectors. This is why it is important for a buyer to hire their own third party inspector as a knowledgeable set of eyes to review the property and report to the buyer. Additionally, if the fact that an AHJ and a builder’s third party inspector negated the need for a buyer to hire a third party inspector, which it does not, then we would not have reports filled with both code violations and other deficiencies in our New Construction reports, which we do.
So what do you do when a builder says you cannot hire a third party inspector? You can either comply or use your walk away power and find another builder. This should be agreed upon at the beginning of the process. You should be very clear that you will be hiring your own inspector. If at that time the builder says they do no allow a buyer’s inspector to be involved, you can easily find another builder who does allow. In some cases, the builder may require the third party inspector to carry certain insurance as a requirement to come on the property. Check with your inspector ahead of time to verify what insurances they carry.
Once you have the completed inspection report, it is customary to provide it to the builder who will then work to correct any deficiencies noted on the report. In some cases, the report may have items listed that go above what the local building codes require. In these cases, you are not likely to persuade the builder to make the improvements suggested. These will be up to the client to complete after closing, with the help of a professional contractor. The client may be able to persuade the builder to make recommended improvements by paying additional fees.
If there are items listed on the report that are deemed to be code violations, a common response from the builder might be, “This has already passed inspection by the AHJ, and is therefore built to code.” In this case the client will need to take the report to the local building department at City Hall, usually, and ask to speak to a code enforcement officer, AHJ. If the AHJ agrees with the report, they have the authority to compel the builder to make the necessary changes.
It is common for an inspector to note several code violations. The reason being, is the AHJ does not always enforce the entirety of the building code. This is a result of time constraints most of the time. Builders may have not been required to conform to parts of the code that have not been enforced. Many times we find that a builder believes he is building to code, when in fact he is not for the aforementioned reasons.
In summary, we believe it to be extremely important that a buyer utilize the services of a third party inspector when purchasing a Newly Constructed house. We have hundreds of reports filled with deficiencies and code violations in Newly constructed houses to support this recommendation. If you would like more information see our sample reports on our website, www.yoursuperinspector.com.