Courtesy of Clark Howard – clarkhoward
ATLANTA — Although all new homes built in Georgia must pass inspections by county or municipal officials before the proper permits are issued, homeowners could still discover costly problems before the deal is complete.
Meet Pat Schneider a Newton County resident Pat Schneider has learned things can go wrong with a brand new house.
We really learned a valuable lesson,” she said recently. Months after moving into her new home, a bathroom leak led to a much bigger discovery and a repair bill close to $2,000. “The inspector told me is they probably put a flange kit on and then somebody came in and cut it off,” said Jeff Butler, a home repair specialist. “Now the toilet won’t go back on the original screws. The pipes to this toilet (can be seen) on the outside of the house.”Newton inspectors approved the plumbing work and Schneider’s home passed all other inspections during the construction, according to county records. But like many new home buyers, Schneider did not hire her own inspector to check the work. She believed the county inspection process would protect her. “I feel like the county has a major responsibility in assuring the homeowner gets quality work and gets things passed the way they’re supposed to be passed,” Schneider said.Homebuyers who wouldn’t close on an older home without an inspection gamble on new construction largely because they believe the warranty or county inspectors will protect them and their investment. Such an assumption can lead to trouble. Gary Lewis, president of the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors, said private contractors can spend between three to six hours on a job whereas county inspectors, “Just don’t have the luxury of having that amount of time. “Many county building inspectors agree, saying the number of assigned cases on their itinerary means they can only spend minutes at a job site. For example, Cobb County inspectors currently perform between 10,000 and 13,000 inspections every month. On one of the inspector’s busiest days, the official might have to review the workmanship of 40 homes. A new house will be reviewed at least three times but government inspectors say homebuyers should realize how much goes on between inspections. “You’ve got 3,000 or 4,000 houses at a time (and it’s) impossible regardless of how many inspectors you have to be there during every aspect of construction,” said Lee McClead, a Cobb building inspector. Schneider said she is still asking her builder to correct problems that she believes were missed by the county inspector. Newton officials, however, say any ongoing issues should be covered by her warranty.
Clark Howard’s Advice
- When buying a new house, don’t rely on the warranty or a government agency. Homeowners should hire their own inspector.
- Customers should ensure they have at least three inspections.
- Don’t do business with a builder who won’t let the inspector make multiple visits to the site throughout construction.
- The builder may restrict who can inspect the new house so homeowners should agree to such a restriction before signing the contract.
Inspecting the Home Inspector
Georgia law makes no mention of a provision that sets out qualifications for private home inspectors, meaning they do not have to be trained, tested or licensed. So it is up to the homeowner who is considering hiring an inspector to make sure the professional has the proper credentials.
Meet Joe Smith
Homeowner Joe Smith decided it was worth the money to have his house inspected before his one-year warranty expired but he did not think it was necessary to hire an inspector as the home was being built. “You figure you’re getting a brand new home so why pay the extra money to have an inspector to come through,” he said. His nearly-new home gets good grades overall. But the inspection report includes a few items inspector Steve Goolsby thinks were missed by county inspectors, including shoddy caulking and missing flashing. “The exterior items we’re talking about . . . should have been caught by the county inspectors and they should have been able to address them with the builder,” he said. Homebuyers who spend a little more to hire their own inspector during construction can find that the money is a good investment. The findings can be used to force a builder to repair problems before final payment is made. Consumers who hire the wrong inspector can find that they have wasted their money.”The most important thing is to hire a code-certified inspector,” said Gary Lewis, president of the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors. Inspectors who are code certified, or CABO, have passed independent inspection test on building standards. Although inspectors who are members of the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors must be code certified to join the group, state law does not require the certification for those who work as inspectors. Said Goolsby: “If they’ve got a flashlight, they’re qualified to be a home inspector in the state of Georgia.”The homebuilder may require the certification, however. The Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association suggests that homeowners discuss it with the builder before construction begins. “It’s always important to make very clear with the builder what your expectations are for inspection before you get into a situation where you don’t feel like you’ve got the options you would like to have,” said Jeff Rader, a spokesman for the group.
Clark Howard’s Advice
Before hiring a home inspector, homebuyers should ask the professional a series of questions, including:
- Are they code certified?
- How many inspections of the home they plan to make as it is being built? The standard is three.
- How long does it take to perform an average inspection? Experts say even the smallest homes require several hours.
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Please know that in the State of Georgia, Home Inspectors are not licensed or regulated. How do you know what you are getting? You have got to ask questions. Check out our web site at: www.weinspect4u.com to find out some very valuable information on home inspections and why it is important to have one; whether you’re buying a resale, building new construction, having a maintenance inspection done or a pre-listing inspection. You are also welcome to call our office and talk to us about what we offer 770-645-2132. We look forward to working with you on your home buying and selling process. Beth