Your new house may be built by the best custom builder in Vienna and it may be your second or third house, but know that it is still important to include in your purchase contract the option to have a home inspector take a look at your new house a couple of weeks before going to closing.
It’s important. Really.
In an ideal world, you should have the home inspector show up at least twice; once at the pre-drywall meeting and then a week or so before closing.
With the typical new home in Vienna pricing out over $1.3 million, spending a thousand dollars for another set of eyes is money well spent. Yes, the Fairfax County inspectors will have stopped by but they are really busy and don’t have an hour or two to look at everything. To them it is just another house. Items like framing, wiring, HVAC, insulation, ventilation and plumbing are things that can best be seen pre-drywall.
Most new homes here are unique since the builders aren’t building track subdivisions. These are infill designs and, although the materials are standardized, the workmanship can vary because the builder who builds five homes a year will subcontract work out to framers and plumbers who may have different employees each time. And, with a new design each time, framers may be following new layouts that they are unfamiliar building.
Plumbing is the same way. Electrical too.
These jobs still require a skilled tradesman to perform and it is essential that they are done properly from the start. It’s also easier to add or move something before drywall makes it twice as complicated.
Plumbing and electrical work is still done by hand
For example, a recent client’s custom home has a heated floor in the master bath. For three months in the winter this feature will make mornings tolerable.
The system is easy to install when done at the start of your project because they are set below the tiles.
Your home inspector can certainly show you the thermostat, but ask if he or she has an infrared camera or one that shows thermal images. Using that, you will be able to see that all of the coils are working properly.
Kitchen appliances are items that most home buyers care about a lot especially when you have made custom choices for a month or two. Yes, there will be an owner’s manual but it is also important to have the inspector test appliances out. Honestly, I can’t even believe how many times they have turned on a garbage disposal to find a screw clanging around.
Appliances will have warranties but knowing that they are all working properly, draining properly or are hooked up to the right circuit or gas line is good piece of mind.
Their “quality” workmanship is actually low quality
What I am seeing is a wide range of levels of quality. Quality in finish work and in overall design… some builders really are producing higher quality homes than others here in Vienna.
Real estate investors are eager to piggy back on the success they see here, and are aggressively cold calling people like my neighbor who told me today that he had a call this afternoon. As a neighbor, I do get concerned because I don’t want a so-so house getting slapped up.
As a real estate agent, I like to show my clients poor quality for comparison purposes to make a point that this is comparison shopping. I prefer to educate my clients.
Your home inspector will be looking for poor workmanship so that it can be corrected before you sign the deed. So, I do recommend clients include the option for an inspection and then it is up to them to decide if it is worth the effort.