A new construction home inspection, or PDI (Pre-delivery inspection), typically takes place prior to the handover meeting between the home buyer and contractor when the house is considered to be ready for occupancy. Performing a home inspection at this phase can provide clients, as well as, contractors, with valuable recommendations to address deficiencies that may have been overlooked during the building phase. Contractors are under immense pressure to deliver their product on time. Money and reputation are often damaged when delays in the project exceed acceptable limits of client expectations and patience. Under these conditions it's easy to see how things get missed. A professional home inspection gives the client access to a "fresh pair of eyes". Find out what's wrong and have it fixed BEFORE closing. It's much easier, and significantly less irritating to address potential issues in advance.
But it's new. The city inspected it. What could possibly go wrong ?
A municipal code inspection is designed to be a quick walk-through to verify the contractors are not cutting corners. These inspections are also system specific. The municipal inspectors role here is to verify code compliance only. They do not cover the home as a complete system. Home inspectors examine the performance of the home in it's entirety.
Issues in the Attic
Upon inspection of this attic it was revealed that some of the roof structure had been modified. Specifically, two of the rafters had been cut to accommodate what looks to be change in plan. Roof structure should never be modified. Further investigation was called for in this case.
When vertical drain pipes discharge into a horizontal drain, best practice is to make these connections with a 45 degree branch, not a 90 as depicted in the photograph. The 45 degree branch enables a smoother transition of waste water into the horizontal drain. In it's current condition, poor drain performance, as well as, potential clogs in this area could be reasonably implied.
The exterior cladding material used at the rake of this eave overhang had not been properly cut to fit the dimensions of this opening. To fill the gap, the installer opted to patch the 2 inch gap with silicone. Silicone and other caulking materials are not suitable for this type of installation. They should never be relied upon as a replacement for good flashing details.
The whole in the supply plenum of this high efficiency furnace was presumably installed as an access port for viewing the furnace heat exchanger and air conditioning coil. Someone forgot to cover it.
Fallen Attic Baffle
How many general contractors take their clients into the attic during the PDI ? Although not a terribly serious issue, the collapsed baffle in this picture would result in poor air flow through the soffit and roof ventilation system in this area. If warm house air accumulates here during the heating season, localized ice damming may result.
This picture depicts an exhaust termination for a natural gas fireplace. Aside from the fact that it was installed upside down, everything looked good. After some investigation, it was revealed that the initial installation of the fireplace was to be a floor level install. Somewhere along the line someone thought it would look better installed off the floor. The only problem, of course, was that the ruff-in for the vent connector had been done in accordance with the original design. Instead of making the necessary modifications, this is what the installer came up with. Considering the potential for harmful exhaust gas to enter the house, this was considered totally unacceptable and reckless.
An all too common occurrence in new construction, settled backfill is the exact opposite of what we want to see when evaluating lot drainage performance. The negative grade condition depicted here is often the result of sloppy backfill practices and insufficient tamping or compaction. If left in it's current condition, surface water will be directed back toward the foundation in this area.
Backfilling around a newly poured foundation prior to the installation of the first floor can exert a massive force around the structure. Foundations are not designed to withstand this kind of lateral pressure. If the foundation is not sufficiently cured, deformation or bowing of the wall may result from this condition. Installing the flooring system prior to backfilling acts as a brace against the pressure exerted by the weight of the soil.
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