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Building A Home

Advice From A Professional Engineering Firm That Specializes In Pre-Purchase Home Inspections

An Exciting But Stressful Process
Having a home constructed is an exciting but stressful process, there are so many choices to be made during the planning and construction process. Whether your home will be a custom built home, a tract/development home, a condominium, or whether your new home will be a stick built or modular design, retaining the services of a Licensed Professional Engineer who specializes in home inspections can relieve the home buyer of a lot of stress.

The home inspection engineer is familiar with pitfalls that can be avoided in the early stages of construction, it makes good sense not to try to reinvent the wheel when the engineer has been down the same path many times before. The home inspection engineer may know some things that the builder may not be aware of because the builder sees the home when it is built when everything looks fine, the home inspector engineer sees the results of the construction many years down the road.

Some construction materials and components that are being used these days may be an economical choice to the builder to help increase profits; however, the downside to the home buyer is a shorter service life with increased maintenance expenditures. Speak to your home inspection engineer regarding these construction issues.

Home Plan Review
First, it is advisable to have your home inspection engineer review the plans and specifications for the home to look for obvious problems such as water supply pipes located in exterior walls in areas of the country where freezing temperatures are encountered; these pipes are subject to freezing and bursting.

Review of the specifications prior to signing a contract enables the home buyer to receive valuable advice from the engineer regarding components that would best be replaced with better quality components (even if the buyer would have to pay for the upgrade). For example, cast iron heating system boilers are longer lasting than steel boilers.

Inspections At Various Stages
Having your home inspection engineer inspect the home at the various stages of construction is advisable. First, it is a good idea to have the engineer visit the site before the construction begins. A visit to the site when the foundation walls and footings are constructed is next in order. Subsequently, the engineer should return to the site when the structural framing is complete to be sure that there are no structural problems or areas that need reinforcement The next visit should be planned when the rough electrical, heating, and air-conditioning is installed and prior to the installation of the finished walls. At this time, the engineer can look for any defects or omissions that will not be visible once the finished walls are constructed.

A final inspection should be scheduled when the house is complete; the engineer can then test all electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems for proper installation and function, and inspect all physical components for proper installation.

Licensed Professional Engineer
Retaining the services of a Licensed Professional Engineer home inspector is a well worthwhile investment that can not only help you through the construction process, but the advice you receive can help you avoid pitfalls that might otherwise surface years down the road. Licensed Professional Engineers have the education, experience and license to design homes and buildings and thus the good sense of choosing a person with these credentials (rather than inspectors without these credentials) to protect you during the construction of your new home.

A Word Of Caution
Buyers of new homes under construction are cautioned to be sure to have a written agreement with the builder that permits the buyer’s engineer to inspect the home during the various stages of construction. Some builders, especially those constructing tract/development homes will permit access to the home only after the construction is 100% complete; at this time, if there are hidden defects, it is too late.

Incredibly, we have had experiences where even the home buyer has been denied access to the home until it has been completed. We have had experiences where only the engineer was given access to the home during the stages of construction but the home buyer has been denied access. Where necessary, we have signed a builder’s legal document holding the builder harmless for harm that may occur to the engineer during the inspection of the home during construction. On occasion, we have been requested to wear a hard hat during our inspection. The message here is to be sure that you have a signed access during construction agreement with the builder.

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