Many buyers think that because a home is new construction that they do not need to get it inspected. After all, the city or county should have inspected it, right? This could be the farthest from the truth. Many times the city inspectors never visit the property, as an engineer or architect is allowed to sign off on the work. The following is a quick case study of a recent new home inspection in Miami. The home was permitted in 2014 and we inspected it before it was given its certificate of occupancy for the perspective buyer.
There were safety issues with the pool. The gates did not meet the code for safety. A chain link fence had been installed with the links larger than code allows, which could allow a child to climb the fence. The latch was not the required height of 54 inches and the gate was not-self closing.
The upstairs bathrooms had multiple issues. There was a bench in the master bathroom. Both the bench and the window sill were sloped in the wrong direction. Instead of water running off these slopes, the water collected near the wall and window. Also the shower handles were not sealed to the wall, which can allow water to back down into the wall. and the enclosure glass was not sealed at the wall or threshold, allowing water to seep onto the floor.
There were five bathrooms in the home. One of the upstairs bedroom bathrooms had improper clearance for the toilet. The code requires 15 inches on center on each side of the bowl. This unit had 13 inches. Once again this is a code requirement of the Florida Building Code.
The downstairs bathroom had a bottle trap under the sink, which is not allowed under the Florida Building Code. All other traps were compliant.
Electrically, there was a junction box between the exterior wall and the pool equipment. There was no work clearance around this unit and no way to remove the cover plate. Inside, there was not AFCI protection in three of the bedrooms. Arc fault protection is required under the National Code to be in every bedroom. The bedroom requirement has been in effect since 2003.
One of the biggest issues we are currently researching is the windows. We are in the process of obtaining the building documents to verify if the windows are properly installed. There is a question as to whether or not they were installed backwards. More to come on that. But if they have to be removed and re-installed, it will be expensive for the builder.
This list is just a few of the items on this house. After more research I will make another post. On a house like this research is the key. When you buy a new home you have a choice. You can hire a home inspector to do the basics, but the items listed here probably would not be mentioned. Most inspectors follow their standard SOP (standard of practice) for residential structures and will tell you they are not code inspectors. They will charge anywhere from $400 to $800 (and up) for this inspection and just check to make sure the component of the house function. They will usually spend two to three hours at the house and have a report the next day.
An inspection, such as the one done on this house, requires anywhere from one to two days on site, a trip to the building department to obtain the building documents, further research on items to determine if they were properly installed. This can include obtaining manufacturer instructions and comparing them to the installation practice. This can take anywhere from one to five days, or maybe more. And then the report needs to be written, with the proper code citations. These inspections can cost up to six times the cost of a “home inspection”, but are well worth the time to know what you are buying. No house will ever be perfect. The important thing is that your inspector find the major flaws – ones that may not show problems right away, but will show up 5-10 years down the road due to improper installation practices.
Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513