10 Things to Check Before You Buy a Builder House

by Don Vandervort, HomeTips.com

When buying a brand new builder house, potential buyers often think they can dispense with the need for a house inspector. If it�s new, it must be in good shape, right?

Not always true.

New homes can be just as problematic as old ones. In fact, because they haven�t been tested by years of use and abuse, they can be filled with problems, especially if the builder used any shoddy practices. Hiring a qualified house inspector before you buy is a major hedge against very expensive surprises.

Then again, a house inspector can be very costly�from several hundred to a thousand dollars or more. If you ultimately end up buying the house, this is money well spent. On the other hand, if the house has serious drawbacks, you�re better off saving the cost of the inspector and moving on to a better prospect.

Here are ten clues for determining a house's overall quality before you commit to the cost of hiring a house inspector:

  1. The structure. From a reasonably distant vantage point, look at the house. Do the walls appear to be plumb and flat? From inside, are any walls bowed or not square at corners? When you jump in the middle of the living room floor, does it flex or feel solid?

  2. Water control. Does the ground slope away from the base of the house? Will gutters, downspouts and drainage pipes carry excess water away from the house...or into the basement? Is there any evidence of water damage?

  3. The roof. Is the roof new and in good shape? Does it look neat and properly applied?

  4. Details. Do you see signs of quality workmanship in the finish details such as moldings, tile work, hardware and paint?

  5. Kitchen & bath fixtures. Are sinks, toilets and tubs quality fixtures? Do they work properly? Is the water pressure good when you turn on the faucets and flush the toilet?

  6. Electrical system. Are the number and locations of receptacles adequate to the needs of the house? Is the main circuit breaker marked at least "100 amps"?

  7. Water heater, plumbing. Is the water heater gas or electric (gas is much more efficient)? Water supply pipes from the water heater to fixtures should be copper.

  8. Heating. Where is the furnace or heater located and what type is it? Are any rooms not heated? Do registers look adequate for heating the spaces? Is the house air-conditioned?

  9. Insulation. Look in the attic for insulation; R-19 (6 inches of fiberglass, for example) is a minimum in moderate climates; up to R-38 (12 inches of fiberglass) is required in cold climates. Remove a receptacle cover on perimeter wall to check for wall insulation.

  10. Fireplaces. Do they have screens or glass doors (doors are more efficient). What about dampers and log lighters? Is there a combustion vent that draws air from outside and a spark arrestor at the top of the chimney?

For more about home buying, including how to find a qualified home inspector, visit HomeTips.com.

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