What is a Warranty Inspection?
Many people are opting to build a new home, rather than try to fight through the hordes of people battling over the handful of existing homes available on the market. A new home has a lot of advantages: energy efficient, built to modern standards (hopefully), and, if it was built on top of an ancient burial ground, that should be easy to tell before any hauntings happen. However, even though the home is brand-new, that doesn't mean it is perfect. Ideally, you will have already had a pre-drywall inspection and a final walkthrough inspection to ensure that your investment is up to the appropriate standards (spoiler alert: they often are not). But now, almost a year has passed since you closed on your dream home, and you're starting to notice some wear and tear. This is where Warranty Inspections come in. Most builders will give you a one year warranty on the majority of things in the home, plus other warranties on structural issues. A Warranty Inspection functions a lot like any other inspection. Your eminently qualified inspector (i.e., me) will go through the entire home, just as if you are about to buy it all over again. The inspector will note every deficiency, document them in a thorough report, and present that to you at the end. You also have the opportunity to point out any areas of concern that you might have. This gives you a handy list to bring to your builders before your warranty period ends. What kinds of things might a warranty inspection uncover? All kinds! Below are just a few issues that I have found during Warranty Inspections:
Damaged or improperly installed shingles One of the most common issues that I see among certain builders is that they are not very careful with their quality control when putting up siding. I often see lower roof surfaces destroyed by the ladders of the siding and trim guys, who just weren't being as careful as they should have. Another builder I have dealt with frequently seems to struggle with getting the roof put together properly, so that within a year there are all kinds of raised shingles, warped sheathing, and so on.
Forgotten vent pipe caps This one is super common. Sometimes, after plumbing is completed, the builders will forget to send someone up on the roof to remove the caps for the plumbing vents. This can't usually be seen from the ground, but it can block your vents and create issues with your drains. Worst case scenario, it can allow sewer gases to enter the home. So... gross.
Missed or bad paint on the exterior Some builders aren't quite as thorough with the trim paint as they should be. You will often see fasteners like nail heads exposed, which can allow water into the siding.
Disconnected downspouts and other settling issues As the soil around your home settles, it can pull down your rain drains, which will disconnect your downspouts. Water leaking around them can result in foundation damage and water intrusion into the basement. If sidewalks, driveways, or basement or garage floors were not installed correctly, you may get significant settlement in those, as well.
Cracked foundation Yes, this happens a lot. Many new homes use poured concrete foundations, instead of block. I like this foundation type much more, but it also cracks as it dries. Sometimes, those cracks get a little too big and water can get through. You do not want to have to pay to have those sealed properly yourself. Better to have an inspector find that and get it covered by your warranty.
Failed breakers Newer breakers in your electric panel are supposed to be safer. But they also have a tendency to break down. I have found plenty that had already failed with less than a year of use.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Identifying these issues during your warranty period will help you avoid having to spend more money down the road. A final note: some builders are not as quick to respond to problems as they ought to be. I have personally dealt with builders who dismissed my clients' concerns, using their experience as a way of ignoring the complaints my clients had. Builders find it a lot more difficult to dismiss the concerns of a state-licensed inspector with official documentation. It isn't fair to you, but that is the way things often are.