Building a new home? Everything you should know about your Final Home Inspection for new constructions …
As you are handed your keys by the builder of your new home on what is likely to be a pretty monumental occasion, you need to have confidence in the quality of the construction, particularly before you make your final payment.
There’s no need to take your builder’s word for the quality of their work. By engaging an independent consultant to undertake a Final Home Inspection for a new construction, you’ll not only enjoy the reassurance that comes with knowing everything has been completed to an acceptable standard, but also have the back-up of an official report filled with expert detail to support your case if a dispute arises.
The unfortunate fact is construction projects vary significantly in terms of their quality and the standard of work completed. Expert technical knowledge of the construction process is essential for identifying problems before (or even as) they arise, as well as potential costly problems that could eventuate months or even years down the line.
While this blog will focus primarily on the new home handover inspection that should take place at the very end of the process, a complete inspection typically comprises various checks at key milestones throughout the build.
For instance, inspections are often conducted once the wall and roof frames have been constructed, before the plastering stage commences, following the waterproofing of wet areas, and the list goes on.
By undertaking these regular inspections, your independent consultant can provide peace-of-mind that somebody who knows their stuff is on-hand to keep your builder honest, identify substandard workmanship, incomplete works and potential safety hazards. They will also work to ensure your builder demonstrates compliance with all relevant Victorian and Australian standards and building codes for new home construction.
The results of these building inspections help avoid common issues like bowed slabs, shoddy brickwork and leaning walls. Over and above simply identifying such defects, your inspector will make the necessary recommendations about the steps required to rectify them.
Essentially, the Final Home Inspection does exactly what it says on the tin! This is your last chance to protect yourself against any existing or future problems with your new home, and it takes place when the builder notifies you they have reached practical completion.
Also known as a Practical Completion Inspection (PCI) or pre-handover inspection, these are generally conducted once construction has been completed, internal fixtures, fittings and finishes have been installed, and the site has been cleaned ready for occupation.
A trusted independent building inspector will assess the overall quality of construction, checking that any previously reported defects have been adequately fixed, and identifying any new issues that may have arisen since the last inspection.
The Final Home Inspection report will provide the most up-to-date information relating to the nature and location of any defects (or not, as the case may be).
It’s far simpler and less stressful to have any issues addressed before you move into your new home. But without expert input, there’s a risk of major defects presenting in years to come. Unfortunately, these may not easily be attributed to the builder after the passing of time.
So what does this mean for the owner? Sadly, there is a real likelihood they will find themselves liable for the cost of the necessary repairs.
During the new construction final inspection your independent consultant will pay meticulous attention to detail as they systematically inspect your property for the following:
- Brickwork – No chipped, cracked or broken bricks. All bricks properly situated and aligned on the concrete slab, and mortared, sealed and rendered to prevent moisture from entering the house. No variation in brick colour, or mortar thickness and colour.
- Cladding – Fitted and fixed correctly, with no cracks, scratches or chips.
- Roofing – Correctly installed and positioned, with no broken or cracked tiles, no opportunity for leaks, and no entry points for birds or other wildlife. Checks are also made to ensure thermal insulation is properly installed.
- Plasterwork – Filled and smoothly sanded, without any obvious damage including ridges, tool marks or joints.
- Paintwork and sealants – All completed to a high standard, and applied in a way that will stand the test of time.
- Gutters, flashing, downpipes and drainage – All installed correctly, with no ponding water, clear of debris, with the necessary overflows, and easy access to drainage facilities.
- Doors – Correct dimensions and margins, hung straight and with no jamming or sticking issues, and all handles and locks operating well.
- Windows – Undamaged (i.e. no scratches, chips or cracks), properly installed and sealed, with no draft-causing gaps.
- Plumbing – Systems properly installed and waterproofed, with no leaks or potential for future leaks. The system must also be capable of delivering the desired water pressure wherever needed.
- Fixtures and fittings – Includes showers, baths, toilets, splash backs, tiling, kitchen benches, cabinetry and shelving. All properly installed, and with joinery completed to a high standard.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give an idea of the comprehensive nature of a Final Home Inspection.
It’s important to note that your inspector should be impartial and remain committed to reaching the fairest outcome for all parties involved, in the case of a dispute. Even with the best of intentions, problems can arise during any construction project, and this is where a professional report and the mediation skills of your inspector can support the effective resolution of any concerns or disputes.
It’s important to note your builder can only claim their final payment once all building works have been completed to a satisfactory standard and, if applicable, a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued. Where defects are still found to be present following a Final Home Inspection, the house cannot be classed as ‘completed’ and final handover should not take place.
As a building contract is legally binding, an independent inspection report can offer evidence of breach of contract if the builder attempts to hand over the property and request final payment before all defects have been satisfactorily resolved.
The Final Home Inspection is therefore an essential, minimum standard of quality assurance and protection. To avoid disappointment, manage conflict, time and cost overruns, and ensure compliance and quality standards are always met, an independent Final Home Inspection is the only way to go.