Building a new home: Expectations vs Reality, and why you should consider an independent home construction inspection
There’s a special kind of excitement associated with building your own home. However, while you’re likely to be entering the process with high hopes and a sense of optimism, it’s important to be aware of the potential pitfalls, and ensure you adequately protect yourself against liability for defects or other issues that may result from your builder’s work.
It’s an unfortunate reality that standards can vary greatly from builder to builder, and lots can go wrong during the complex construction process. At every stage there is potential for gaps to emerge between owner expectations and the reality of what their builder delivers. But without first-hand construction knowledge, how can an owner be confident the quality of their build is up to an acceptable standard?
An independent new construction inspection will see an external expert methodically survey a property at various stages of the build, looking for instances of non-compliance or substandard workmanship, as well as incomplete works and potential safety hazards.
The goal of an independent house construction inspection is to offer the owner peace-of-mind throughout the construction process, by holding the builder and their team accountable, and supporting the effective resolution of any concerns or disputes.
Below are some examples of unexpected scenarios that may arise during the construction of a new home, and the ways an independent new home inspection can help avoid or resolve the various issues involved.
Non-compliance with construction regulations
While it’s tempting to assume any reputable builder will naturally operate in accordance with the relevant Australian standards, codes and regulations, this is not always the case. An independent new home inspection will ensure your builder’s work meets all standards, and confirm your builder has all the necessary accreditations, licences and insurances.
By organising your own building inspection, you can be confident at least one expert involved in the construction of your new home is working solely on your behalf to ensure the integrity of the build.
Your expert building inspector will be deployed onsite at a number of crucial points throughout the project’s timeline. For example, once the wall and roof frames have been constructed it’s a wise move to assess the overall quality of the frame prior to plaster being applied.
Detailed reports will be developed following each inspection, outlining the problems identified, and providing advice on how best to resolve them. If an inspection finds a builder has failed to fulfil their contractual obligations, they will be obliged to rectify the situation within a reasonable period of time to avoid further action being taken against them.
The construction of any new home involves number of often complex steps, with various contractors coming and going throughout the build process. The value of having checks performed by an independent expert with widespread understanding of the entire process can therefore not be overstated.
Your inspector will look for compliance and an acceptable level of quality across all aspects of the build, including brickwork, carpentry, paint, plaster, waterproofing, insulation and more.
Sometimes problems between an owner and their builder can simply be attributed to poor communication. Being able to call on an independent party who knows what they’re talking about to join discussions with your builder can therefore prove invaluable when working to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Time and cost overruns
Significant delays and cost overruns are sadly all too common in the world of new home construction. Regular checks at project milestones can hold the builder accountable when it comes to additional costs, keep everything moving at a satisfactory pace, and ensure any issue causing a delay is dealt with swiftly and effectively.
Faults that may be overlooked or deemed insignificant by some during construction can wreak havoc on a property in years to come. Bowed slabs and floors, shoddy brickwork and leaning walls might not be of huge concern right now, but can create significant and expensive problems down the track.
An experienced pair of eyes is needed to walk through a property and not only spot existing problems, but also issues with the potential to cause major defects in the future. Often these types of issues are not easily attributable to the builder once a significant amount of time has passed, meaning without the input of an independent inspector, you could find yourself liable for the cost of avoidable and expensive future repairs.
Withholding the final stage payment
Owners can understandably feel reluctant to make the final stage payment to their builder, if they are not confident any issues identified through earlier inspections have been suitably resolved. Withholding payment, however, can lead to additional or escalated disputes between owner and builder, potentially causing significant delays.
The findings of inspections undertaken following each stage of construction can support a decision by the owner to withhold payment, and may be enough to convince a builder to take responsibility for resolving the issue.
Resolving disputes through conciliation
When it comes to owner/builder disputes, legal action should always be a last resort. An independent building inspection report can assist an owner in making a claim against the builder via Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBRV). Through a process of conciliation this government body will endeavor to bring about an agreement between parties without the need to go to the Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Sadly, in some cases problems between owner and builder cannot be resolved through discussion or conciliation, causing one party to take legal action against the other. Building consultants should have the appropriate qualifications and experience to prepare expert reports for VCAT or court, and can give evidence at a hearing, if required.
Hiring a home inspector for new construction projects is essential for owners looking for extra confidence in the quality of the build. Fundamentally, being able to fall back on sound and reliable information relating to the state of a new home and the quality of the build at various stages of construction, places the owner in a stronger position to seek the best outcome if and when a problem arises.