construction plans with a hammer and nails

When purchasing a property, many buyers will give new constructions priority over older buildings. Not only are new homes built to serve modern design and lifestyle tastes, but they circumvent the wear and tear that is commonly found in older constructions.

However, what some buyers do not know is that new constructions have pitfalls of their own. You won’t necessarily find pest infestation or gnarled hardwood in a new home, but that doesn’t mean builders haven’t made mistakes while putting the home together, or that some unavoidable problems won’t rear their head after the first heavy rainfall or harsh winter.

In order to ensure your new home is properly inspected before you sign the dotted line, here are the six most likely ailments from which the property may suffer.

Poorly Sealed and Leaking Basement:

Improperly sealed, and thus, wet basements can be a major headache to homeowners, so it’s important to have the basement inspected before a home is move-in ready. In addition to a thorough inspection of the outside lining of your homes basement and the basement itself, look at the home’s gutters, as basement leaks can often come from improper disposal of water from the roof. If gutters are sagging or cracked, insist on a prompt fix, and examine the gutter system’s drainage to make sure that water is dispelled far enough away from your home’s outside wall. 

While a thorough inspection of the basement and gutters can help to avoid problems, certain issues may only arise after multiple bouts of snow or heavy rain, so put a plan in place for a check up after one year in the home.

Drainage Problems:

The ground around a new home must also be properly graded in order to avoid water seepage into the basement. In some cases, hardscaping, like in a stone patio, is angled inward, causing rainwater to settle near the base of a home and giving water the opportunity to infiltrate the basement. Additionally, siding (made from wood, veneer, brick) must start a half a foot above the soil surrounding the house, and the soil should slope downward a few inches as you head away from the house. Finally, soil around the house should be inspected and refilled where necessary one year after the houses construction to avoid “moats” that hold water against the home’s outer walls. These moats are formed by the expected “settling” of a new home.

Shrinking Wood:

Another factor of a new home’s lifecycle is that the wood from which a home is built actually changes sizes. Usually at some point during the first year of a home’s life, the wood that supports its floors and walls will shrink slightly. As a home’s lumber moves through its first seasonal cycle, it sheds much of its moisture content, causing it to lose some girth too. Even if the wood barely shrinks, it can cause somewhat serious issues in your new home.

One likely outcome is shrinkage cracks. As foundational wood shrinks and the concrete on the perimeter of a home stays the same, the home will settle inward at a downward angle, toward the center. This adjustment will affect how a home’s drywall sits in place, and often cause diagonal cracks at the corners of drywall sheets.

Your home may also suffer from nail pops. Where drywall and wooden studs are connected by nails, the shrinking of wood may push or pull nails out of their original place. This shift in a nail’s position can cause ugly depressions and bumps in smooth drywall.

Luckily, builders are well aware of these issues, and often instate 1 year warranties to protect the best interest of a buyer. Nevertheless, make sure to discuss a plan for handling the effects of shrinking wood before its too late.

Electrical Issues:

During home construction, many electrical elements are left incompletely installed to protect the builders or simply execute the property’s structural assembly. However, it’s relatively common for one or more electrical projects to be left incomplete, which can result in an unsafe dwelling for new residents.

When organizing an inspection, make sure an electrical inspection is clearly included so that hazards can be avoided.

Condensation:

Condensation can arise from improper sealing of windows around your home. If windows fog during shifting internal or external temperatures, inspect the weatherproofing of the windows, and caulk cracked or damaged seals if necessary. If this doesn’t fix the condensation problem, clogged vent holes between windowpanes may be the cause. Use a needle or pipe-cleaner to clear grime or cobwebs out of these holes for optimal moisture regulation between the outside and inside pane.

Bad Roof Shingles:

Even brand new roofs can contain flaws. One of the most common ways that a roof can be defective is if the shingles are poorly nailed into place. Over-driven and under-driven nails can hurt the lifespan and insulation of a roof, preventing shingles from settling properly into place. Over-driven nails crack through the shingle, sitting millimeters beneath the shingle’s surface and creating visible craters. Under-driven nails allow the shingle to bubble up and rise a little higher than its neighbors. leaving room for the elements to enter.

General Lapses

On top of these six, specific issues, it is important to have a thorough inspection to check for simple mishaps in the building process. From missing nails to leveling issues with counters and cabinets, a good inspection can secure you from future woe by locating issues before a home is purchased, or before a warranty is out. Simple mistakes from the build are more common than you might like to think!

All in all, there are likely to be some problems with any new construction. The key is to get a good inspection, locate issues early, and craft all necessary home maintenance into your builder’s warranty while the offer is still on the table.