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Your New Construction Home Inspection: An Interview with Timothy Mines of AMT Home Inspections, LLC

By Timothy Mines

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

AMT Home Inspections is a small family-owned business that offers mainly residential, multi-family and some commercial inspections. Our goal is to identify major and minor deficiencies in a home to give buyers a clear understanding of a home's condition. We also identify any potential safety hazards. We inspect everything from the foundation to the rooftop.

What is different about a home inspection for a new construction property?

A home inspection done on a new home is conducted the same way as it would a home that's 50+ years old. The systems will be different and the materials used will tend to be different. So understanding the difference in materials used on older homes versus materials used in newer homes is very important. For instance, older homes tend to have plaster walls and ceilings and the newer homes will typically have sheetrock. It's good to know and understand how these two materials differ. For example, a small drip from a pipe or roof leak on plaster is not going to show up quickly. It may take many months before a homeowner is able to see any sign of a leak. However, if it's sheetrock, that same leak could show itself within 5 minutes, because sheetrock will absorb the water quickly.

Although home inspectors are not code inspectors, another difference would be that construction codes were very different 50 years ago from those of today. So homes were constructed a little different than it is today. Understanding that is important because some things that wouldn't pass in a city inspection would be grandfathered, so it wouldn't be considered wrong or something that needed to be brought up to today's standard, unless it presented a safety hazard.

When should new construction inspections be done?

Ideally, a home inspection should be done as the home is being built. This typically requires 10 or more inspections, which allows an inspector to completely see each phase of work as the home is being built. This is important because there are several things that can go wrong during construction. In most cases, these things can be difficult to repair later, but easily corrected during construction.

If already built, then the new home would be inspected before purchase to identify any type of deficiency. Just because it's new, doesn't mean it is without issues.

What are some of the most common defects or problems you've found in new construction homes in the Los Angeles area?

I wouldn't say that one is more common than the other. Some examples of deficiencies are disconnected HVAC supply lines in the attic or crawlspace/basement, bathroom vents terminating in the attic and not to the outside, hot water and cold water lines reversed at the sinks, hot water tank improperly vented, GFCI outlets that don't trip when tested, roof leaks, leaking windows, foundation cracks, etc. This list could go on for days. Just because it's new, doesn't mean it is without an issue.

What happens if last-minute items haven't been fixed/completed during the inspection?

Sometimes items can be inadvertently missed from the "punch list" when wrapping up a home construction project. In most cases these things will be caught in a home inspection. The buyer would take the list of items or home inspectors report to their builder or realtor and discuss having these items completed prior to move in. This saves them the inconvenience of having to take off work and be home to let a contractor in to make the necessary repairs. Or worst, after move in, you have no warranty or recourse to get the work done and you have to pay for the repairs yourself.

What advice would you give to people in Southern California getting a new construction home inspected?

Home inspectors in California are not regulated by the state. Therefore, anybody can say or attempt to do a home inspection. To protect yourself, make sure that your home inspector has some type of nationally accepted Home Inspection Certification, i.e., NACHI, NAHI, ASHI. Also, ask a lot of questions about what's covered in the inspection. Ask question about the inspectors background. Find out if they have construction knowledge. How long have they been doing inspections? Ask questions!

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

Give us a call at 323-596-7201 or email us at tmines@amthomeinspections.com.

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