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Reuben Saltzman

“You’re wasting your money on a home inspection, and we’re not going to fix anything.”

That’s what a local builder told one of my customers.  The home buyer hired me to inspect her new single family home before she finalized the purchase, and the builder apparently didn’t want to end up dealing with any hassles.  The builder’s rep told the buyer that having a new construction home inspection was a waste of money, and that even if I came up with any issues, it wouldn’t matter; the house had already been inspected by city, so they wouldn’t fix anything.

The home buyer said she felt like cancelling the entire purchase after hearing that, and I can’t say I blame her.  Who would want to buy a home from someone with an attitude like that?

Maybe the rep felt like he was being personally insulted when the buyer mentioned a home inspection, so he was getting defensive.  If that was the case, I say grow up.  This is just business.  Having an attitude like that will only turn buyers off, and make the builder look silly when the home inspector comes up with a list of installation defects.

It’s not supposed to be the home inspector against the builder; we’re both working for the home buyer, trying to make sure that any construction defects are addressed right away, before they turn in to a expensive problem.

My advice to builders

When builders use the old excuse of “the city already approved it” they end up looking like weasels.  Everyone knows that municipal building inspectors can’t possibly catch every little defect; no one can.   When a municipal inspector approves a permit, it means they didn’t find any defects; it doesn’t mean they’re putting their blessing on something that was done wrong.  When a builder tries to talk a home buyer out of having a home inspection done, it’s a huge red flag for the home buyer and the home inspector.

Builders should welcome a home inspection.  If the home buyer is nervous about the quality of construction, this is a perfect opportunity for the buyer’s fears to be assuaged.  If the home is truly well built, a good home inspector will say so.  While there may be a handful of overly zealous, hyper-critical home inspectors, most of us aren’t.  Most home inspectors appreciate neat work and best practices, and we love pointing this stuff out to clients.

Neat wiresWhen I inspect particularly neat wiring, I make a point of telling the buyer that the electrician probably took a lot of pride in their work.  

When I inspect a new home with insulation applied to the exterior of the foundation, I explain how this is a more expensive way of insulating the basement, but it’s also a superior way of doing it.

When I see a drain pan installed below a washing machine on the second floor, I tell my clients about how this isn’t required, but it’s a nice safety measure that the builder added.

A home inspection is a PR opportunity for the builder.  If the home inspector comes up with a list of construction defects, the builder has a golden opportunity to fix the issues with a smile.  This creates trust and goodwill with the buyer, which can lead to referrals.

When a builder welcomes a home inspection, they’re telling the home buyer that they’re confident in their work.    This concept seems obvious to me, but only the best builders seem to understand this.

Back to my original story.  I didn’t find a ton of defects at the new construction house I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.  It was all stuff that could probably be corrected in one day – a kitchen cabinet drawer that wouldn’t open because it was in a terrible location, a back-pitched plumbing vent, improper flashing above windows… stuff like that.  The buyer asked to builder to repair everything on my report, and wouldn’t you know it?  The builder was happy to fix everything.  I’m sure everyone will live happily ever after.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – Email– Minnesota Home Inspections