As any home builder will tell you, new homes at Mueller fall under the purview of the City of Austin’s building inspection schedule, and homes come with a variety of warranties. So should you spend $350 – $1100 on your own inspections? Here are a few different perspectives and platitudes that I have heard.
As a side note, I have a great deal of respect for 90% of the Mueller home builders and certainly all of the active builders. I have worked with builders in other subdivision who have more or less scruples and it is these builders who have trotted out the platitudes over the years.
Builder: Your home goes through so many inspections that getting your own inspector is frankly a waste of money. It is true that your home has to pass city inspections, green building inspections, builders’ quality control inspections and your own buyer walk-through inspections. Some builders even hire a third party inspection company to escort you around the home and introduce you to it and look for issues.
Inspector: In practice sometimes the City inspectors are over scheduled when construction is booming, and so they check basic safety items like emergency egress and they have less than 15 minutes per home. Inspectors that the builders provide are paid for by the builder and can’t possibly be impartial.
My experience: My current new home is having the kitchen cabinets raised five eighths of an inch to conform to City building codes, so someone is on their toes. I’ve seen all sorts of things fall through the cracks – from a bedroom with drywall completely covering the HVAC ducts to missing safety glass to a HVAC power cutoff that could not be operated once the HVAC unit was in place.
Builder variation: Your home is under warranty so many home owners decide to wait until their first / second year anniversary before having a third party inspection.
Inspector: I recommend getting an inspection before closing, and at the anniversary.
My experience: Some of the things inspectors have found mean that repair is more convenient when you don’t live in the home – for example a bowed floor which necessitated removal and replacement of wood flooring and drywall in the ceiling of the floor below to remedy. Sure it might be covered and happily taken care of after closing, but that’s a lot of inconvenience and mess, and not something I want when I buy a new home.
Builder: Most inspectors have never built homes and just trot out a list of small items to justify their fee.
My experience: I work with some inspectors who have either been doing this for years (you can tell by how low their TREC license number is), have built homes, or teach TREC licensing courses to other inspectors and have more letters after their names than I care to remember. Certainly, if an inspector doesn’t find much wrong with your home, you might not feel that you would be receiving good value. On the other hand, I would also be encouraged that someone had verified that things were as they should be. And I’ve even had an inspector refund part of their inspection fee as they said that one house here in Mueller was so well framed (this was a phase inspection, not a final inspection) that they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.
Buyer: Having a third party inspection is a show of mistrust for the builder and may jeopardize our working relationship.
My experience: I know builders’ sales agents who build a new home with their builder-employer and use a third party inspector. It’s not a show of mistrust in my opinion, it’s just a way of saying, “I’m a buyer, and I’m not a home builder, and I want an experienced professional on my team”.
How many inspections did I have on my old house at Mueller? I had two – one final inspection, and one inspection in time for warranty.
How many inspections will I have on my new house at Mueller? Three – one frame inspection, one final inspection and one warranty inspection. That will probably total $1100 in inspection costs for me, and it’s well worth it for peace of mind. Everything I can get the builder to fix before I move in is worth a great deal to me, and I come from a software background where “test early, test often” is a maxim I used to live by.