If you are looking in the St. Louis region for new construction, don’t skip hiring a building inspector to check out the home for you.

Many home buyers assume that since the builder had to pass the local municipal inspections that there is no added benefit for hiring their own building inspector. In fact, the home builder will often tell buyers that it is a waste of money to hire a building inspector for a new home.

I’ve represented many buyers purchasing new construction homes in St. Louis County and St. Charles County, and have NEVER had a building inspection on a new home that didn’t find some issues that the builder overlooked.

Typically the issues are minor and can easily be corrected. But, if you don’t know that something was done wrong and don’t ask the builder to fix it, they won’t!

Some of the problems a building inspector discovered for my buyers include:

  • Windows that have broken counterbalances and won’t stay open
  • Gutters that are sloped improperly so that they won’t drain well
  • A dishwasher that wasn’t hooked up correctly and dumped water on the kitchen floor the first time it was used
  • A garage floor that was sloped improperly so water didn’t drain out of the garage
  • Roofs with numerous holes in the shingles from the ‘walk boards’ used during the roof installation
  • Plumbing leaks and improperly installed S-traps
  • Vinyl siding that didn’t have the proper flashing where it joined the brick

In addition, the warranties for new homes don’t last forever. In St. Louis County and St. Charles County, most new home builders only provide a one year full warranty, plus an extended structural warranty for structural problems.

I have represented several buyers that purchased resale homes that were less than 1 year old, and we found problems on the building inspection that would have been discovered by the original homeowners if they had simply hired their own building inspector. If the house is still under warranty, the sellers sometimes are able to get the builder to correct the problems. But, if you buy a new construction home and need to sell 2 years later, any issues that are found will be your responsibility to fix.

A Punch List and a Building Inspection are Not the Same Thing

Prior to closing, most new home builders will ‘walk’ the house with the home buyer and their agent and will make a list of ‘punch list’ items that they agree to correct either prior to closing or shortly after closing. Shannon Sims put together a great article summarizing what a punch list is, and how it differs from a building inspection.

Building inspections in the St. Louis area are typically between $350-600. You could easily recoup the cost of your building inspection by getting the builder to fix just one item that is identified on your building inspection.

Knowing you need a building inspection when purchasing a new construction home is just one reason that you should always have a buyer’s agent representing you when you purchase new construction.

If you are considering purchasing a new home, make sure you contact a real estate agent that is experienced in representing buyers purchasing new construction homes BEFORE you start going to the subdivisions to check out the displays. Once you have registered in the sales office, many builders will refuse to allow you to use a buyer’s agent to represent your interests. If you don’t know a real estate agent that is experienced in new construction, contact me to discuss subdivisions that might be a match for your needs.