7 Common Red Flags in New Construction Homes

Purchasing a new construction home is often an exciting time filled with the anticipation of making a brand-new space your very own. There is something a little extra exciting about knowing you’ll be the first person to live in the space, however, as new construction home’s gain popularity, many buyers have regrets and wish they would have been more aware of common red flags within new construction homes

Red Flags to be Aware of in New Construction Homes

7 Common Red Flags in New Construction Homes1. Escalation Clauses in Contracts

An escalation clause can be a deal-breaker in new home contracts. This clause protects the builder against price increases for materials or labor by passing those costs onto you, potentially raising the agreed-upon price of your home by 10-20% at closing. Such terms unfairly shift the risk from the builder to the buyer. It's wise to challenge such clauses or consider other builders who don’t use these terms to help keep yourself from a surprise price jump right before closing.

2. Conflicting Plans and Documents

When you receive the floor plans and other pre-construction documents, study them meticulously. These documents should match what you see during site visits. Discrepancies between the plans and actual construction, no matter how minor, can lead to significant changes in the structure and design of your home. Always ensure that what you agreed on paper is what gets built. This can be major structural changes all the way to the color of exterior finishes as this can get you in trouble later with the HOA for not matching the builder’s submitted plans. 

3. Foundation Integrity

The foundation is a critical component of your new home’s longevity and safety. Be vigilant about inspecting it for cracks or other signs of poor construction, such as inadequate soil compaction under the foundation or problems with leveling the surface (yes it happens)! Even minor cracks can escalate into major expenses and safety issues later. If you notice any defects, regardless of how small, it’s vital to have a structural engineer evaluate the situation before proceeding.

4. Drainage and Water Management

Proper site grading and drainage are crucial to prevent water damage to your property. Observe how water pools or drains during a rainy day. Water pooling near or against your house is a significant red flag, indicating potential future water intrusion issues. Addressing these concerns early with your builder is essential to avoid costly repairs down the line in addition to potential mold growth.

5. Interior Wall Quality

After drywall installation, check for cracks, nail pops, or uneven walls, which could indicate underlying moisture issues or shoddy workmanship. Bringing a level to check wall flatness can help identify areas where the drywall does not meet standard practices, hinting at possible future complications. Another thing to look for is “rounded” corner seams, while visually appealing, oftentimes there isn’t the proper supports in place and these rounded corners will easily dent and beak.

6. Basement Moisture Levels

A damp or musty basement can be the harbinger of ongoing battles with mold and structural decay. It’s crucial to check for signs of moisture or water pooling in the basement once the house is roofed and sealed. This is especially important if your home is being built during a rainy season as water damage is near impossible to avoid by the builders. Ensure that home and materials were dried out properly.

7. Doors and Windows Functionality

Doors and windows that stick or do not close properly could point to issues with frame alignment or moisture affecting the wood. These problems might seem minor at first glance but could indicate more significant structural problems that will require attention and repairs sooner rather than later.

While most builders should be ready to address any concerns during the construction process, never hesitate to seek professional advice if something doesn’t feel right. Remember, your home is a major investment and living space. Trust your instincts: if numerous red flags appear, reconsidering your options might be the best path forward. Always be prepared to speak up about any discrepancies or concerns and have a real estate agent in your corner to help speak up on your behalf. 

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