New construction: how to judge quality?


We're going to look at a house that was built in 2007 and never been occupied. I've Googled the builder, but haven't found much.
Is there any way to determine the quality of the work and materials, as a layperson?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Humm, I'd look closely at the corners, especially where the woodwork meets at the floor. If it's sloppy, then apt to be the construction is elsewhere as well. Take a flashlight and look deep inside the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. How well that looks can indicate the care done with the rest of the house.
Go up in the attic. Peel the insulation back a bit and see how it looks under it.
Check windows. Is there a small gap you can fit a credit card under between it and the walls? Lack of caulking can mean they scrimped elsewhere.
Remove a few outlet covers and just peek in there and see if it looks like the wires are tight and the boxes are well anchored.
Before actually buying, ask them for their inspection report. Get the name of the inspector. Before actually signing anything, pay for a second inspection with a *different fellow* who has no relation to the first one so no reason to hide or 'soft shoe' anything.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mitch@_._ wrote:

What cshenk said, plus try to talk to someone who lives in a similar house from the same builder around there and ask if they had any major problem
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

For what it's worth, this is the builder: http://www.wisemanhughes.com/now/index.php
The entire subdivions is made up of their homes exclusively, so I hope to go on a nice day, walk through the neighborhood and talk to people.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mitch@_._ wrote:

Call me a curmudgeon, but the fact that they have a slick website, and their own finance arm, would be Big Red Flags, to me. I'm not a fan of McBuilders. Most of the ones I have seen were mainly in the business of lending money- throwing up the houses was just an incidental way to get you in the door. Quality builders don't need to advertise much, or have sales, or salesmen. They have all the business they can handle via word of mouth, and people seek them out. McBuilder cookie-cutter houses are usually related to a quality build, the same way a Big Mac is related to food.
But having said that- tomorrow is Sunday, the traditional Open House day. Go walk through some houses built in the last ten years by a custom builder, and store up some fresh memories of how the place feels, how solid the floors feel, the quality of the cabinets and fittings, the fit and finish on the trimwork, etc. Then go walk through the house you are thinking about again. Any differences should jump out at you. Beyond that, like the others said, pay for an expert opinion. I grew up in the business, so I am admittedly prejudiced on the subject, but at the same price point, I'd take a 5-10 year old custom house over a new cookie cutter any day.
-- aem sends...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If it is like most of the new construction I have seen around here it was probably built to low bid specifications. Meaning that the builder got the cheapest subcontractors he could find who used the cheapest materials and the cheapest labor in order to make a profit. Instead of hiring an inspector, you would be better off paying for an electrician, a plumber, and an HVAC contractor to come spend an hour or two and give you their honest assessments. You could try contacting the town building inspectors and ask them what they thought of the construction, but they may be reluctant to be honest with a stranger.
Usually problems with the infrastructure don't manifest themselves until a few years down the road after the original builder has changed corporate entities. Check for cracking in the foundation and inside the basement. Look for any signs of moisture in the basement. If any doors don't seem to close properly that could indicate a bad hang job or a sagging wall. As an electrician I tend to notice things like crooked wall plates on switches and outlets which may not indicate a bad wiring job, but does show a lack of professionalism on the installers part.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You have to put things into perspective. Is the house part of a large tract of "starter" homes or is it an upscale neighborhood? Or is it a one of a kind built to appeal to the discriminating buyer?
cshenk told you to go to the attic. I'm telling you to go to the basement too. Look at the electrical panel. Is it the minimum required or is it large enough to expansion? Is the heating system one of the better brands? Take a look at the ceiling beams if exposed. Is the door hardware cheap crap or something better?
Look at fit and finish on things like kitchen and bath cabinets. Even the low end stuff should be properly installed but the more expensive house will have better quality materials.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome /




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Aug 15, 1:30pm, Mitch@_._ wrote:

Simply put, no. For emphasis, hell no. A lot of sloppy workmanship will be obvious to even Aunt Minnie, but the important details are best judged by experienced people. If you are going to spend north of 150,000 large on a house, wouldn't it be simple common sense to talk to some folks in an architectural/engineering firm about buying a day's time of one of their experts to assess the place for problems? Perhaps you could contact a retired city building inspector for similar help. Whatever, unoccupied houses tend to have far more problems than those that are promptly sold and occupied, so be careful.
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Aug 15, 1:30pm, Mitch@_._ wrote:

You need it inspected by a pro and a good warranty since nothing has been tested. Go to the court house to find the builders record, hopefully he has had no cases.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You've had several very good responses.
I'll only add something on my old "acid test" ...
Got a stud-finder and a tape measure? Measure the distance between several wall-studs. 16" is standard for well-built homes. If you measure, say, 24", you might wanna forget about the house muy pronto. This assumes you're not shopping for a cheapo.
It's the first thing I'd check unless the fit/finish or structural integrity, design, grade, etc was so bad that I'd reject at a glance.
P
On Fri, 15 Aug 2008 18:30:48 GMT, Mitch@_._ wrote:

"I Ain't Blind, I Just Don't Wanna See" - the title of a tune by Little Joe Blue, maybe 1966
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

is it even legal to frame walls 24" on center in an area zoned residential?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
kzin wrote:

During the housing bubble, some communities outsourced building inspection to the same developers that were putting up the developments. They excused it on the basis that it was saving taxpayers from having to hire a bunch of new inspectors. Other communities resorted to the drive-by inspection (sometimes knowingly, sometimes as a result of bribery), where the inspector would sign off on structures he hadn't even looked at.
The residential construction business employers thousands of unskilled illegals with no prior history in the construction business. The quality of their construction was just what you'd expect.
Personally, I'd avoid any homes built between 2002-2008 just as a matter of prudence.
HellT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Aug 15, 2:30�pm, Mitch@_._ wrote:

get a home inspection, its amazing what a good inspector can find.
plus issues they find can get you a discount on the purchase:)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.