So you say
you are a pretty good judge of "good or bad" work? Ask
yourself "what should I look for in a new home"? The
simplest things to look for usually tell the entire story of the
Builder and how good of a job he does. Here are some tips from a guy
that has built many homes and DOES know what to look for. These
things can be done without ever talking to the Builder or Salesman.
go directly into the Basement. If it has not been pressure
Is the poured wall flaked
off?...muddy?...cracked? Is it insulated at least 48" down from
the box sill (new code)
Look at the jack Posts to see if the
writing on them are upside down. If the sticker is upside down,
someone did not pay enough attention at the start of the job but to
put the posts in upside down, so what do you suppose the things that
are hidden under the walls will be like? Close one eye and eyeball
the post with the corner of the basement wall to see if it is plumb,
if not....you decide.
On the jack post, look to see if you
can see the threads on the screw adjusters. They are supposed to be
installed, adjusted and concrete poured around them, thus not
visible. If the screw is at the top of the post by the beam they are
upside down and / or put in after the floor was poured.....no
Don't be alarmed by a wood beam. Wood beams actually
have a better fire rating than does a steel beam and they cost about
Make sure the concrete floor is sawn at least a 1/2"
deep every 12' or so. Concrete will crack....count on it. That is why
we saw it....to create a weak spot so that it will crack inside the
saw mark and at least be straight.
See if there is an
"expansion" between the concrete floor and the basement
wall. A piece of sill sealer or even a shingle will work. If there is
none the floor will crack around the entire basement about 4' out
from the wall.
Is there a drain on the furnace that goes into
a floor drain. Does the floor drain have a grate?
bridging in between the floor joists on any span over 8'?
the floor joists doubled on any span over 6' where there is a
paralell wall above it?....that is a code very few people catch.
much insulation is in the Box Sill? (where the floor joists set on
the basement wall)
Are there risers on the basement stairs or
can you see through them. Is there full walls beside the stairs or
just a stiffener stud?...You decide which one is better.
the stairs squeak? Are the stairs glued underneath? Are the treads
rounded in the front with 1 1/4" nose on them or are they made
out of a 2x10?
See if the 1st floor squeaks. Go back in the
basement and look up at where the plywood sits on the floor joist and
see if any glue was used. If so, some will ooze out.
the floor squeaks up close to an interior wall, the wall was not
secured properly to the floor. 90% of all floor squeaks are not
caused by loose plywood rather interior walls riding on the sub
floor. The floor deflects when you put weight on it and moves enough
Eyeball up the interior walls with the exterior
corners to see if they are plumb. If there is a taper...there is a
problem. Do the same with the edges of the windows and an interior
wall. This will tell you if the window is level. If not, it will not
work properly and will eventually break the glass due to the
Lean down and look at the bottom edge of the cabinet
doors. If they are all the same the builder has adjusted them, if not
that will tell you their attention to detail.
interior doors latch when closed? How are the margins on the interior
and exterior doors when closed? Are the miters on the casing tight?
It is hard to tell with painted woodwork. Some Builders use painted
woodwork so they can caulk bad workmanship and no one will ever
know...not all...but some.
Make sure the sump pump discharge
line runs out the box sill and
not the concrete wall. The
vibration of the pump after a few years will cause them to leak if
they are in the basement wall.
Are the counter tops
Is Vinyl or
Aluminum Siding lapped backwards? In other words....stand at the
front door and see if you can see seams in the siding. If the answer
is yes....the siding was all put on backwards.
favorite! Do you have to put the key in the locks with the jagged
edge up or straight edge up? If the jagged edge points to the bottom,
it is upside down. Water will set in the tumblers and freeze the lock
Is there a paint on the walls with a sheen on
it or is it a flat paint? A flat paint is used by most builders
because it will hide any imperfections in sanded drywall. This is
very acceptable. Flat paint does what primer does to painting a
Has the furnace filter been cleaned?
Is all of the
screw heads on the switch plates and plug covers pointing vertical?
Or are they pointing just any old direction....this lends to the
credibility of the Detail work.
Is the tile and the linoleum
square with the walls? Is it nicked up?
See if any of the
light fixtures are not "tight to the ceiling". If
not....it's loose....very common problem.
Does the grade slope
away from the house?
Does the garage floor slope towards
the door or is it flat?
Is there sealer on the garage floor
and the exterior concrete?
Look at the neatness where the
wiring runs into the main panel.
Is the Electrical Panel
Is there smoke detectors in every bedroom?...other
Is there an outside air device on any wood burning
fireplace? This is a must as with today's air infiltration
requirements and insulation mandates. The fireplace will make the
house cold if it does not have outside make up air.
floors feel springy?.....they shoudn't.