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Building a Home

Foundation
  • Make sure the footer is on virgin soil, failure to do so will result in excessive settlement.
  • Before the foundation is backfilled, check for proper drainage, make sure there is stone covering the perforated pipe, make sure there is filter covering the stone. If this is not done, in a couple of years the drain will clog and the basement will begin to leak water.
  • Foundation cracks, check exterior walls for cracks and cold pours, make sure snap ties are purged or sealed below grade
Floors and Ceilings

Before the drywall is installed you need to check the framing, check the floor joists, many builders are using manufactured floor joists, they look like wooden I beams, or open-web trusses. Open-web and thin-web I-beam joists are especially vulnerable to failure if any member is cut or if flanges or other member are not installed properly or are cracked. Trusses work as a system, and losing a single member may threaten the entire system. Installed properly they function fine. The problem however, is that 50% of homes that I inspect, are not properly framed. It is crucial that Wooden I-Beams are supported properly under ALL load bearing walls with webstiffiners or squash blocks. The squash blocks need to be cut 1/8" taller than the floor joists. Very often you will find that the squash blocks are cut 1/4" to 3/8" short. Therefore the floor joists will be crushed, compromising strength and transferring an additional 1/2" of settlement in the walls, doors, and floors above it. Make sure the top and bottom of the I-beam are not cut.

If you plan to install a deck later, arrange to have the builder install and flash a rim joist of sufficient strength to support the deck. The majority of wooden I-Beams used as rim joists can not support a deck.

If metal bracing is installed, insure that it is secured properly, failure to do so will result in squeaky floors. It will be too late to correct after the drywall is installed.

Make sure that bathroom fixtures are properly supported and that plumbers haven’t cut critical framing members.

Have the builder install electrical boxes and supports for ceiling fans at a later date. (There may be a charge for this)

Plumbing

Follow the plumbing through the structure to insure that framing members were not cut improperly. If possible, insist on copper, PB plumbing (gray flexible plastic) has a history of problems (leaks) in area’s that have high chlorine content. If possible, insulate chases that contain vertical PVC drains because it is noisy. Make sure that plumbing is properly supported; check the water meter to make sure the pipes are not supporting the weight. PB needs to be supported every 32”

Electrical
  • Have the contractor install outlets for garage door openers. (May cost extra)
  • Insure that electrical boxes are not sticking out more than ½” past the face of the stud.
  • Electrical installations are inspected by outside independent firms. Typically, few problems are experienced with this item.

Roof

  • Make sure that flashing and counter flashing is installed properly at chimneys around skylights, and valley.
  • Make sure that plywood clips are installed between trusses or rafters for roof sheathing.
  • If possible insist on drip edge. This will extend the life of the roof sheathing.
Attic

Inspect all trusses to make sure that they are supported where designed and haven’t been modified. Trusses are designed for a certain load and are made to be supported at the designated point.

Decks

If you are going to install a deck later, you should see if the builder can install and flash a board for you to attach your deck to. This is particularly important if you have manufactured wood I-beam floor joists.

  • If a deck is wobbly, have the builder install cross bracing.
Exterior
  • Check the grading, look where the downspouts are going to dump water. Water needs to be at least 10 feet away from the foundation before it is absorbed, or else it may end up back in your basement.
  • Vinyl siding should hang on the nails, not be secured too tightly or else it may buckle on hot days.
    Insure that J-channel is installed around all doors and windows.
  • Make sure all penetrations (i.e. electrical service, bath vents, dryer vents, sump pump etc.) through the siding are caulked.
  • Make sure the grading is at least 6 inches away from siding

Heating

  • Observe where heat vents will be located in the home.
  • Look for any flexible vents that are crushed.
  • Insist on upper and lower returns. This will make your house much more comfortable in the summer and winter.
  • If possible, have the contractor install dampers in the basement, again this will make your house much more comfortable in the summer and winter.
  • Check for air flow at registers.
  • Check for pipe support on gas piping, it should not be supported by the heater.
  • Have the heating contractor install a cut out for the furnace filter. It is much easier to change the filter if you do not have to take the heater apart.
  • If you are installing a fossil fuel furnace, have the contractor install the heater with the combustion air supplied from the exterior of the structure. This will help cut down on heating bills, enabling you to enclose the heater in a smaller room and cut down on the radon gas entering the home.

Well

  • If you are buying a home, your mortgage company will insist on a water test for bacteria. In addition to bacteria, you may want to have your water tested for metals, nitrates and other contaminates.

Septic

  • If you are buying a home with a septic system, it is important that you understand that a septic system can only handle a limited amount or water.

Radon

  • Radon is a Class A Carcinogen (and the second leading cause of lung cancer). The EPA recommends that all home buyers do a radon test. When you sell, you can bet the buyer will have the home tested then you will be stuck with the cost of remediation. Aside from the fact that you and your family may have been exposed to this hazard. A radon test takes 2 days and can be performed by our staff for less than $100.

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