The “Blue Tape” Inspection
After you’ve contracted on a new home, your builder will schedule a walk-through inspection.
Typically, they’ll provide you with a roll of blue painter’s tape and you’ll both walk through the house looking for anything and everything that isn’t right. If there’s a nick in the paint on the wall, put a piece of tape on it. If there’s a chip in the granite counter, put a piece of tape on it. And so on.
Plan approximately 2 hours for this “blue tape walk-through” inspection, depending on what other business the builder’s representative wants to take care of at this time. For example, they may want to show you how to turn appliances and systems on and off, show you shut off valves, etc.
After the builder takes about a week to fix all the blue tape items, they’ll usually have you back for round 2 of blue taping the house. This cycle continues until you agree to close, either because there aren’t any more items to put blue tape on or because you’re comfortable trusting that the builder’s warranty will take care of it after closing.
Even though you and your builder go through the house armed with blue tape, we’d like to suggest you consider hiring a professional inspector.
You, the builder’s representative, and your Realtor aren’t licensed home inspectors. Licensed home inspectors are required by Oklahoma State Law to look at the structure, exterior, roof, plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, interior, insulation/ventilation, and fireplaces.
No home–new, old, remodeled–will come up with a perfect bill of health. While a home may not have any alarming issues, an inspector will always find something to recommend improving, enhancing, or at least provide home maintenance and upkeep tips to prevent future issues.
In addition to a general home inspection, you can pay for specialized inspections, like structural, roof, chimney, lead-based paint, pool, soil, mold, etc. One or more of these specialized inspections may be included in a package deal offered by a team of inspectors, or you can purchase each service separately.
The home inspection industry exists because the average home buyer isn’t trained to evaluate a home and continually informed of the latest safety concerns, code requirements, and best practices. For example, even a carpenter buying a home may not know how to properly detect foundation, plumbing, or environmental hazard issues.
Spending $450-700 on inspections (could be more or less) to be much more informed about how you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars is an excellent investment.
Should I Pay for Inspections even for New Construction?
With all that information out of the way, we can answer the question at hand.
While we’d never recommend against doing an inspection that you want to do, the decision is yours. Many buyers choose not to conduct professional inspections prior to buying the house because they assume the builder’s warranty will resolve it. However, not all builder’s warranties are the same. Some truly are “bumper to bumper”, most expire after 12 months, and some have limitations (e.g. plumbing, appliances, etc.).
If you were to discover such issues prior to closing, you have more leverage with the builder (might get it resolved more quickly), you don’t own it yet (you can get out of the deal if it won’t be fixed), and you can have items resolved prior to you moving in (so they’re not working around all your furniture, children, etc.).
If you choose not to do professional inspections prior to closing, you may still want to do them before your warranty expires (e.g. after 9-11 months of ownership). This way, you can ask questions like, “What’s this noise I’ve been hearing every 3 weeks from the West end of the house?” You can get a fix-it list from the inspector(s), deliver it to the builder, and request the repairs to be made. Usually, as long as the request is made prior to the warranty expiration, they’ll handle it even if the work is done after the expiration.
If you did professional inspections prior to closing, you can ask the same inspector(s) to come back out after 9-11 months and sometimes they’ll give you a discounted “second visit” rate.
We’ve provided you the information. The money and decision is yours, and you need to choose what you’re most comfortable with. Always make sure to stay in good communication with your Realtor because we’ll do our best to provide you with good advice for your specific situation and concerns.
Whenever you decide to consider the services of professional inspectors, you can reference our list of reputable inspectors serving the Tulsa Area.