You’d think a brand-new home wouldn’t have any construction defects, but it happens more often than you might think.
According to a study reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 65% of homeowners surveyed uncovered issues with their newly constructed home, and 24% said their new home didn’t pass its first inspection.
Some new home defects may be the fault of the builder. Others may be the fault of various subcontractors. It’s easy to miss things here and there with so many different professionals working on one home.
So here are the most common new home construction defects to look out for:
1. Improper grading and drainage
Before a house can be built, the ground must be leveled, shaped, and sloped—a process known as “grading.” Unfortunately, even a good grading job can be hurt by settling due to changes in temperature and moisture. And since grading may not settle in a uniform way, uneven surfaces can develop and lead to poor drainage issues.
It’s important to get the grading and drainage right, however. Otherwise, water could start seeping around the foundation and cause serious water damage.
2. Incorrectly applied siding
If siding such as stucco is applied incorrectly to the outside walls of the house, it could start flaking or “spalling” off. The same goes for wood siding. It could start cracking or developing waves. The sooner you address these issues, the better.
3. Cracks in the concrete
Sometimes the concrete on the driveway or sidewalk next to your new home can crack due to what’s known as “shrinkage.” This refers to when the concrete expands or contracts due to changes in temperature. If the concrete cracks, water may seep into it, freeze, and expand the gap even further. So if you notice any gaps in the concrete, have them sealed as soon as possible.
4. Flooring issues
There are many ways the floors in your house could turn out defective. For example, they could have tile cracks, uneven wood, cracks between boards, or curling linoleum.
All of these issues could be the result of improper installation, but they could also be caused by moisture fluctuations within the home.
5. Cracks in the drywall
Wood loses moisture over time, which can cause it to shrink. Over time, this can lead the drywall in your house to settle and crack. Since this is common in the first year after building a home, you probably have a 1-warranty that covers this.
6. Nail pops
Shrinkage can also push nail heads out of the wall. This typically happens near the corner of a ceiling or wall. To fix it, you’ll want to push the nail heads back in, then cover the area with new compound and sand and repaint it.
7. Rising truss
Your roof is supported by trusses (aka the roof framing). The bottom of each truss is nestled in the ceiling of your home. Since the bottom of the truss is more insulated than the top, it can get warmer, leading to shrinking, warping, and rising.
Keep in mind that this is an insulation issue, not a structural issue. It usually happens after your first winter. To fix it, you’ll need to have the drywall tape repaired where the ceiling and wall meet.
8. Humidity inside the house
If moisture from the lumber in your home’s truss system and framing starts building up, it could move to the walls, windows, and doors. This can lead to mold and mildew problems, which are serious health hazards.
9. Incorrect appliance installation
Sometimes, appliances are installed incorrectly. This is a common mistake since appliances are the last thing to go in the house and tend to be an afterthought as a result. So be sure to check that your fridge, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and washer and dryer all work correctly.
10. Doors don’t close properly
Notice that your doors struggle to close? This may be due to improper installation, a warped door frame, loose hinges, or humidity or temperature changes. Have a handyman take a look to get it fixed.
11. Wet basement or crawl spaces
According to iPropertyManagement.com, 98% of basements experience some sort of water damage. Many of these are new homes.
Basement water damage is often the result of runoff from the roof. For example, if the gutters and downspouts are clogged and don’t direct water away from the home’s foundation as they should, it could lead to water seeping into the basement.
12. Water stains around windows and doors
When moisture makes its way through cracks around windows and doors, it can lead to water leaks, stains, and even mold. If this happens, check the insulation, flashing, and caulking in your walls.
If you notice any of the above defects in your new home, address them immediately. As mentioned previously, your new home probably comes with a 1-year warranty that covers most of these issues.
But in some cases, a warranty may not be worth the paper it is written on if the builder will not actually respond to fix the issues or only offers band-aid repairs. If that’s the case, you can hire a reputable construction defect lawyer to help you pursue legal action.
You deserve a quality home, especially if it’s brand new. So don’t accept anything less than the best.