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Top 10 Defects Found in New Homes


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Title: Top 10 Defects Found in New Homes

Top 10 Defects Found in New Homes
  • Presented by
  • The National Association of Certified Home
  • Chicago Chapter

Top 10 New Home Defects New Construction
  • Just because a home is new does not mean that it
    is free of defects
  • Local governmental code inspections do not
    guarantee there will be no defects
  • Even good quality, professional builders make
    some mistakes
  • Low cost subcontractors are not always the most
  • New technology and materials can mean better
    quality at a lower cost

1. Foundation Clearance to Grade
  • The grade (soil) level around the houses
    perimeter should be a minimum of 6 below the
    brick and 8 below the siding or stucco exterior
    wall covering.
  • Weep holes or wicks should be clear of water
    infiltration and wood destroying insect entry.
  • Most landscapers do not know this.
  • Most builders dont either.

1. Foundation Clearance to Grade
1. Foundation Clearance to Grade
Brand new 4,400 square foot house. Code
inspected. But with a big defect!
1. Foundation Clearance to Grade
Note the nice stone planter at the front of the
house? The weep wicks are located 3 below the
planters soil level. Water can enter the house
through the weep wicks. The result?
1. Foundation Clearance to Grade
Three months later, the buyer found this behind
the basement drywall. Rotted rim and floor joists
and sill plate. 36,000 repair bill.
2. Attic Ventilation
  • Attics should be ventilated. This is to guard
    against moisture build-up and mold formation, as
    well as to extend the life of the roof covering.
  • Most builders to not properly install the attic
  • Often, bathroom, kitchen and laundry exhaust
    vents are not taken to the exterior, but simply
    vented to the attic.

2. Attic Ventilation
2. Attic Ventilation
Covered soffit vents leading to excessive
moisture build-up in the attic and mold formation.
2. Attic Ventilation
2nd floor laundry dryer vented to the soffit, but
not properly taken to the exterior. Roof decking
is rotted. This house was only 3 months old.
3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
  • Roofs shed water into gutters
  • Upper roof downspouts should not drain to lower
  • Excessive water from downspouts can destroy the
    lower roof and usually voids the roof
    manufacturers warranty.
  • Downspouts should extend, at least, 6 away from
    the houses foundation.
  • If water is taken away from the house, it cant
    leak into the basement.

3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
This porch roof has failed. Water was leaking
underneath. The cause, water from the downspout
that drains the upper roof area. Downspouts
should be drained directly into lower gutters or
the ground.
3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
Gutter end downspout draining directly onto a
cedar shake roof in a 12,000 square foot
house. Roof decking displayed signs of leakage on
the inside. This house was less than two years
3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
Gutter end not closed, no downspout. Water
draining directly onto roof and flowing against
dormer sidewall.
3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
Thermal imaging of interior shows water
infiltration into walls because of excessive
water against dormer sidewall has overrun the
flashing and is leaking inside. Moisture
readings of this area confirmed the thermal image
3. Gutter and Downspout Placement
It is truly amazing that people will pay 10,000
for waterproofing and drain tiles, but will not
spend 20.00 for downspout extensions. Water
taken away from the house will not enter the
4. Plumbing Installation
  • Plumbers will sometimes do anything to get the
    pipes in, even if they have to destroy the
    houses structure to do so.
  • Watch out for cuts in floor joists, stud walls
    and even foundations.
  • Most of these defects can not be seen once the
    house is completed.
  • It pays to have a phased construction inspection
    before the drywall is installed.

4. Plumbing Installation
Plumber simply removed the floor joists that got
in the way of the toilet installation. While this
is an older house, the defect was original to the
house. This was uncovered during a recent
remodeling after the ceiling drywall was removed.
4. Plumbing Installation
The foundation just got in the way of this
plumbers need to install a soil drain
pipe. Solution? Just break through the
foundation. But, he managed to properly support
the pipe.
4. Plumbing Installation
Support pier gets in the way? Just modify it
5. HVAC Duct Installation
  • Due to poor planning by the Builder, or poor
    design by the Architect, the installation of
    ductworks can sometimes be an afterthought.
  • Structural joists should not be notched or cut
    unless a Licensed Structural Engineer has
    calculated the loads and approved the
  • HVAC duct installation in attics and crawl spaces
    should always be checked very closely.
    Insulation is key!

5. HVAC Duct Installation
Here, the floor joist in the basement was just
cut to allow for the duct. This severely effects
the structural soundness of the house.
5. HVAC Duct Installation
In this house, the builder did not follow the
manufacturers instruction for cutting holes in
the I joists. Manufacturers instructions always
override local building codes.
5. HVAC Duct Installation
Here, the cut openings were according to
manufacturer specs, but were misaligned.
5. HVAC Duct Installation
The ceiling HVAC ductwork in this house, run in
the attic, was not properly insulated and sealed.
The result? Humid air in the attic condenses on
the duct and drips down onto the ceiling.
Un-repaired, the ceiling will fail in a couple
of years and cause mold buildup. Easy to fix.
6. Structural Defects
  • The structure of a house is determined by
    calculations made by a Structural Engineer and
    should not be changed without the Engineers
  • Many times, errors are made in the field and
    structural changes are made without any approval.
  • Other times, installation is not done properly.

6. Structural Defects
This support post is not installed correctly. The
plate at the end of the post should support the
entire beam assembly.
6. Structural Defects
The support pier in this house is not properly
placed to support the beam. The floor beam was
installed about 6 too far to the left.
6. Structural Defects
This support beam was misaligned where it meets
the foundation. Wooden shims were installed in an
attempt to correct the error. Bad planning by the
foundation contractor.
6. Structural Defects
The placement of the crawlspace vent was changed
in the plans. The main support beam is resting on
one little piece of 2 x 4. This house had just
passed local municipal code inspection.
7. Last Minute Changes
  • Building a house is a complex process.
    Sometimes, little things get missed.
  • When they do, it is imperative that the errors be
    corrected properly, and in a professional manner.
  • Haphazard or figure it out as you go correction
    can be very costly.
  • Better to find them out before the sale is

7. Last Minute Changes
No place for the garage door opener? No
problem. Lets just cut through a large support
joist in the garages ceiling.
7. Last Minute Changes
No clearance for the garage door openers
track? Again, no problem! Lets just break out
the old acetylene torch and cut a hole through a
steel girder. Think of the time and effort that
went into creating this defect.
7. Last Minute Changes
This huge (15,000 SF) custom house was halfway
built when they found out that it was falling
over. Some of the engineering calculations were
wrong. Large and expensive repairs had to be
done. Even architects and engineers make mistakes.
7. Last Minute Changes
Custom made and massive new steel girders had to
be installed. This also called for a complete
change in the design and layout of the house.
8. Electrical Defects
  • Most of the new houses on the market are built
    after the tear down of an old house.
  • This means that the new houses are substantially
    bigger than the houses the replace.
  • Large houses have their own special needs,
    especially with regards to the electrical system.

8. Electrical Defects
Larger houses require larger electrical
service. Just two decades ago, 60 amps were
considered to be sufficient. This house is
supplied with 400 amps of electrical service and
two large 200 amp panels.
8. Electrical Defects
Large electrical service requires large
electrical service equipment. This 400 amp main
service equipment panel is usually only found in
commercial construction. Does the electrical
subcontractor have experience with installing
commercial equipment such as this?
8. Electrical Defects
With so little room in urban building, sometimes
the electrical service drop is placed too close
to doors, windows and other areas where people
may come in contact with the wires.
8. Electrical Defects
With large houses, it is necessary to run wire
long distances. If not done properly, this can
cause excessive drops in voltage. NEC states that
voltage drops should not exceed 5 at 12 amps
load. Here we see more than twice that.
8. Electrical Defects
Recessed, can ceiling lights are very popular,
but must be installed properly and of the proper
type. This light is not.
8. Electrical Defects
Do you see where this recessed light is installed?
8. Electrical Defects
Inside the pull down stairway to the attic! A
very ingenious installation, but to acceptable to
National Safety standards.
8. Electrical Defects
Installing a 240 volt electrical receptacle
directly next to a toilet is also not a good idea.
9. Water Heaters
  • Water heaters, if improperly installed or
    maintained, can pose serious safety concerns.
  • Does the water heater have sufficient combustion
  • Was it properly installed.
  • Is its safety features working properly.

9. Water Heaters
This water heater was only 3 years old. It was
improperly installed. Its water connections were
not equipped with the required di-electric
fittings and the flue pipe was improperly set.
9. Water Heaters
This water heaters TPR (Temperature Pressure
Relief) valve connected to plastic tubing and
extending up rather than down. In the case of
excessive pressure, live steam would be sprayed
outward and upward and the steams heat would
melt the plastic discharge piping.
9. Water Heaters
This water heater was installed in an unfinished
crawlspace, directly on the ground.
9. Water Heaters
Just too many things wrong in one place.
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
  • Even with the best plans and the best Builder and
    the best subcontractors, Murphys law still has
  • This is what is technically known as the Oops
  • The usual hazard to the home inspector is just
    plain laughing themselves to death.

10. Just Plain Bad Luck
Improper toilet / door placement. Bad planning
and lack of coordination between sub
contractors. Many buyers just cant understand
how this could have happened. Many contractors
wonder as well!
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
It was OK before they installed the
carpet. Different sub contractors blaming each
other. Originally, sub-floor, then hardwood, than
a change order for carpet. In any case, the
receptacle should not be installed in the base
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
The interior designer got a little carried away
with the White Sox win, last year. Please
Note The usage and spacing of the bats as
ballisters does not conform to National Safety
standards for child safety! This is a child
safety hazard!
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
Is the light fixture too high or the suspended
ceiling too low or are the light bulbs of too
high a wattage? Whatever the case, it is a fire
hazard and is wrong.
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
This huge, beautiful whirlpool was, later,
surrounded with expensive Italian marble tile.
Problem? No access door was installed.
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
Many masons today use the Buddy system for
laying bricks. The outcome? Improper buttering
of brick joints as seen on the right.
10. Just Plain Bad Luck
Too much fertilizer in the roofing cement?