Residential Construction Phase Inspections

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HomeCert Houston Home Inspection - House PlansProtect your investment in your new home by having your own inspections performed at key phases of the construction process, before problem areas are hidden behind finish materials.

We can help identify defects in the construction of your new home while it is still possible to have them corrected and before they get covered up with our construction phase inspection service. All houses have defects and if they are not identified and corrected during the construction process, many of them will be covered by sheetrock and other materials in the later stages of construction and will be concealed from view during the final inspection process.

Interestingly, Texas has never had a licensing requirement for home builders. There is no minimum standard of knowledge or experience required. Anyone can become a homebuilder, with no qualification. More and more the home building process is being managed by people who have no foundational knowledge in construction or building standards. Your typical construction superintendent for the big name builders acts more as a project coordinator, simply calling in the various subcontractors as the project plan dictates. They spend surprisingly little time on quality control, inspection and performance management of the people who are actually building the home. This leaves many of the individual laborers to be essentially self-managed, which can lead to all sorts of quality control issues.

HomeCert Houston Home Construction Phase Inspection

HomeCert Houston Home Construction Pre-Cover Phase Inspection

Some builders do have their own independent quality control inspectors. However, these folks work for the builder and do the level and type of inspection that the builder specifies. These inspections are generally narrow in scope and are checklist driven. They are no substitute for the consumer having an independent inspector, of their choosing, perform a detailed inspection of the home at key points in the construction process. I have never seen a builder’s checklist inspector spend more than a fraction of the time that a good independent inspector, working on the client’s behalf does on an inspection. Nor is the builder’s inspector advocating on behalf of the buyer — remember: his client is the builder, not you.

Foundation Pre-Pour

HomeCert Houston New Construction - Pre-pour Foundation InspectionThe foundation pre-pour inspection is done just prior to the pouring of the foundation which is the last opportunity to inspect beam and foundation depth, reinforcement, vapor barrier, plumbing penetrations, etc. before they are all buried in concrete. We do offer this service on request, however, most all foundations in our area are engineered and there will be an Engineer of Record who is responsible for ensuring the foundation make-up is done to specification. The Engineer will perform a final inspection, prior to concrete placement which is largely redundant to what we do. Because the engineer is licensed and charged with following recognized engineering practices and must sign-off on the foundation with under his/her professional license, you are usually OK to rely on their assessment.

The timing for pre-pour foundation inspections is critical and usually very tight with little lead-time. Concrete is typically delivered early the morning following completion of the foundation preparation, leaving a very small window of time for scheduling and issue remediation. When we do perform foundation pre-pour inspections we will paint mark and photograph issues with the foundation make-up. We will leave a handwritten punchlist on-site for the builder due to the short time window. By the time the builder sees the report, the foundation has typically already been poured. We will publish a report with photos for the client.  There is rarely any opportunity to verify corrections.

Frame Pre-Cover

HomeCert Houston New Construction - Pre-cover frame InspectionThe frame, also known as pre-cover inspection should be performed after all windows, plumbing rough-in, electrical rough-in, HVAC duct systems, etc. have been installed, but before insulation and interior wall finishes have been applied. This inspection will focus primarily on structural components, plumbing and electrical rough-ins which will not be visible or accessible after the insulation and sheetrock get installed.

The completed mechanical system rough-ins are important for a complete frame / pre-cover inspection because mechanical contractors are known to remove roof braces, cut through supports and beams, etc. They frequently alter the structural components by drilling, notching and cutting framing members to make room for their system components. Often times these contractors make improper alterations that can weaken the structure. The frame / pre-cover inspection is very important because once the insulation is installed and the drywall is up, all deficiencies and problems become permanently concealed. These issues are rarely detectable during a final inspection.

Houston New Construction Inspection - Bad Window Installation

Not the way you want to see your windows installed. Notice that our guy looks like Freddy from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. Coincidence? We think not.

Window installation is another important consideration for the frame / pre-cover inspection. Windows must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and AAMA 2400 and ASTM E2112 standards. Failure to properly install window systems invites air and water leaks. We routinely find windows installed in a fashion that is inconsistent with these standards. Many of these, if left uncorrected, will leak and cause problems over time. The only time that it is possible to assess whether windows have been properly installed is during the frame / pre-cover inspection.

Final Pre-Closing

HomeCert Houston Home Inspection - New Construction HouseThis is a full TREC (i.e., full Texas Real Estate Commission) compliant inspection, which should be done a few days prior to closing, after appliances are installed and operational and most work crews have completed their work. The final new construction inspection is identical to our Pre-Closing Inspection.

Additional Certifications

In addition to our primary certifications, we also have the following skills, qualifications and certifications.

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