Checklist for a new home inspection walk through - things your inspector will miss!
We bought a new manufactured home in an over 55 active adult community. Because it was a brand new home and almost everything about it carried a one year or longer warranty, we did not feel the need to hire a professional home inspector. I feel that may have been a slight mistake, though I do want to stress that all warranty items we discovered later were taken care of to our satisfaction. Having a professional check the place over before we moved in may not have made any difference at all.
However, there were things we missed. Unfortunately, most of these were cosmetic issues that the builders would not honor claims against for obvious reasons - we could have caused the damage ourselves when moving in or after the fact.
I'm not sure that a professional inspector would have helped us with this kind of issue. Most of what they look for is gross structural or mechanical problems, not small cosmetic issues. For examples of the types of things these professionals do check, see Home Inspection Checklist.
Here are some of the things we and other folks we talked to missed. Most probably apply to any type of home, new or old, manufactured or stick built. I hope it helps someone possibly avoid unhappiness.
Look down. This is so easy to miss while you are walking around with the sellers representative. Scuffs, scratches and the like may or may not be easy to get out and plainly are not going to be covered after you move in.
We noticed a large cigarette burn on our kitchen floor weeks after moving in. We don't smoke and we did our own moving, but it doesn't matter. They would not cover that and we fully understand why - it is entirely our fault for missing that during inspection.
For vinyl and linoleum, look at an angle with good light. What you are looking for is nail heads pushing up. They make bumps and eventually will cause wear.
Same issue. Scratches from tools, cigarette burns. We had none of that but other people have. You have to catch it on walk-through for the same reasons.
I would hope not to find cigarette burns on the walls, but gouges and chips are not uncommon. If you will be painting anyway these may not matter, but you may as well look for them. It's a good time to look for sloppily installed or broken switch covers too. The misaligned covers will likely be accepted under a later claim, but broken will not be.
Obviously scratches need to be noticed now. Look even more carefully at the floor near appliances and at doors and doorjambs they would have come in through.
Shower stalls, toilets and tubs
We missed a gouge in our shower. Easy to do when you are soaking in the beauty of a gleaming walk in shower or marveling at a hydro massaging bathtub.
Towel racks and toilet paper holders
One of our towel racks pulled right out of the wall after we moved in. I was able to fix it easily with a Moly, but plainly the sellers could rightfully consider that we simply yanked on it too hard. With the sellers rep watching, firmly tug in every one of these.
Inside of Cabinets
You aren't likely to find tool marks here, but you could. Don't get blinded by all the beauty of the cabinets and the trim. Check the inside.
It is so easy to miss a small chip on the edge of a mirror, but once you do see it, it will nag at you forever. Find it now.
Long after all warranties had gone, we noticed that if water was spilled on the counter around our sink, it would leak through to the underneath cabinets. Poor caulking was to blame.
Make purposeful spills and see what happens.
You should also be looking for other holes and cracks. See my article on keeping mice out of your home for more on that.
All it takes is to be just a little too close and a few years later you'll have a hole in your wall because that door stopper wasn't where it should have been. Push the door against it - is the doorknob too close to the wall? Make them move it (and of course replace any tile that ends up with extra holes if there is any).
Floors in closets are easily overlooked, but you also need to tug on the clothes hanging rack. Ours fell down rather spectacularly; what a mess! Again, from the sellers point of view, we could have overloaded it. When we put it back up, we added more Molys and more support points.
Closet shelves and pantry shelves need the same tug test. Maybe you better go tug at those kitchen and bathroom cabinets too while you are in a tugging mood.
Of course there are other things to look at and check, but with a new home, they are probably warranty items. If the thermostat doesn't work come winter, you didn't break it moving in or living there. The same is true for a host of other items. What you want to look for is the kind of thing that could come from moving in or normal wear and tear.
If you experienced anything like this, please add it in the comments, it may help the next guy avoid aggravation and expense.
Good luck with your new home! We love ours and hope you will love yours just as much.
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