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Your New Construction Home Inspection: An Interview with Roger Olson of Olson, Black, & Associates Inc.

By Roger Olson

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

    Olson, Black & Associates, Inc.
  • provides residential and commercial building inspections/evaluations,
  • does structural evaluations in residential and commercial buildings
  • provides expert witness services for construction dispute resolution
  • provides foundation certifications for manufactured housing
  • serves as HUD consultant on 203(k) projects

We have been involved with these areas of work in Central Pennsylvania for about 30 years. In that period of time we have inspected many, many buildings and have seen many, many problems.

What is different about a home inspection for a new construction property?

I think the biggest difference is that with new construction the buyer feels that the building is "perfect". When buying a previously occupied structure expectations are lower.

When should new construction inspections be done?

All home building today relies on the human element. Individuals erect framing, put together electrical systems, finish drywall. Individual workers may be dealing with lack of sleep, worrying about an upcoming divorce, thinking about a child's sickness. We have not gotten to the point where robots build houses.

Because of the human element, mistakes are made, things are forgotten, and items do not get installed as called for in the plans. Accordingly, construction inspections as building of the home progresses are important. These inspections will certainly be done by the builder and his foreperson. Bringing other sets of eyes into the equation (code enforcement people and a home inspector) basically is good common sense.

What are some of the most common defects or problems you've found in new construction homes in the Pennsylvania area?

A biggie is water intrusion which can lead to structural damage and mold/mildew problems. I have found a couple of cases where total areas of insulation were not installed. Another common item is just simply things that have not been completed?grading, plantings, painting.

What happens if last-minute items haven't been fixed/completed during the inspection?

This can be tricky. If the item is substantial, for example, installation of a concrete driveway, the home buyer likely will want a monetary assurance that the work will be completed. It the item is minor, for example, painting touchup, the buyer may accept the builder's promise that he will be back to take care of it. A lot at this stage of the game depends on the relationship the home buyer has with the builder. If it is a good, solid, trusting relationship that has developed over the course of the job, final settlement will be much easier. If the job has been plagued with differences and arguments one can expect a difficult final settlement.

What advice would you give to people in Pennsylvania getting a new construction home inspected?

I would recommend retaining a qualified, competent inspection firm to be involved with the home buyer and builder throughout the construction process.

What's the best way for people to contact you and/or your company?

I'm very reachable at (717)520-9898 or email, housedoctr@att.net.

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About The Author

Roger is president and founder of Olson, Black & Associates, Inc. He holds a civil...

Phone: 717-520-9898

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