Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Photos From New Construction Inspections


If you're buying a new construction home, get it inspected by a private home inspector.

I could wax on and on about how important home inspections are for new construction, especially if the builder tells you that a private home inspection isn't necessary, but I've found that photos are far more convincing than anything I could say.  I took all of the photos below at homes in Minnesota that were either new construction or only a couple years old; the issues that you're seeing are all 'original' issues; they weren't created after the homes passed their final inspections by the city.

Click on any of the photos for a larger version.


The first thing that I typically inspect is the roof lines - I start doing this as I drive up to a house.  When valleys dump next to a wall, or even worse, in to the back side of brick veneer siding, you're asking for trouble.  These roofs are designed to fail.

Roof lines 2

Roof lines 3

Roof lines 41

Roof lines 1

I took the photo above at a house that was almost ten years old.  Thankfully there was a small portion of unfinished basement where I was able to pull the fiberglass insulation away from the rim space to confirm my suspicions; this had been leaking for a long time.  I really wanted to know what it looked like behind the siding... but my home inspections aren't invasive or destructive so I couldn't get all 'Mike Holmes' on them.

Roof lines damage


I've written several blogs about deck construction defects, but unfortunately handy homeowners and weekend warriors don't have the market cornered when it comes to shoddy workmanship.  Yes, I find plenty of deck defects even on new construction.

The most common deck defect that I find is improper nails used on joist hangers.  The nail I'm holding in the photo below isn't even half as long as it should be.  I seem to find this defect at just about every other deck inspection.

Decks - joist hanger nails

When special / non-standard joist hangers are needed, there's about a 20% chance that the installer will use whatever happens to be in their truck.  In other words, this is usually done right, but I still find a lot that are done wrong.  The joist hangers shown below were the wrong ones for the job and won't hold what they're supposed to.

Decks - joist hangers 2

Decks - joist hangers

Stairway stringers seem to be a hard thing to cut.

Decks - Steps

Deck stairways aren't difficult to attach properly, but some people sure make it look difficult.  Those long metal straps shown below aren't designed to do anything on a deck, and they're certainly not holding this stairway up.

Decks - Steps2

In the next two photos, the deck stairway is attached to a piece of siding trim with deck screws. This is ridiculously wrong.  Yikes.

Decks - steps3

Decks - steps31


I don't find a lot of electrical defects on new houses, but I do find them.  In the next two photos below, there are double tapped circuit breakers and double tapped neutral wires.  These breakers aren't designed to be double tapped, and neutral wires are never allowed to be double tapped.  I honestly think the electrical inspectors never even looked inside these panels, because these are blatant violations.  By the way, these weren't at the same properties.

Electrical - double tapped breakers

Electrical - double tapped neutrals

This next violation was more comical than anything else; it's no big deal, but someone obviously missed a day of training.

Electrical - wrong low voltage tap


There are two common defects that I find on new construction houses all the time - one is test plugs or test caps still in place at the plumbing vents.  Test caps need to be installed at plumbing vents so the drain, waste and vent system can be pressure tested.  After the pressure test is done, someone needs to get up on the roof and get rid of the caps or plugs, but this is often forgotten about.  This effectively disables the vents.

Plumbing - knockout in place
The other plumbing issue that I find all the time with new construction houses is missing access panels for bath tubs.  Either there is just no access provided, or someone installs a panel but never puts a hole in the wall.  I always chuckle when I remove an access panel and there is nothing behind it... but I'm no longer surprised.

Plumbing - missing access panel


I find a lot of the same HVAC installation defects over and over.  In the photo below, the AC units should have been at least 24" from each other.

HVAC - AC units too close
Venting for high efficiency furnaces is done wrong all the time.  I often find installation manuals that have never been opened.  In the photo below, the vent terminals for the furnace were installed wrong; the diagram below the photo came right out of the installation manual.

HVAC - wrong vent terminals
HVAC - wrong vent terminals 2

Any time the vent passes through an unconditioned space, it needs to be insulated.  This doesn't always happen.

HVAC - missing insulation on vent

HVAC - missing insulation on vent 2

Powervent water heaters have a huge list of things on the outside of the house that they can't terminate too close to; in the photo below, the vent terminates way too close to the gas meter.

HVAC - wrong vent terminal 3
HVAC - water heater vent terminal diagram

Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) have their own required clearances - for instance, the intake and exhaust need to be lilatorocated at least six feet from each other.  The HRV shown below has the intake and exhaust with about four feet of separation.

HVAC - HRV clearances
Most HRVs need to be balanced when they're installed; if there are no screws present to lock the dampers in place, it hasn't been balanced or someone wasted their time balancing it and it needs to be done again.

HVAC - HRV not balanced


Most structural problems manifest themselves years down the road from latent defects, but sometimes they're obvious.  In the photo below, someone took a sizable notch out of one of the beams.  If this was part of the original plans, great... but I'd bet anything it wasn't.

Framing - notched beam
Remember how I said that the wrong hangers are often used on decks because installers just don't have the proper hangers with them?  Sometimes this happens inside the house too.

Framing - wrong hanger

This next photo is one of my favorites; someone bent the heck out of this stairway stringer bracket and used it on a floor joist.  You can see that the bracket is actually splitting.  Just in case you needed a reminder, this is new construction.

Framing - torn hanger


As I've said in previous blogs, attics should always be inspected, whether the attic access panel has been 'sprayed shut' or not.    In the photo below, the roof vents weren't properly lined up with the holes in the roof sheathing, which significantly reduces the total amount of attic ventilation.

Attics - bad hole for roof vent
In the next photo, they completely forgot to install a roof vent; I'm glad I didn't put my foot through.

Attics - missing roof vent

Broken truss chord - I'm guessing too many bundles of shingles were unloaded in one place.  I can't be too critical of this because I've done it myself,  but the big difference for me is that I fixed it after I broke it.

Attics - broken truss chord 2

Same thing, different house.

Attics - Broken truss chord

This photo below shows a disconnected duct from a bathroom exhaust fan; just think about how much moisture would get pumped in to that attic over the years if it never got fixed.

Attics - loose bath fan duct

When truss manufacturers put green stickers on every truss saying "Permanent Lateral Bracing Required", I expect to see permanent lateral bracing installed.  This new construction house didn't have any.

Attics - permanent lateral bracing required

Finally, here's one of my favorites.  I took this photo at a five-year-old townhouse that had two separate attic areas.  One was insulated, one wasn't.  Wow.

Attics - missing insulation

I have a lot more photos that I could share, but hopefully I've made my point; just because a home is new doesn't mean it's right.  If you're buying a home, new or not, get a home inspection.  


Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 61 commentsReuben Saltzman • November 02 2010 05:58AM


Interesting photos and excellent advice.  Homes inspections are necessary for new construction too, no matter what the builder says!  You go Reuben, get all Mike Holmes on them!!!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) about 8 years ago

Holy Cow Reuben I see it but I don't believe it, where were the inspectors who gave the OK on some of these. Everyone should have a home inspection, new construction or not!! I don't think most people understand the new construction process with subs etc.

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) about 8 years ago

Reuben - Thanks for the post. It is amazing what the inspectors miss at each phase and how poor contruction can be. I always recommend an outside inspector with a new house and these pictures prove it!

Posted by K.C. McLaughlin, Realtor, e-PRO, Homes for Sale - Cary, Raleigh NC (RE/MAX United) about 8 years ago

Laura - thanks for taking the time to look through them, I know that was a lot of photos for a blog.  I'd love to start pulling siding off, but I don't think the owners would be too happy with me by the time I was done.

David - unfortunately, this stuff happens all over the country every day.  Municipal inspectors don't have the luxury of taking their sweet time like I do, so it's easy to understand how this stuff can be missed.

K.C. - thanks, I'm glad you always recommend these for the your clients.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago


You are so correct about the fact that, the more a builder insists that a home inspection is unnecessary, the more I know that one is. 

I like the practice of taking photos for home inspections. I actually have not found an inspector who does this in my area yet but I always bring my camera along to take my own photos of the key items. They are extremely helpful for being able to show the seller exactly what the defects are.


Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) about 8 years ago

Great post Reuben, I have been involve in both sides of new home sales, and always recommend to people buying a new home to have a professional home inspector accompany them on the PDI

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 8 years ago

Rueben, that was a very informative post and the pictures demonstrate so well.

Posted by Ellen Dittman, #1 Stop for NE FLA-JAX/OP 904.535.1199 (TEXT OK) r (Watson Realty Corp.) about 8 years ago

Gee, I don't know...  you sure you made your point?

That is instructive stuff Reubs and it is amazing to me how builders all over the country say that they are on site every day and the local jurisdictional authority is conducting its many inspections, so, HEY, you simply don't need a private home inspection!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Wowzers!!! Just when I thought that I'd seen it all. There are some bad builders out there and the American public needs to be aware that just because it is new, doesn't mean that it is perfect. Far from it...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Claudette - there are no home inspectors in your area that take photos?  Get out.  I thought this was just standard procedure for everyone!

Chris - absolutely.  I can't imagine buying a home without an inspection.

Ellen - thanks for wading through all the photos.

Jay - I think that the people saying they're on the job site every day would save face by saying they're on the job site most days.

Valerie - I think I would have walked away from a deal like that too.  There's just too much other stuff out there that won't be a headache.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Michael - don't you know it!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

It is good to have someone like yourself who is available to the customers in your area.

Thanks for the education.



Posted by Sonny Landau (St Louis Home Improvement and Painting Companies) about 8 years ago

Reuben, we are seeing more and more blogs about people cutting corners and not hiring an unbiased inspector.  They are shooting themselves in the foot if they don't.  It may cost them a tremendous amount more in the long run.

Posted by Don Spera, Serving York and Adams County, PA (CR Property Group, LLC) about 8 years ago

Ruben, these photos speak volumes and show the importance for new home inspections. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 8 years ago

Sonny - thanks for reading.

Don - penny wise and pound foolish, right?

Marc - thank you so much!  I know this was a longer post... but you should have seen it before I really 'trimmed the fat'.

Michael - I'm thinking I should do a post like this every year.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

I rarely have anyone that inspects a new house but I am sure if they would they would find something that would make them glad they had it inspected.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) about 8 years ago

This is why I laugh when people tell me that they don't need an inspection.  

Posted by James McGary (Agents Set Free, Inc) about 8 years ago

Reuben - this was a cunning array of stunts... should be ample evidence for anyone even remotely considering saving money by not using an inspector on new construction.

Bookmarked for those people.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 8 years ago

I always urge people to get an inspection on new construction as well as existing of course.  Even if the seller paid for an inspection themselves, I explain to the buyer that the inspection is the sellers, and that is the only person the inspector is obligated to.  At least that's true here in NC.

Posted by Dawn Crawley, Find Pinehurst Homes (Dawn Crawley Realty) about 8 years ago

Thanks Reben.  Nice collection of photos.  I draw plans for a custom builder here.  When I walk his homes it is more of an education than to find something wrong.  He is one of the few that are literally on site every day.

Posted by Loren Green, Phoenix Home Inspector & Designer (Greens Home Design L.L.C.) about 8 years ago

It can be amazing at times,can't it. I catch alot of issues during my Phase inspections,HUD/FHA inspections and also the new but never lived in (for years) homes in our area. Nice post.

Posted by Brian Persons, Certified Master Inspector (Brian Persons Front Range Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Reubem, thank you for the VERY informative post. I am going to keep this one on file!

Posted by Mark Montross, Listing and Buyer Specialist (Catamount Realty Group) about 8 years ago

Great blog and informative pictures. Thanks.

Posted by Christa Ross, Helping you buy and sell Pittsburgh's Best Homes (RE/MAX Select Realty - REALTOR and Green Homes Specialist) about 8 years ago


And that is not specific to your area....they just flat forget or do not bother to do the things they should have done.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 8 years ago

Hello Rueben, Excellent post and certainly one that is very useful for all real estate professionals to be aware of. Sadly, Buyers for new homes that are clueless about the importance of a professional contractors inspection end up with homes that have issues , many for the duration of their ownership. 

Posted by William Johnson, San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE (RE/MAX Associates) about 8 years ago

Good post and good point. Researching the builder is very important in buying anything new as well as getting the inspection you mentioned. Now that people can comment online about anyone or anything, it should help with the accountability process...I personally know a builder who will go right down to the itsy bitsy bothersome real or imagine complaint by any homeowner that purchases from him. Very hard to find but oh so worth it if you do. It just makes for a better home-buying experience...thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 8 years ago

Reuben, Great post ... scary pics. My current home is actually new construction and I regret not getting an inspector. There are many things as a new home owner I missed, exterior bedroom windows not caulked for example, that a professional would have seen. I think it provides a great peace of mind for any home owner.

Posted by Matthew Boswell, Mortgages - Mississauga, GTA (Mortgage Architects: Matthew Boswell, Mortgage Planner) about 8 years ago

Reuben - Wow is all I can say... As they say there is no perfect home and with new construction this is even scarier.... Wow again.... Great pictures and remind me not to show these houses to anyone... lol

Posted by Robert Hammerstein, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Keller Williams Valley Realty) about 8 years ago

Wow Reuban, I don't have to be an inspector to know some of those things are really bad.

Posted by Ann Cordes, Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream (Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco) about 8 years ago

Good post, thanks for information

Posted by Maria Borci, P.A., TRC, REO - Doral Pinecrest FL Real Esta (Colfax Realty Group) about 8 years ago

Very well done!  If you lived in my market you would definitely be on my list of recommended inspectors.  Thanks for taking the time to prepare this extenstive blog and share it with us.

Posted by Kate McQueen, Tailored service for your real estate needs! (CB&A Realtors) about 8 years ago

Reuben, Excellent information. It's bad enough that unusual stuff gets overlooked by inspectors and contractors, but the everyday and highlighted (like the green stickers on every truss!) things that are "overlooked" is incredible. Obviously a good home inspector is a MUST!  Bruce

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) about 8 years ago

Excellent post with lots of good information.  Ususally the buyer wants to save a little money and they trust the builder so they forgo the inspect.  But I think it's important.

Posted by Team Honeycutt (Allen Tate) about 8 years ago

Chuck - I don't think I've ever done an inspection on a new construction house and had a client feel like it wasn't worth it.  Of course, they could certainly be faking it...

James - if this is new construction, just imagine what we find on old houses.

Alan - thanks for bookmarking.

Dawn - as far as I know, it's the same here.  You also have no idea about the quality of the sellers inspection; I followed one inspector that had marked down the house as having copper wires when the whole house was wired with aluminum!

Loren - I bet you shuddered at the roof lines, huh?

Brian - It is amazing... and I'm glad it keeps me entertained.  Our jobs would be boring without all this stuff.

Mark - thanks, pass it along.

Christa - thanks for reading.

Steven - I'm glad (kind of) that your job is just as interesting.

William - that's exactly it.  I've found that some people are impossible to convince... but I'll still keep trying.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago


We always recommend our homeowner use a home inspector reguardless of the homes age. If they choose not to get an inspection, then they sign a form stating we advised them to and they chose not to. Its just to great a risk to not get a professional home inspection.


Posted by Brent & Deb Wells, Prosper TX (LivingWell Properties) about 8 years ago

Richie - that builder you speak of sounds like a great person. 

Matthew - in the unlikely event that a home inspector didn't find any problems, you'd be left with just that; peace of mind.

Robert - and this stuff isn't even unusual :)

Ann - yeah, lots of these items are pretty obvious, huh?

Maria - thanks for reading.

Kate - thanks for stopping by and reading, I know there was a lot of photos to scroll through.

Bruce - and if you can believe it, there are actually some home inspectors in my area that say attics don't need to be inspected on new construction homes.  

Allen - in my humble, biased opinion, a home inspection is the last place anyone should try to cut costs.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Brent - I think you're giving solid advice.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Great detail! I just love when my inspector is doing a good job. It just make my job much easier at a long run. 

Posted by Tean Wong (Centre Realty Group) about 8 years ago

Nice work.  I especially like the roof valley ones.

Posted by Steve (Real Estate Photography - about 8 years ago

Nice post, as a GC for most of my working years I enjoyed looking over the pictures.


Oh and for whats behind the siding that the valleys are leading to....we all know that answer and its not pretty.

Posted by David Niles (Niles Real Estate Investments about 8 years ago

Great post and advice. Just got back from an inspection this afternoon with similar problems.

Posted by Dustin McClure (Mossy Oak Properties Outdoor Realty) about 8 years ago

Tean - it does save time and hassle in the long run to take care of this stuff up front.

Steve - those are my favorites too.

David - ha!  You're sure right about that.

Dustin - thanks for reading.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Some great photos Reuben. You really did a super job with this post.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 8 years ago

This is very educational for buyers and sellers. It is interesting to see these photos especially when we sell in Manhattan New York condominiums don't usually see the roof and misc areas. Not to mention we do not have inspection here in Manhattan New York condos.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 8 years ago

James - thanks, I had fun putting this together.

Eileen - no inspections on condos?  Ever?  That's crazy.  I'll have to put together a montage of photos from condos some day.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Wood and vynil siding can't stand up to the heat here.  With stucco and tile roofs the crickets terminating at the corner of a wall are never a problem as long as they are flashed properly.

You are right some of those roof lines just left me scratching my head how they thought them up.

Posted by Loren Green, Phoenix Home Inspector & Designer (Greens Home Design L.L.C.) about 8 years ago

Thanks, Reuben!  We had ours privately inspected--I hope he did a thorough job.  Homeowners trust builders to do the right thing--obviously they don't always. 

Posted by Yolanda Hoversten, Broker - O Fallon, IL Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties) about 8 years ago

As a former GC and framing contractor, I enjoyed seeing these pix.  There is no lack of incompetence out there.

Posted by Mike Weber, 40+ years in Northern Colorado (Keller Williams Realty Northern Colorado) about 8 years ago

I liked this post and obviously you are a good inspector. I must argue however that the joist hanger nail you are holding in your fingers is exactly the right nail for use on a joist hanger. No longer nails are required if you nail the right number of anchor points in the hanger. Backnailing joists is also recommended but not always physically possible.

Posted by Robert Slick, NRBA, RDCPro, Trident/CCAR MLS (Beach and River Homes) about 8 years ago

Great post, pictures and info!  I encourage my clients buying new construction to get an inspection.  Many do not want to spend the money.  Compared to the price of the home, the cost of an inspection is nothing!

I am closing on a new home this week and the buyer did get an inspection and several important issues were found.  The closing got delayed a week in order to take care of the issues.  Buyer is now singing the praises of having a new home inspected.


Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) about 8 years ago

Loren - I was scratching my head at some of those houses too.

Yolanda - I'm sure they all try, but it's all about who's doing the work that particular day.

Mike - it's fun to marvel at this stuff, isn't it?

Robert - thanks for reading.  I get a lot of resistance about those joist hanger nails because there is such widespread belief that 1 1/2" nails are acceptable.  Check out my blog about this specific defect, and read through the comments left; one includes the comments from a Senior Territory Rep from Simpson Strong-Tie. 

Barbara - my experiences have been the same as yours; people are always glad they had an inspection done.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Reuben,  Your always bring a lot of good information to us.  I appreciate it. This is one reason why I track your blogs!

Posted by Stephanie Stringer, Mortgage Loan Originator (First Choice Loan Services NMLS#210764) about 8 years ago

Reuben, all of those crazy roof picture faux pas should have been corrected on the drafting table.  I agree with you about the hanger nails but why do those short ones come by the bag full in every box of hangers?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Stephanie - thank you for being a loyal reader.

Charles - no doubt, those roof lines are just design failures.  I don't think those short nails are packaged with joist hangers any more; if you find any, let me know about it :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Reuben, it has been 7 years since I ripped open a box of hangers :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

I don't think they made the nails that went in at a 45 degree angle 7 years ago :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Probably so :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Reuben, Interesting blog you linked regarding the Simpson hangers and nails.  I thought that the 1 1/2' 10D were OK for both the header and joist in that application, but see that is not the case for either on the LUS28.  10 years ago, I had to carry my Simpson spec book (and my TJI Spec book) around in my truck.  That data was not online, as far as I know.  Thanks for the education. 

Posted by Mike Weber, 40+ years in Northern Colorado (Keller Williams Realty Northern Colorado) about 8 years ago

Mike - I used to think those 1 1/2" nails were ok too.  I'm sure I've missed a lot of decks that had those nails, and I've even used them myself.  Glad to help.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Caveat emptor - buyer beware - is not always due to fraud but oversight.  Good info!

Posted by James Locklear, Social Media Training , Virtual Services, Search Engine Optimization Lattitude - SEOL (Online Marketing Advertising Consultant) about 8 years ago

James - you're exactly right.  In fact, I'd say a very small percentage of the problems are due to fraud.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago