Before you take possession of your new home, you and your builder will “walk through” the house to conduct a final inspection.
Often, a builder will use the walk-through to:
Inform buyers about the operation of the house’s components
Inform buyers of their responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep – Learning about maintenance and upkeep responsibilities is very important. Most new homes come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials. However, such warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failure to perform required maintenance. Many builders provide a booklet explaining common upkeep responsibilities and how to perform them.
Inform buyers on warranty coverage and procedures – Should a warranted problem arise after you move in, the builder is likely to have a set of warranty service procedures to follow. Except in emergencies, requests for service should be in writing. This is not because the builder is trying to be bureaucratic. Rather, it is to ensure that everyone clearly understands the service to be performed. The person receiving a service request is not likely to be the person performing the work, and you don’t want to rely on word of mouth for transmission of your service order. You should not expect a builder to rush out immediately for a problem such as a nail pop in your drywall. Such problems occur because of the natural settling of the house and are best addressed in one visit near the end of the first year.
To spot items that need to be corrected or adjusted – When inspecting the house, an effective way to do this is with a checklist. The list should include everything that needs attention, and you and your builder should agree to a timetable for repairs. Builders prefer to remedy problems before you move in, because it is easier for them to work in an empty house. Some items may have to be corrected after move-in. For instance, if your walk-through is in the winter, your builder may have to delay landscaping adjustments until spring.
It is important that you be very thorough and observant during the walk-through. Carefully examine all surfaces of counters, fixtures, floors and walls for possible damage. Sometimes, disputes arise because a buyer may discover a gouge in a counter top after move-in, and there is no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s workers or the buyer’s movers.
Many builders ask their buyers to sign a form at the walk-through stating that all surfaces have been inspected and that there was no damage other than what has been noted on the walk-through checklist. Ask a lot of questions during the walk-through and take notes on the answers.
Never be afraid to appear stupid by asking too many questions. That is how you learn. It is important to view the walk-through as a positive learning experience that will enhance the enjoyment of your home.