Spring is coming, and with Spring, potential new home buyers come out of their winter slumber.

Even with thousands of existing homes for sale on the market, many home buyers consider the option of purchasing a newly constructed home. Some people don’t feel comfortable in an older home. In a new home, everything is new and may incorporate the latest technological advances and be built to the latest code requirements.

When buying a newly constructed home, there are many things to consider. Just because it’s new doesn’t always mean that it’s perfect. So with that in mind, it is important for buyers to do a final walk-through with the builder’s construction manager just before settlement to check that everything is in good order.

Shortly before settlement and when construction has been completed, a walk-through is scheduled. This is a meeting with your builder’s project manager to discuss everything about your new home. They will explain how all the systems work and where your water main and the main distribution panel for electricity are located. They will run appliances and talk with you about any special add-ons that you requested.

This is also an opportunity to inspect finishes. Sometimes this walk-through is called a “Blue-Tape” walk-through. This is where blue masking tape is used to identify imperfections in the drywall or paint/stain for the contractor to repair.

How To Prepare

Having your checklist and any change orders and concerns you had during the entire building process would be valuable. If your home inspection company performed a foundation or pre-drywall inspection, verification of those observations should be checked where possible.

A final walk-through can last up to 2 hours. You may notice a cracked tile, broken window, or cosmetic imperfections. Bring everything up to your project manager. You may note larger concerns such as a plumbing leak (look for leaks under sinks) or the HVAC system not working properly. For that and many more reasons, we always recommend having a qualified Home Inspector come along with you on the final walk-through. We see things that you may not and document them into a report for the builder to correct before you settle on the home.

How To Prepare For The Walk-Through

This is an exciting time. While you may think that this is a great time to bring children, parents, or friends to the walk-through, you’ll need to be able to focus and look at the home in a non-emotional, factual manner. So, the fewer people involved, the better.

Some suggested items for you to bring to the walk-through are a clipboard, pen/pencil, or your phone to take notes and pictures. Consider bringing a tape measure and any files or documents you have for the home. The builder will probably also bring along some blue tape for you to mark areas of concern, but bringing some sticky notes can be helpful to explain what you are asking about at certain locations.

If A Home Inspector Performs The Pre-Settlement Walk-Through Inspection

A good home inspection company will walk around the exterior, checking the ground levels at the foundation to make sure that water is being routed away from the foundation. We will check that the siding materials are all in good order and properly attached to the house.

A home inspector should not walk on the roof because the shingles need time to set. We will, however, look for loose or missing shingles from the ground or from the interior windows.

In the garage, we check the garage door opener(s), confirm that the electronic eyes are in place and that the garage floor is level, and where there are more than three stairs, we make sure handrails are securely in place. We will even check to see that the doorbell is working.

In the basement, the main distribution panel for electricity is opened, and breakers are checked. We verify that the proper gauge wire is attached to the right-sized breaker for the circuit and that all local municipality inspection stickers are either on the panel or will be made available to the buyer.

The foundation is inspected for uncommon cracks, support posts should be properly tied to the I-beam. Blocking and joists are inspected. Appliances such as the washer and dryer are run.

Upstairs, we will operate the microwave, the cooktop and oven, dishwasher and run water throughout the house, checking under sinks for leaks and double-checking that the hot is on the left and cold on the right. Windows are opened, closed, and locked, sliders and doors are checked to establish they operate freely. Handrails are checked to determine they are secure.

As we work our way through the house, the heating and air conditioning systems are checked to verify they are operating to the manufacturer’s recommendations. We’ll also check to ensure that every habitable room has a heat source (which is a requirement in Maryland). Electrical outlets are checked for proper polarity, GFCI outlets are tripped to confirm proper operation, and light switches and ceiling fans are operated.

In the attic, insulation values are checked, and trusses and roof sheathing is inspected. We inspect the roof vents and look to see if light is coming through the plumbing vents. If light is showing through, water can penetrate the roof into the attic space.

On our way back down through the house, having been running water and flushing toilets, we look at the ceilings for water leaks.

How Long Does it Take?

Plan on the whole process taking approximately 2 hours. Ask the builder who will make the noted repair items and when they will be completed. Most builders want your list within 1-2 hours after your walk-through so that contractors can “get-on-it”.

After You Move In

The builder may follow up with you 2-3 months after you move in and ask for a list of items you may have found after the move, so keep a running list.

When the first year of living in the home is up, the builder should come back to you asking for a “Punch-List” of items you have seen throughout the year.

This is a good time to call a well-qualified home inspector to evaluate the home and create a report for you to hand off to your builder. You may see nail pops or drywall seams or where the caulk has shrunk back. A home inspector will evaluate the heating and air conditioning systems and look for uncommon ground settlement or cracks in the foundation. They will look at the roof, and attic, check for any water issues and address any concerns that may have popped up over the year. Having a home inspection a month or two before your year is up is a good idea.

Highland Home Inspections performs foundation inspections, pre-drywall inspections, pre-settlement walk- throughs, and 1-year follow-up inspections on new construction.

If you have any questions about home inspections, please call to schedule an appointment. One of our ten fully licensed and ASHI certified inspectors (two Spanish speaking and one Portuguese speaking), would be glad to come out to look at your property and provide a report for you.

Call 410-772-9332 or reserve an appointment by going to

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Highland Home Inspections is a Veteran Owned local business with offices in Ellicott City and Prince Frederick, Maryland, and serves Central and Southern Maryland the Eastern Shore, Ocean City, and Fenwick Island, DE. Now also in Northern Virginia.