Unfortunately, in many areas of the United States, natural disasters are common. On the coastlines you have hurricanes, in the midwest there are tornadoes, and out west, you’ve got earthquakes. If a disaster were to occur, your home might sustain damage. Occasionally, these damages can be fixed, but sometimes you have to demolish and rebuild entirely.
With new homes in general, homeowners often skip getting a home inspection because they assume since it is new, that everything is good to go. However, with all new homes, you should still get a home inspection, especially if the home was built after a disaster.
Let’s take a look at why you should inspect your new home following a disaster and what the most important areas to check are.
Why Inspect Your New Home After a Disaster
Inspecting your new home after a disaster provides many benefits like double-checking contractor work, added safety, possible cost savings, and more.
FEMA Rebuilding Requirements
FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, offers public aid in the rebuilding process after disasters. In order to take advantage of this money, the homeowners and hired contractors must follow certain guidelines. You should always hire contractors that are familiar with the process and requirements if you plan to use any FEMA assistance; however, getting a new home inspection following the disaster allows you to have your home inspector verify that the contractor followed through and met the requirements in terms of the construction itself.
Check Regulated Work
Oftentimes, disasters uncover problems in a home that are public health concerns such as asbestos and mold. When these problems arise, the repairs are regulated and must follow specific procedures. Even though you have built a new home, if the problems from before are not disposed of properly, they can cause problems in the new home. For instance, some types of mold can be airborne or live in the soil. If it was not properly addressed, you could end up with mold in your new home. A home inspector would be able to check any hot spots and verify with contractors that everything was handled properly.
Verify Quality of Work
When disaster strikes, resources are spread thin. After all, there are only so many licensed contractors in every specialty. When these companies get overwhelmed with a lot of new builds and extensive repairs, the quality of work can slip because they are working too fast on too many projects. A home inspector will be able to point out any work that is not quality. This can include a whole host of things such as outlets that don’t work, fixtures not installed properly, or things that are not up to current building codes. Because home inspectors see so many homes at different stages, they notice things you might not even look for.
An Added Layer of Security
After a disaster, it is common to think about if it ever happens again. In coastal towns, hurricanes might happen every few years, so when you rebuild, it is always in the back of your mind that it could happen again. If you get your new home inspected after a disaster, you add an extra layer of security that your home is in the best shape it can be if a disaster were to happen again. The worst situation would be that something wasn’t properly done the first time and causes additional damage in a future disaster.
Give Homeowner’s Insurance Confidence
Insurance companies have to pay out a lot after a disaster. Because of this, they are likely to drop the coverage of many residents. Having a private home inspection can help homeowners get insurance coverage. By having an inspection, you are helping to prove that your home has less of a chance for damage because everything has been double-checked to be in the best possible shape.
City Inspectors Only Cover Bare Minimum
After any home is built, the city inspectors come to sign off. However, the city inspectors are only looking for the bare minimum requirements to meet building codes. Many cities don’t have well-developed building codes. To ensure that your home meets industry standards, a private home inspector is the only way to get a thorough inspection. It is especially important if you have installed uncommon features like a radiant heating system. Only a home inspector would know to look for radiant heat insulation in this case, not the city inspector.
Small Problems Turn Into Big Problems
Home inspectors find all of the small problems in a new home that get overlooked by the homeowner, city inspector, and contractors. Though they seem small and trivial, small problems can always turn into big ones. Having to do repairs and replacements is especially taxing after a disaster when finances are stretched thin.
Important Areas to Inspect
As you can see, getting a home inspection of your new home following a disaster is vital in making sure you are protected. However, there are a few spots that you should ensure the home inspector you hire checks.
Most new homes have vinyl windows which in themselves are durable and a good choice, but a lot of contractors forget to seal them, causing leaks and water damage in the future. The same goes for doors.
There are a lot of standard practices when it comes to electrical, so your home inspector should make sure there are no fire risks, that everything is wired properly, and secure.
Garage Including the Door
Always have your home inspector check the garage. They should ensure the garage door is in working order, too because garage door replacement costs can be a major hit to your wallet after a disaster.
The last thing you want in a new home is the plumbing to back up or not work. A home inspector should ensure the plumbing is installed properly and working.
Have your home inspector check what kind of insulation was used and how well it’s holding up. They should be knowledgeable about the subject including knowing the difference between R value vs U value for insulation which are two different ways of measuring a material’s thermal performance.
Homeowners should be aware that just because a house is new, doesn’t mean that it is built well. After a disaster, getting a new home inspection can be highly beneficial. Hire a home inspector to get peace of mind regarding your new home following a disaster.
Brian Jeffries is the content director for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.