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Fit & Finish quality

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When Inspecting new construction I do bring to the attention of my clients certain kinds of cosmetic issues. For example uneven door margins or door margins too wide, warped doors or doors not closing flush or not latching properly, separations in jamb joints, cracks in the strike side edge about the strike bolt etc. The clients often ask for it to be included in the report.

In some cases the issues are covered in the NAHB Residential Construction Performance Guidelines but as anyone who has read them knows that their standards are rediculously relaxed where it comes to fit & finish.

For the sake of my clients I would like to know how I might write narrative that best addresses these issues so that they are not just swatted down as being cosmetic.

What suggestions can you give me?

Chris, Oregon

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I just cite the NAHB guidelines, if they apply, and leave it at that. It ultimately comes down to what the client has agreed to in the purchase and sale agreement. Many builders spell out what is and isn't acceptable and I'm usually not privy to that.

As for why I'd bother, if you bought a Mercedes you'd be ticked if there were a scratch on the fender, so I can certainly understand why cosmetic flaws in a new home will irk a customer. We know that no home is "perfect," but people have a right to expect their new home to be perfect and to complain when it isn't, thus forcing the builder to try and come as close to that ideal as possible.

It's pretty rare anymore, at least around here, to find a home where the final fit and finish is really good. There are those times though when I find almost flawless interiors, so I know that it's not an impossibly unrealistic goal.

Your mileage may vary.



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I explain to the buyer that although I will document these types of issues, it is ultimately their responsibility to pursue repairs from the builder. Knowing that, they can better prioritize which battles to fight.

Luckily in my parts, almost all the builders respond favorably to callbacks concerning adjustments and re-alignments, and other cosmetic issues, most likely because these items are easy and inexpensive to fix.

Haven’t had anyone complain about the little items, it’s the larger repairs that keep getting ignored or shelved. (We'll get there next week, yada, yada...)


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