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I have a request for information from a previous client. They agreed to allow me to post their questions here for discussion. Please share you wisdom and knowledge and provide referrals if you like. The persons making the inquiry will be checking in on this thread.

Their inquiry is as follows.

I wanted to pick your brain about new home construction inspection.

My lawyer who handled my closing recommended someone named Bill Peed who lives in the Milton area. He is charging $75.00 per visit which would include a write up. He would inspect after each draft (6-8) My questions are: Is that about the right price? Do you know anyone who inspects in Delaware? Thanks for any input you might have in this matter.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

I have a request for information from a previous client. They agreed to allow me to post their questions here for discussion. Please share you wisdom and knowledge and provide referrals if you like. The persons making the inquiry will be checking in on this thread.

Their inquiry is as follows.

I wanted to pick your brain about new home construction inspection.

My lawyer who handled my closing recommended someone named Bill Peed who lives in the Milton area. He is charging $75.00 per visit which would include a write up. He would inspect after each draft (6-8) My questions are: Is that about the right price? Do you know anyone who inspects in Delaware? Thanks for any input you might have in this matter.

I'd recommend three inspections: pre-backfill, pre-drywall, and final. More inspections of the process might be good for the bank -- to ensure that the job is actually progressing -- but it won't be very efficient. For instance, there isn't much point in inspecting the framing till the plumbers & electricians have finished molesting it. If you really want more inspections, add one at the pre-insulation stage.

I also suggest that you hire the inspector to reveiw your plans and

to meet with you & your general contractor pre-construction to identify problem areas early on. This meeting could save you a huge amount of money and make everyone's life easier later on.

I happen to know an excellent inspector who serves Delaware. His name is JD Grewell. His phone number is 301 588-1818.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I'd add a footing inspection (to see the rubber capillary break in the footing) before foundation installation. I'd also want to see the drain tile before the stone went in, and I'd want to witness the backfill operation. (Reason being, I've inspected a couple screwed up drain tile jobs recently, and I've developed a phobia about drain tile.)

I like seeing the insulation installed also; there's a lot of details that matter.

I'm also kind of a bug on window installation. I like to be there and watch them do a couple, and then I check them out meticulously after they're all in.

Roofing, siding, and waterproofing details all deserve a couple visits each depending on the complexity of the house.

Mechanical is relatively straight forward. I usually want to talk to the HVAC guy before they begin to see where they're putting the supplies and returns, and to check the general duct layout.

After that, what Jim said.

$75 a visit might be OK for some visits, not enough for others. If folks don't understand how measly the inspection fees are for this sort of work and what a tiny proportion of the total costs it represents, and then they want to shave pennies on a couple visits, I wouldn't even bother because they don't understand what I'm providing.

The new houses I'm "watching" now are both going to be approx. $2200-2500 worth of inspections before they're all through. I take lots of photos to document the entire process. I've got approx. 2 dozen shots of just the drain tile on one house. Sounds goofy, but it's really nice having an extremely detailed photo record of construction.

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In addition to plans, I recommend that clients get a written construction specification.

Items such as finishes, allowances, materials, schedules (payment and construction), insurance, and allowing access to the construction site should all be agreed upon.

The ability to discuss and locate electric boxes, HVAC registers, approval of trim details prior to install, etc.. should be allowed.

Lead time for decisions should also be discussed. You don't want your client to be asked for instant decisions on important items.

We do new construction "Administration" and the visits are determined by a schedule of job meetings or at benchmark completion of work phases.

The number of required visits are also directly related to the quality of the builder and the relationship with the future homeowner. If things go wrong, we may be needed more often.

I charge by the hour for my time and I tell my clients to budget about 1-2 percent of the cost of the construction for us to work as their advocate during the construction. When the work is done and after they see how much can go wrong during construction, my clients tell me that it was a good investment to have someone work on their behalf.

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Those are really good recommendations and observations.

Initially, the builders on my projects wanted a specific schedule of visits. I told them the schedule would be whenever I felt I should be there. If the inspector/administrator is going to have any value, they need to have free access, more or less.

Don't get locked into some builders preconceived notion of when and what we should inspect.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

My lawyer who handled my closing recommended someone named Bill Peed who lives in the Milton area. He is charging $75.00 per visit which would include a write up. He would inspect after each draft (6-8) My questions are: Is that about the right price? Do you know anyone who inspects in Delaware? Thanks for any input you might have in this matter.

Just my humble opinion/experience, but I say that's way too cheap. IMHO, each trip should cost about the same as a full HI.

I wouldn't let a $75 guy go near my new house. But that's just me.

WJ

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Originally posted by StevenT

Flashing and sealing before the siding or roofing goes on.

If EIFS prior to each phase, prior to plans being accepted and a long meeting with the installer before he even starts.

We do not use EIFS on wood framed construction. Too much bad history. Old fashioned stucco is specified when stucco is used. Also, last I heard, there is an EIFS exclusion on new home warranties in NJ (this was not verified, may just be "Urban Legend").

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Steve, When you say "We do not use EIFS on wood...." Do you mean You do not use EIFS on wood? Because, I see it all the time.

As far as inspecting flashing, that should be done regardless of the type of cladding (and lets not forget roofing) being used. Some folks don't realize, but although there are problems directly associated with EIFS, many of the same problems that cause grief to EIFS, are also problems to ANY other cladding.

In New Jersey, as of November 6, 2008 any newly permitted starts involving EIFS must be inspected by a (as of Nov. 6, 2008) state certified EIFS inspector. This certification is considered a specialty certification. It is independant of a Home Inspector license, the requirements are separate that those of a Home inspector.

As I suggested to a building dept official, the only way it will work is if they get the architects involved. Specifications and details, including manufacturers specifications must be included in the approved plans. There must be phased inspections.

The name of the inspector is required prior to plans being approved. But if they are goingto wait for the job to be completed, and then expect it to pass inspection... , well there are going to be alot of problems.

I happen to believe that EIFS is here to stay. The idea of "outsulation" it great! I believe the problem with EIFS is that it is too good... and is too unforgiving. The product needs some fine tuning that will not only allow it to drain, but will also allow it to beath. By the way, I have some simple ideas that would solve those issues.

The other issue that amazes me is that although the manufacturers came up with the "Water Managed" system over ten years ago, I must tell you that 99.999% of the residential installations that I see... even drive bys,let alone my own inspections... even the most expensive homes do not have water managed systems. They are still installing the product the same way that caused all of the "infamous" damage.

I think it is a great thing that the AHJs are beginning to get involved. Obviously is is the only way that folks MIGHT start using the product correctly. Until then, I wouldn't want it on my doghouse.

But... opps, the price is gonna skyrocket.

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Steve,

Yes, I mean our office (as Architects) does not specify EIFS on wood framing because of the history of problems and the "Water Management" system for EIFS requires someone to actually read the directions, understand the system, and install it properly. As you have stated, a properly installed EIFS job is the exception. It is not worth the risk.

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Originally posted by Steven Hockstein

Steve,

Yes, I mean our office (as Architects) does not specify EIFS on wood framing because of the history of problems and the "Water Management" system for EIFS requires someone to actually read the directions, understand the system, and install it properly. As you have stated, a properly installed EIFS job is the exception. It is not worth the risk.

Truer words were never spoken.

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With 6-8 "Drafts" this sounds more like "Draw" inspections and not "Phase" inspections. At $75 I would say that is in line for a residental draw inspection. I have a few ongoing now that I'm doing both the draw and phase inspections. It makes it really simple when you can get both as you end up seeing more as the home is being built.

When I do the phase inspection that fee is based on my time (hourly rate) on the site. Most likely it will be about an hour compared to a draw inspection that takes about 10 minutes.

I'm just finishing up an 18 month project that has had 17 draws and 3 phase inspections during that time frame. The owners have invested right at $2,700 for my service on this project. From this job I have also received 3 additional referrals for similar type homes that are being built.

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