Common Defect in New Construction Homes

New Construction Home Inspections

As a home inspector, I often find a common defect in New Construction Homes.

My clients typically hire me before they purchase the new construction home to make sure everything is OK before settlement. Other times, they call me out before the one year home warranty period is up with their builder.  To some, a home inspection on a new construction home feels like a formality.  It’s new construction which means everything is…. new.  What can possibly be wrong with it?

There is one rather large common defect I find during New Construction Home Inspections. Very often, the home builder is not aware of this defect.  And buyers aren’t typically trained to identify this issue and it’s rather important!


Common Defect found in New Construction Homes

One of the larger issues I find during New Construction Home Inspections deals with framing alterations made after the framing contractor has finished.

Everything the framing contractor done could have been 100% fine and passed inspection, but then another contractor comes along.  They make a change unbeknownst to the framer and inspector.  Many times, these alterations are made by the HVAC contractor, plumber or electrician and the alterations are not properly reinforced.  This can increase the risk of structural failure.

These framing alterations may consist of cutting or removing structural components from the framing structure to fit HVAC ducting, plumbing or electrical components.  When the next inspector is coming through, he knows the framing inspection already passed.  He is now only looking at the work that was done next- HVAC, plumbing and/or electrical.


Examples of Framing Defects found in New Construction Homes

Here are 3 examples from recent New Construction Home Inspections I did in Malvern, Collegeville and Phoenixville:


Superior Wall Foundation

framing defect new construction homes

picture 1

In the first example (picture 1), I was doing a home inspection in Malvern, PA.  The altered framing is used to provide support for the foundation wall.

The type of foundation used in this house is a “Superior Wall” foundation. This type of concrete foundation wall is manufactured off site under perfect conditions.  It’s brought to the build site after it is fully cured.   It is stronger than a traditional poured concrete wall. Generally, there are few defects in the Superior Wall because it’s manufactured off site.


Superior Wall framing defect

Picture 2

One of the build requirements for this type of foundation wall is support at the top of the foundation wall that prevents soil on the outside of the house from tipping the top of the foundation wall into the basement.

The floor framing that runs perpendicular to the foundation walls prevents this type of movement at two of the foundation walls. The other two foundation walls that are parallel to the floor framing should be supported with what is called solid blocking.  This runs between the first 3 sets of floor joists as seen in picture 1.

Unfortunately, the HVAC contractor removed the solid blocking in multiple locations to run the HVAC ducting (picture 2). The foundation wall is not properly supported in these locations.  Therefore, the foundation is vulnerable to future movement.


I-Joist Framing

I-Joist Framing Defect

Picture 3

The second example of an altered framing defect I found was during a New Home Construction Home Inspection in Collegeville, PA.  This one deals with engineered I-joist framing.

Engineered I-joist framing is a type of floor joist framing that can span longer distances.  It has less floor deflection than standard 2x floor framing. The engineered I-joist framing is very strong in bending loads.  However, it does not withstand point loads nearly as well as a standard floor joist. Because of this, the I-joist framing should be reinforced with either squash blocks or solid blocking at any load bearing points.  This is generally when the I-joist framing is installed on top of a beam.

Again, in this instance, the HVAC contractor removed the solid blocking above the beam and between the I-joists where he wanted to run the HVAC ducting.  Unfortunately, he did not reinforce the I-joist framing in these altered locations (see picture 3).

The I-joist framing is vulnerable to damage from crushing loads in these locations.


Engineered Framing

engineered framing defect

picture 4

framing defect new construction homes

picture 5

I also have found cut framing that has not been properly reinforced during new construction inspections.

In instances I found during two home inspections in Phoenixville, the truss framing was cut where the HVAC contractor ran a duct through the floor truss framing (see picture 4). This truss will not properly support the flooring above and is vulnerable to future damage or failure.

Picture 5 shows an engineered I-joist that was cut, but not properly headed off where the HVAC contractor ran a duct through the flooring. This joist also will not properly support the flooring.  It’s vulnerable to future damage or failure.



How can this happen and not be caught by the builder?

Yes, the builder has certain inspections to pass.  Usually there’s an inspection for the foundation pouring and then comes the inspection for framing.  Well, everything was fine for the framing inspection.  No defects were noted.  Subsequently, in comes the HVAC company who then CHANGES the framing integrity to meet their needs.  The framing inspector isn’t coming back out because they already did their required inspection.  And the inspector doing the mechanical inspection for the HVAC system is not looking for framing defects.  That’s not part of the mechanical inspection!  The inspector will probably not notice the framing was altered.  Unfortunately, this defect will go unchecked.


What can be done about this?

Most of these framing alterations are not difficult to correct.  By obtaining a home inspection on a New Construction Home, your home inspector can identify this framing defect and other issues.  Then, you can provide the builder with the home inspection report and ask the builder to correct any deficiencies.  Identify and correct these deficiencies early before they cause future damage to the home!  Builders are almost always agreeable to making these changes.  They want to protect the warranty on the home and reduce the risk of other larger issues.

You can find more information on New Home Construction Inspections by contacting us with questions or Schedule a Home Inspection today!  You can also visit the Pennsylvania Builders Association website to get more information.



Reading home inspector

Home Inspector in Malvern, PA

David Artigliere is a Home Inspector with ARTI Home Inspections LLC.

He has been in business since 2001 and does Residential and Commercial Home Inspections, New Home Construction Inspections, Environmental Testing, and Consultations.