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posted: 7/25/2014 12:01 AM

Inspection gives added protection to owners with builders' warranty

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Q. I'm buying a new home and was planning to hire a home inspector before closing escrow. Two of my friends in a similar community advised me to save my money because the builder provides a new home warranty and his crew will fix any defects we find on the final walk-through. Under these circumstances, is there any reason I should spend hundreds of dollars for an inspection?

A. Your friends are giving you some very uninformed advice, and here is why. Warranties on new homes provide free repair work for problems that are called to the attention of the builder. What many people do not realize is most construction defects are not apparent to the untrained eye and often are not in readily accessible places.

During a final walk-through or after you move in, you might notice obvious defects such as doors that rub, a sink drain that leaks, or an oven burner that does not light. In those cases, you would report the problem to the builder and expect repairs to be made. But many construction defects are not accessible or easily recognized.

For example, what about construction defects in the attic, such as a defective truss or sunlight shining through a gap in the roofing? What about faulty wiring in the electric panel, an ungrounded wall outlet, a drain connection that is not installed according to code, lack of required clearance at the furnace, an unsecured flue pipe at the water heater, lack of safety glass at a shower enclosure, insufficient insulation in the attic, etc.?

Such conditions are unlikely to be found during a final walk-through and will probably remain unnoticed by homeowners. Typically, such conditions remain undiscovered throughout the warranty period. Years later, when the property is resold (after the warranty has expired), the buyers' home inspector discovers the original construction defects. Then the buyers demands that you, the seller, pay for repairs.

This is why you should have an inspection now and take care of repairs immediately. A competent home inspector will find defects for the builder to repair. You can count on it.

Q. My parents have an access easement on their property, allowing neighbors to run their gas and water lines. Recently, one of the neighbors dug a ditch for a gas line several feet outside of the easement, and they did this without notifying my parents. Is it legal to have installed this gas line outside of the easement?

A. Laying the gas line outside the boundaries of the easement is the same as trespassing. An easement is a way of giving someone limited permission to use your property in a specifically defined location for a particular purpose. In this case, the neighbors were allowed to install a gas line on your parents' property, as long as it was within specifically designated boundaries. They were only permitted to use your parents' property according to those guidelines.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

© 2014, Action Coast Publishing

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