NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION ISSUES
Buying a new home is a great idea in theory. Most people buy a new home because they don’t want to deal with the problems that they think come with buying an older home.
But when they move in to their new home and realize it has been thrown together haphazardly and the builder has no interest in honoring their warranty claims, it can be incredibly frustrating, especially since most of us have a tremendous amount of our own money, wealth, or debt tied up in this new home.
New construction defects are more common than you might think. Builders subcontract out most of the work when it comes to large building sites. All that coordination can lead to missed items and construction defects.
Here are some common examples construction defects for new homes here in Colorado:
Inadequate grading and drainage
This can be a serious problem. Proper grading and drainage are a necessity to ensure that water does not seep around the foundation and cause water damage.
This is especially problematic if your home was constructed on “expansive soils.” The water not properly draining off your property can cause the soils under your home to heave or settle when exposed to water. This will cause damage to your foundation, concrete slabs, while will lead to damage to your interior. You really need to look out for negative drainage and uneven surfaces. Also, it’s important to make sure your gutters and downspouts are installed and working properly. You don’t want the builder to turn around and blame you for allowing water to infiltrate the soils near your foundation.
Doors or windows that don’t close properly
If they’re not installed properly, your doors or windows may have gaps, be crooked, or otherwise fail to close properly, even in a newly-built home. In some cases, like exterior doors or windows, this can be an expensive fix.
You should keep in mind that doors or windows that don’t open or close properly could be a sign that you have foundation movement or other structural movement. If you have problems opening doors and windows, and you also have cracking starting to appear in your drywall, you should pay close to attention whether your home might be experiencing movement. This may be a very expensive fix. You should consult a construction defect lawyer for advice.
Damages from expansive soils
Expansive soils, also known as soils with high shrink-swell potential, are common in Colorado.
These soils are fine-grained clay minerals. They have the unique ability to absorb relatively large volumes of water and therefore expand. The extent of expansion is influenced by the percentage and type of clay mineral present and the amount of water available for absorption.
When expansive soils are subject to a water, they can expand. Clay minerals with expansive properties are prone to an increase or decrease in volume depending upon the relative change in water content of the soil.
Over time and without due consideration for the shrink-swell potential of a soil, structures built on or in close proximity to expansive soils are prone to damage from movement as the water content of the soil increases or decreases. You do not want to be left holding the bag trying to repair a home damaged by expansive soils.
Cracks in concrete
Contractors love telling homeowners that concrete just cracks and not to worry about it.
Improperly-mixed concrete with high water content may develop shrinkage cracks over time, which may not be readily apparent at first glance. These cracks are usually not structural; however, it gives an entrance point for water to seep into the concrete. As the water freezes, it can widen these gaps and lead to sagging and heaving. These cracks should be fixed or at a minimum sealed when they are present in driveways and walkways.
Cracks in interior basement slabs or garage slabs should be inspected for potential movement of the slabs.
Wood flooring separation
Gaps in flooring material can be caused by improper installation, but also because of moisture fluctuations in the home – and large gaps may be difficult to fix. As the wood expands and contracts, movement occurs. The original cause may have been not allowing the wood flooring to acclimate to the environment prior to installation.
Fast moving production schedules can lead to short cuts being taken with the impact not seen for months after move in as the flooring material acclimates to the installed location.
It is no secret builders rush finishing homes. They are losing money on projects where they haven’t been paid yet. Getting that certificate of completion is gold to them.
You may expect that county inspectors will catch problems with construction, but they often do not.
Heating and cooling systems
Improperly installed heating and air conditioning can be costly. You need to try and get your builder to fix these issues for you while they are under warranty.