A final walkthrough for your dream home plan is one of the most important parts of any construction project. It's an opportunity to make sure everything has been completed according to plan and that there are no lingering issues or oversights. However, it can also be a daunting task if you're not well prepared for it. The cost to build a custom home can be the most expensive thing you ever buy so it's worth taking to time to ensure that you get what you paid for! To help you with this process, we've compiled some helpful tips and tricks for conducting your final walkthrough inspection.
What is the Final Walkthrough?
This is a guided tour of your completed home before the general contractor packs up his tools and receives final payment. It's the last opportunity to request fixes before you move on to your final loan closing. It is not an opportunity to make cosmetic changes like paint color, or fixtures but rather a time to call out poor workmanship or improper installations.
When does it happen?
Your contractor will move to schedule this as soon as they anticipate being done. They don't want to waste time so they can move onto the next project. They will notify you and your bank so that the closing can be scheduled shortly thereafter.
Should I hire a home inspector?
Maybe. It is not a bad idea to hire a home inspector. If you choose not to get an inspector then make sure you come to the final walkthrough armed with all the knowledge you need to succeed. Read the list below to get a sense of whether or not you'd be comfortable evaluating the whole checklist. There are various pros and cons.
The inspector adds credibility to your concerns. This makes it hard for your GC to argue about whether certain things were built correctly.
An extra pair of eyes is very helpful. While you are free to take as long as you want during the inspection, it'd sometimes hard to focus on everything and look everywhere.
Your inspector brings a ladder which helps with inspecting the roof (the most important part of the house!)
It will cost you about $300-600, depending on the size of your house.
A home inspection is not a guarantee that everything is 100% perfect and is not backed by anything legal.
What to Bring:
Binoculars (to check out roof)
Clipboard and pencil
A copy of the material and installation specification as part of your construction contract
Digital infrared thermometer
Electrical plug tester
Not all of these may be applicable.
☐ Grass (Is the grass or sod growing properly, are there are rough or dead patches)
☐ Planting (Are all specified plants in place; do they all look alive)
☐ Irrigation (Check for functionality or all sprinkler heads)
☐ Decks & Patios (Check for specified materials, fasteners; look underneath at framing and foundation)
☐ Driveway (Check drainage; check cracks and expansion joints)
☐ Roof (do any shingles look off; are valleys and penetrations properly flashed; drip edges installed)
☐ Trim (ensure all trim is well caulked and caulk has properly cured) ☐ Siding (ensure all is even; fasteners are hidden; paint is evenly coated and adhered properly) ☐ Flashing (ensure that windows, doors show flashing and drip edges) ☐ Masonry (even rows, flashing at bottom courses, weep holes installed) ☐ Gutters & Downspouts ( installed under drip edge in all specified locations; outfall away from house)
☐ Drainage (lot graded away from house for first 10ft) ☐ Hose Spigots (installed and functional)
☐ Hardscaping (installed as specified, no gaps; sloped to drain properly) ☐ Exterior lighting (test functionality; ☐ Exterior power outlets (all in proper enclosures with ground fault protection if specified by code)
☐ Doors & Windows (installed with specified hardware, screens intact; fully open, close, lock & unlock to test functionality; check edges when closed for gaps) ☐ Drywall (check for screw pops, poorly taped seams, uneven paint coverage, signs of water damage)
☐ Floor & tile (check for damaged materials, mistakes in the pattern, 100% grout coverage, 100% caulk coverage, wrinkles in carpeting, transition strips should be installed between all different materials) ☐ Millwork (check all trim for clean cuts, caulk, and paint) ☐ Plumbing fixtures (installed and functional (check both hot and cold water, pressure, all valves and drains; does the toilet wobble?)
☐ Appliances (test all kitchen appliances, turn all burners, oven, microwave, garbage disposal, refrigerator, ice maker, dishwasher, laundry machines; check for cosmetic dings and scratches) ☐ Casework (open/close all cabinets and drawers; check for cosmetic defects; ensure specified hardware is properly installed and tight)
☐ Electric panel (open panel, check for proper amperage, clean connections, ground installed properly)
☐ HVAC (test heating and cooling modes; use digital infrared thermometer to test register temperatures in each room, test condensate drain)
☐ Ductwork (air conditioning ductwork should be insulated, check for air leaks)
☐ Lighting (test each switch, dimmers, timers)
☐ Smart Home (test all smart tech (doorbells, thermostats, shades, security system, locks etc.)
☐ Outlets (use your plug tester for each outlet; verify that ground fault outlets meet code in wet locations)
☐ Attic (check for properly install ridge venting, measure for specified insulation thickness; signs of water damage from roof leak
☐ Basement (check walls for moisture and cracks, test sump pump, test any floor drains)
When you find problems:
Take a picture and write it down. After the final walkthrough is complete you will have to deliver this itemized punch-list to the GC so that they can rectify the issues. They may push back on some issues so in some cases it's a matter of picking your battles. Some minor cosmetic defects are normal and are not worth losing sleep over but other things may be very costly to fix sop we recommend focusing on those. Be aware, that if the issues are serious enough it may delay closing. You can also negotiate holding back some money in escrow until after closing to ensure that the problems are properly fixed.
This is your last opportunity to call out poor workmanship or improper installations before you move on to the final loan closing. Bring a list of all items that need attention so you can get them fixed prior to moving in and living with these issues for years. It's time to bring this up now - before you're stuck with an inconvenience forever!