Builder Walkthrough FAQs

Do you usually test for radon during the builder walkthrough?

No. If you’re testing for radon on a new construction property, this is often done independently of the builder walkthrough.

Why? Because typically radon tests happen over several days. The person doing the radon test will set it up and then come back several days later to pick up the test and record the measurements.

Because it takes several days, we do not usually do radon testing during the builder walkthrough itself.

Do you usually test each electrical outlet at the builder walkthrough?

Some people will bring an electrical tester with them and test the outlets during their builder walkthrough but it is very rare to do so. In the dozens of builder walkthroughs I’ve personally done with clients, only two brought an electrical tester with them (both of them happened to be engineers by the way).

Do you usually test each toilet during a builder walkthrough?

Yes. I do recommend that clients flush each toilet during a builder walkthrough and check to make sure of three things:

  1. It flushes
  2. The tank refills then stops refilling
  3. There are no leaks where the toilet bowl attaches to the floor

The chance of finding something is small, but I still think it is worth doing.

Do you usually test the sprinkler system during the builder walkthrough?

If the builder is including landscaping and a sprinkler system with your new home purchase, it is often easy to see if the sprinkler is working by seeing if there are sections of grass that are dying. If you find that parts of the grass are yellowed and dead, it may become very clear that the sprinkler system is not working in that area.

For that reason, we don’t usually test the sprinkler system separately during the builder walkthrough.

Do you usually test each faucet during a builder walkthrough?

Yes. I think it is a good idea to test to make sure the cold water is working and then turn the cold water off and test to make sure that the hot water is working in each sink.

Do you usually inspect the roof on a builder walkthrough?

We’re not usually climbing up on the roof during the builder walkthrough. However, we are usually visually inspecting the roof from the ground as we walk around the outside. We are also visually inspecting the roof that is visible from each window in the home (I think many people miss this one). Often, this is done by looking out the bedroom and bathroom windows upstairs to look for any issues with the roof.

Do you walk around both the inside and the outside during the builder walkthrough?

Yes. Each builder (and it may even be that each supervisor) has a preference for which one you start with, but you usually do a complete walkthrough inside the property and outside the property.

Do you usually test the appliances during a builder walkthrough?

Often we do test the appliances during a builder walkthrough.

If the property comes with a refrigerator, we open it up and make sure that the refrigerator side is cool and open the freezer side to make sure it is cold.

If the property comes with a stove, we usually turn the oven on to make sure it gets hot (after double checking to make sure the instruction manual is removed from the oven and the storage area beneath the oven). We often turn on the burners and make sure those heat up as well.

If the property comes with a microwave, we often turn it on to test it, but it is really hard to tell if it is working so we’re really just testing to see if it turns on.

If the property comes with a dishwasher, we do usually turn that on and see if it runs. We’ve discovered on more than one occasion that the builder had not yet turned on the water to the dishwasher. It was an easy fix by turning on the water to the dishwasher from under the sink but we wouldn’t have known had we not tested it.

Do you usually look in the vents during a builder walkthrough?

In the past, I would never have thought to pull up the metal vent covers and look into the vents when buying new construction. That was until one of my clients moved into a new house only to find construction debris filling some of the vents. I have a feeling when the contractors were sweeping the floor during construction, they just swept it into the vent. That’s what it looked like.

So, now I recommend that clients do pull up the metal vent covers and look inside to make sure the vent is clear of debris.

Do you usually open, close and inspect each window during a builder walkthrough?

I do recommend that you open and close each window and look carefully at the window glass, window frame and for the weep holes (that allow the window to drain properly).

On several occasions I’ve found cracks in windows (some very small and some where the glass was completely shattered). The builder fixes those, but if we hadn’t seen it–especially for the very small cracks–I’m not 100% sure they would have done it after my buyer closed on the property.

I’ve also seen windows installed backwards so the weep holes were not facing out.

And finally, I’ve seen small chips on window frames that you’d need to have the window open and be looking for them to find them.

What if I miss something on the builder walkthrough that I discover after I move in?

It depends on the builder and what it is. Most builders include a warranty on homes and if it is a legitimate home warranty issue, they’ll usually fix it after you close. Just make a warranty claim.

If it is something small like they missed some paint inside a closet, most builders are going to be giving you a paint touch up kit (often in the basement, under the stairs or under the kitchen sink) and they’ll expect you to do that yourself.

How many builder walkthroughs are there when you’re buying a new home?

Each builder is a little bit different, but most have between one to three builder walkthroughs when you’re buying new construction.

Some builders offer a pre-drywall walk-through, but many do not. This series of FAQs addresses the final builder walk-through when the house is essentially complete.

Most builders offer a walkthrough about a week before closing, and then some follow this up with a final walkthrough on the day of closing to make sure all the work you expected to be done has been done.

Even if they do the final walkthrough just before closing — and not all builders do — most builders have written right into their sales contract that they have up to, and even after closing, to finish things on your punch-list (the list of items that everyone agreed will be done during your builder walkthrough).

Do you usually inspect the attic during a builder walkthrough?

No. I’ve actually never had a single person go up and look in the attic during a builder walkthrough.

I suppose you could inspect it if you wanted, but never had anyone do it.

Will the house be completed by the builder walkthrough?

How badly I want to say yes… the property will be completed by the time you do your builder walkthrough, but wow… it is shocking to me how frequently it has not been the case.

So, prepare yourself mentally that you may show up to a builder walkthrough and find out that there are… in my opinion… significant things that are still waiting to be done.

Will the house be totally clean and ready for move-in by the builder walkthrough?

Rarely will the house be totally clean and ready for move-in by the time you do your builder walkthrough. And, this sort of makes sense; if they plan to have contractors coming back in to fix stuff that you find on the walkthrough, often the builder will need to have the property cleaned again after that.

So, prepare yourself mentally that the property may be dirty when you do your walkthrough.

With some builders, I’d also prepare yourself mentally that the property may be dirty when you close. Not all builders have a cleaning crew go in and do a thorough cleaning of the property. In those cases, I’d call it broom-swept clean at best.

Will the house have a certificate of occupancy by the builder walkthrough?

Again, I’d love to be able to tell you yes, but unfortunately I’ve had several where the property did not have its final inspection by the city and subsequently did not have its final certificate of occupancy by the walkthrough. So prepare yourself mentally for that possibility.

Who is usually at the builder walkthrough?

It depends on your real estate agent. I’ve heard that many real estate agents do NOT attend the builder walkthroughs with their clients. I personally like to attend. I’ve also had a builder complain to me that I was getting a little crazy on the walkthroughs. Reading between the lines, they were suggesting that if I did not chill out a little, I would not be allowed to attend them anymore.

The builder typically does not want you to bring extended family with you on the walkthrough. I’d recommend you come with just the people on title to the property (not your kids as they can distract you from the job you’re trying to do).

From the builder’s team, it is usually the construction supervisor that supervised the construction of the home.

I could see a buyer bringing their inspector, but never actually had a buyer do that. Usually because I recommend they have their inspector go through the property about a month before their warranty expires and then submit all the things the inspector found as warranty claims.

So, to directly answer the question: it is usually just the buyers (not their kids or extended family), the real estate agent (especially if it is me) and the builder’s supervisor.

How long does the builder walkthrough take?

Most builders are blocking out an hour for their supervisors to do a walkthrough and most are done within an hour. The supervisors are often booked back to back one after another so it is hard to go over an hour.

I’ve personally done some where we’ve done four properties with the same buyer in about 2 hours and a really unusual case where a buyer took over 3 hours.

How far in advance of closing is the builder walkthrough?

It is often about a week before closing. Sometimes, in unusual circumstances, it is as late as the day before closing.

What is the purpose of a builder walkthrough?

It allows the buyer to walk through the property with a representative from the builder (usually the builder’s supervisor).

The supervisor explains to you how your home was built and shows how many of the major systems of the house work. They often cover a little bit of how the warranty works (although often the full warranty presentation is done at closing).

Then, as you walk through the property you can look for things about the property that may be wrong (missing or messy paint and drywall, issues with windows, carpet, appliances, fixtures, etc). You will often ask the builder’s representative if that is normal and if it is not, they will often either place blue painter’s tape on the issue to signal the contractors to fix it or write it down on a list of items that need to be addressed. The list of items that need to be addressed is usually called a punch list.

What should I expect at a builder walkthrough?

When you do a builder walkthrough, you should expect to meet the builder’s representative and get a tour of the house with an explanation of many of the home’s features.

You will also be able to look around and inspect the quality of the work that was done. If you have questions or concerns about the quality of the work, this would be your opportunity to have a discussion with the builder’s representative.

If you and the builder’s representative agree that something should be fixed the builder’s rep will add it to the punch list or mark it with blue painter’s tape.

Sometimes you’ll ask about something and you may be surprised to find out that the builder’s representative is unwilling (or unable) to fix it.

What is the role of my real estate agent during a builder walkthrough?

Many real estate agents will not show up to the builder walkthrough, so they really do not have an official role at the builder walkthrough.

With that being said, I prefer to accompany my buyers to their builder walkthroughs to support them through the process. It is not my role to be an inspector (nor am I qualified to even do that). But if I see something that looks funky, I will often ask my buyers how they feel about that and if they feel it is not OK, they can bring it to the attention of the builder’s representative.

Should I bring an inspector to my builder walkthrough?

Maybe. I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, having a professional that is trained to look for issues come to your builder walkthrough and assist with that seems like a really good idea.

On the other hand, the property has already been inspected by the city inspector and approved and we’ll be walking through the property as well. Plus, if your home has a warranty from the builder, you could have your inspector walk through the property about a month prior to your warranty expiring and have them do an inspection and submit any issues they find on a warranty claim. That’s what I typically recommend and probably why I’ve personally never had a client bring an inspector to a builder walkthrough.

Really, the choice is up to the buyer, but realize that some builders may require you to schedule a separate time for your inspector to inspect the property outside of the builder walkthrough. This is probably largely due to time considerations.

If I find things wrong with the house will they be fixed prior to closing?

How I’d like to be able to say yes to this. But, I can’t.

Often times, the builder’s representative will agree to the punch list of things that will be fixed on the property.  For many builders, it is written into the purchase contract that the builder has the right to complete punch list items after you close on the property.

So, mentally prepare yourself that these items may not be done for you prior to closing and, in some cases, you may even need to submit a warranty claim after closing to have them done, even if they were on the punch list.

Will they fix everything that I find wrong on the builder walkthrough?

No. I can think of countless examples of walking through a new construction property and a buyer noticing something they hadn’t seen before when they walked through a model of the property. Or they’ll notice something that is slightly different about their property because of the uniqueness of their particular house that was not what was shown in the model (for example… differences in the lot that was selected).

Just because a buyer notices something does not mean the builder’s representative will automatically agree to fix it. Often, we hear, “that’s the way it is.” This can be hard for a buyer who’s paying $350,000 or more for a brand new home that they expect to be perfect. So, prepare yourself mentally for that.

Now… with all that being said… most builder’s representatives upon seeing something that is wrong are happy to fix it. Again, only if it really is wrong.

What types of things am I likely to find wrong on the builder walkthrough?

I’ve seen a wide range, but the most common things are drywall imperfections, paint over-spray, or missing paint.

Sure, we’ve had things that were majorly wrong like significantly crooked walls, water leaks, damaged cabinets, scratched flooring, roof damage, etc. And these were all addressed by the builder.

Why do I do a final walkthrough if I am doing a builder walkthrough?

Many real estate agents will not do a final walkthrough just prior to closing. Call me paranoid, but before you sign a document agreeing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, I like to walk through the property to make sure it is still standing. So, if the builder is not offering a final walkthrough with their representative just prior to closing, I still like to do one with you to go through the property and take a look right before we close.

What if they don’t get the stuff on my list done before closing?

It really depends on what your purchase contract says. Some purchase contracts give the builder the right to complete punch list items for you after closing. Some don’t say anything about it at all and we’d need to have a conversation with the builder about it. Some say that it will be done prior to closing.

If it is not done prior to closing and you do have a warranty with the builder, sometimes you’ll need to make a warranty claim to have work done after you close.

Some buyers, often citing that it’s the principle, get worked up saying that I’ve already told them to fix it on the punch list… I shouldn’t have to make a warranty claim. Well… complain if you must… but go ahead and submit the warranty claim anyway to make sure that it gets done.

Do I need to be at the builder walkthrough?

Yes. As the buyer you should attend the builder walkthrough. Consider it your opportunity to get a tour of the property from the people that built it. They can explain to you how things were built and why and how you should operate it. You can also look around for things that might be wrong and ask them to correct it.

Can my real estate agent do the builder walkthrough for me?

No. Many real estate agents will not attend the builder walkthrough at all. I do like to attend them with my buyers, but I am not a replacement for you not attending.

What things can I ask to be done at a builder walkthrough?

Things that are wrong with the property.

It is common to point out paint issues and drywall issues. If you find other things that are wrong with the property, you should discuss those with the builder’s representative and see if they’re willing to fix them.

What if the builder doesn’t agree with something I don’t like on the builder walkthrough?

It depends on what your purchase contract says.

If your contract allows it, you probably have a couple options:

  1. You can move forward with the purchase.
  2. You can terminate your contract and not buy the property. Depending on what your contract says, you may forfeit your Earnest Money and anything you paid for upgrades. You are probably also out your appraisal cost.

In some purchase contracts, there is a “pain in the heinie” clause that states if you’re a “pain in the heinie” to the builder, the builder–at their option–can opt to refund your earnest money and cancel your contract. If you plan to become a “pain in the heinie” to see if the builder will voluntarily give you your earnest money back over this issue, I’d strongly advise you to talk to your attorney first and get legal advice.

How do I mark paint and drywall touch up during a builder walkthrough?

Usually the builder’s representative will have blue painter’s tape to mark stuff you point out to them that they’re agreeing to fix.

How will I know if all the blue tape items get done?

Items that are written down on the punch list are easy to verify. Most blue tape items are not written down though, so there is not a written record of them.

There have been times where builders have removed some of the blue tape without completing the repair. If this is a concern, I would recommend going back through after your walkthrough is complete to take pictures.

Please don’t take photos during the walkthrough though, as it will slow down the process and might distract you from identifying items that need to be repaired. Also, most supers will not want you to take photos as they will assure you that these items will get taken care of. So, if you are concerned about your blue tape items, it is best to just go back at the end of your walkthrough to take photos for your own records.

Should I schedule time off from work for a builder walkthrough?

Yes… I would plan for it to take about an hour for most builder walkthroughs. You can verify with me for your particular purchase if I am representing you.

What is the equivalent of a builder walkthrough for resale properties?

Not sure there is an exact equivalent, but probably the closest thing is the inspection period where you have the property inspected with you and your property inspector present.

Do you recommend inspecting the window blinds during builder walkthrough?

Yes… open and close them and pull them up and put them back down.

Do you recommend testing the ceiling fans during builder walkthrough?

Yes… I recommend you turn them on and adjust the speed.

Should I hire an HVAC company to inspect the HVAC system?

I have never had a client do this, but it would be one way to confirm that everything is operating correctly. You can ask the super to show you how the thermostat operates and depending on the time of year, turn on the heat and/or the AC. During the winter, they may not be able to run the AC though.

Another thing to consider is that many builders will run the furnace during construction and may get some drywall dust inside of the furnace. You can ask the super if they’re willing to clean the inside of the furnace. My experience is that most won’t do it or will do a less than ideal job cleaning it. So, in many cases, I think it is a worthwhile expense to hire a duct cleaning company to do a thorough cleaning of your ducts and furnace after you take possession.

Will I get a copy of the punch list at the builder walkthrough?

Yes, usually the builder’s representative will give you a copy of the punch list as soon as you sign it.

If I am with you, I will often take a photo of it with my phone and save that image to your file that we have for your purchase.

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