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New Home Construction: Inspections and Punch Lists


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When a buyer works with a builder to plan the construction of new home, the buyer will have an opportunity to look at models, drawings, plans and specifications. The combination of these documents gives the buyer a general idea of what the home will eventually look like.

As the construction progresses, the idea takes form; however, until the process is complete and the buyer has actually walked through the completed structure, the buyer has no idea whether everything has been completed as imagined and in a workmanlike manner. If the buyer does not walk through the completed home and perform a detailed inspection before the closing takes place, the buyer will have waived a right to have the builder complete overlooked items in a workmanlike manner.

The Vision Takes Form

A buyer can get a good idea of how the construction is progressing by scheduling regular walk-throughs of the property. Usually, contractors will not allow a buyer to walk on the property on a whim, but a contractor will agree to walk-throughs that are scheduled to correspond with the completion of each phase of the project. At those times, the buyer will have an opportunity to make sure that the contractor's creation matches the progress that should be completed within that phase and that the progress corresponds to the buyer's vision.

Ask Questions and Check for Understanding

Walk-throughs are opportunities to ask questions about each phase of the construction project. Details should be noted, and completion should be documented. If payment is to be made upon the contractor's completion of a phase, the buyer should notify the person responsible for making the payment if the project is not proceeding according to schedule.

Inspections: Upholding Quality and Safety

Inspections during the construction of a new home occur at various stages to guarantee that everything aligns with building codes and industry standards. These inspections usually include:

  1. Foundation Inspection: Ensures the foundation meets structural requirements.

  2. Framing Inspection: Verifies that the framing, walls, and roof structure are appropriately built and secure.

  3. Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC Inspections: Confirms that these systems are installed correctly and adhere to safety standards.

  4. Insulation Inspection: Validates proper insulation installation for energy efficiency and comfort.

  5. Final Inspection: A comprehensive assessment before occupancy to ensure all components are in place and functioning as intended.

Importance of Inspections

  • Compliance: Adherence to local building codes and regulations is non-negotiable. Inspections validate compliance, mitigating potential legal issues.

  • Quality Assurance: Regular checks prevent errors, ensuring a structurally sound and safe home for the occupants.

  • Risk Mitigation: Identifying issues early reduces the likelihood of costly repairs or safety hazards post-construction.

Final Walk-through and Punch List

The final walk-through takes place just prior to closing. At that time, the contractor essentially is representing that he has completed the project according to the agreed-upon models, drawings, plans, and specifications. What remains is for the buyer to walk through the home and determine whether everything has, in fact, been completed, or whether there are items that remain undone or missing. Any missing or defective construction that the buyer can observe should be noted on a punch list.

A punch list is a document that identifies items that have been overlooked in the plans or that have to be remedied before the buyer determines that the home is acceptable. The inspection can be done by the buyer or by a trained home inspector. Either way, completion of a punch list is a form of insurance because it gives the contractor a set period of time within which to complete the items. The period is usually one that is reasonable, and it may be extended by agreement of the parties.

This list typically includes:

  1. Cosmetic Defects: Such as paint touch-ups, uneven surfaces, or minor finishings.

  2. Functional Fixes: Issues related to functionality, like malfunctioning switches or doors that don't close properly.

  3. Outstanding Tasks: Pending tasks that need completion before the home is considered move-in ready.

Purpose of Punch Lists

  • Completion Assurance: A punch list ensures that all tasks are completed to meet the agreed-upon standards before handing over the property to the homeowner.

  • Communication Tool: It serves as a clear guide for contractors to rectify any deficiencies, fostering accountability and transparency.

  • Customer Satisfaction: Addressing these minor issues demonstrates commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.


If the buyer does not fill out a punch list, the buyer asserts that he or she accepts the home as it has been tendered to him or her -- defects and all. In such case, the buyer waives his or her right to require the contractor to complete or remedy any overlooked items or faulty construction that are readily apparent. If a punch list has been completed, it will usually be made a part of the closing documents and will not merge into the deed at closing. If the contractor fails to complete the items on the punch list in a workmanlike manner and within the time specified, the buyer may file a lawsuit to compel completion or to obtain damages for the cost of having the work completed by another contractor.

Legal Implications and the Role of a Law Firm

While inspections and punch lists primarily focus on ensuring the quality and safety of the new home, they also hold legal significance. A law firm specializing in real estate or construction law plays a crucial role in:

  • Contract Review: Assisting clients in understanding their rights and obligations outlined in construction contracts, including provisions related to inspections and punch lists.

  • Dispute Resolution: Resolving conflicts that may arise between homeowners and builders regarding inspection outcomes, incomplete work, or quality standards.

  • Legal Compliance: Ensuring that all aspects of the construction process, including inspections and punch lists, adhere to relevant laws and regulations.


Inspections and punch lists are integral components of the new home construction process. They serve as safeguards, ensuring that the final product meets regulatory standards and fulfills the expectations of homeowners. Moreover, involving a law firm experienced in construction and real estate law provides invaluable support, offering guidance and legal assistance throughout the process.

By upholding rigorous inspection standards and diligently addressing punch list items, builders and homeowners can achieve the shared goal of a safe, high-quality, and satisfying new home.

*This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Individuals involved should consult with legal professionals for specific guidance tailored to their circumstances.


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