Does a Two to Five Year Old Home Need an Inspection? 

Colourful Townhouses

Today, consumers with good reason expect that all products are of better quality than they were a generation ago. Cars have become so reliable that 5 and 7 year warranties are not uncommon and our 3 year old solid state electronics like iPhones and televisions continue to work well even though the consumer is ready to ‘upgrade’.

Our home inspection office often gets calls from clients who seem to be unsure if they should have a home inspected as it is only two to five years old. The conflict they feel is that such a new home could not possibly have anything wrong with it, however, they are also making the most expensive purchase of their lives and think a home inspection may protect them. We believe it is as critical for home buyers to have a home inspection no matter if it is new, five years old, or 30 years old.

Building Settlement (Equalization of Building Forces)

Buildings settle and move as gravity, soil compression, water erosion, and building materials shrink to reach a balance of forces. Buildings will start to show settlement nearly immediately but will continue to settle even up to and after 5 years. Having a home inspection on a two, three, four, or five year old home will help you identify if any major structural problems have developed which could prepare you for potentially very expensive repairs and disruptions.

Poor Original Construction

No builder is perfect and mistakes are made on every home under construction (see our picture gallery of bad builder mistakes). Things as simple as concrete forming boards left in the wrong place could cause water ingress or cracking of structural concrete. Support posts in basements and crawl spaces may not be attached correctly, or windows may never have been caulked to be water tight. Having a home inspection done on your young home may reveal a major building construction mistake that can be fixed before it causes more expenses or life risk in the future.

Life Safety Concerns

Original construction deficiencies or changes from previous owners can present life safety concerns (see our picture gallery of life safety concerns). The galvanic reaction between sheet metal ducting touching a copper natural gas line could in time result in a gas leak in the home. Settlement of the home could cause gas exhaust vents on furnaces or boilers to open up and leak deadly gases into the home. Missing handrails on interior or exterior steps might have saved a major injury if they were in place. Having a home inspection on your two, three, four, or five year old home can help you make sure your home is safe and solid for your family.

Lack of Maintenance

Home owners in North America generally know less about maintaining homes today than they did a generation ago. Three reasons we see for these changes in the last 20 years are:

  • Immigration - For most of the 1900’s, immigrants to North America came from Europe which had very similar building practices to what we have here. Today, many immigrants come from Asia where building materials and methods are very different from ours and these home buyers are not familiar with maintaining our type of homes.
  • Specialization of Labour - More of our population is becoming educated as specialists in their field. While we have focused as a society on education and computer literacy, less people have skills in house maintenance.
  • Aging Population - The fastest growing demographic in North America are people over 100 years old and even the baby boomers are reaching retirement age. We have done many home inspections on homes with aging occupants where maintenance has fallen behind due to their physical ability to keep up with it.

If a new home is left unmaintained for a few seasons, there can be water damage from overflowing gutters, premature aging of building materials, and damage to the home from overgrown landscaping. Having a home inspector look at the state of maintenance in a two, three, four, or five year old home may help you prepare for additional expenses related to deferred maintenance.

Changes Made by Previous Owners

Changes made by bad handy people are a home inspectors worst nightmare (see our picture gallery on bad handy people work). Too many people who don’t know about plumbing, structural, and electrical are making unsafe changes to homes while adding bathrooms, kitchens, rental suites, or other ‘improvements’. These unsafe changes could put your two, three, four, or five year old home at risk of everything from burning to the ground from electrical fires to killing the occupants with deadly gases. A home inspector will look for signs of unsafe changes by bad handy people.

Final Thoughts

No home is perfect under the lens of a home inspection. Home inspectors are a very small but important expense in the purchase of a major real estate investment and could potentially save you thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs, or possibly even save your families life from unsafe conditions.

No matter if your home is new, just a few years old, or an old timer, always request the services of licensed home inspector before buying a home.

By James Bell - Owner/Operator of Solid State Inspections Inc.