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Failed window seals: A common cause of foggy glass

One of the most common window and door issues that comes up during a home inspection is fogged glass, more commonly known as a broken seal. For a nice description of exactly what causes a broken seal, head on over to the Family Handyman.

Interestingly enough, identifying failed seals on insulated glass is something that is specifically excluded by home inspection standards of practice. Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the photo below. Two of these four window panes have badly fogged glass.

Fogged windows

When an insulated glass seal fails, there are three things you might see when looking through the glass: nothing different at all, condensation or dirty/hazy glass. When a seal initially fails, nothing dramatic happens, and there is no visible evidence of a failed seal. A desiccant around the perimeter of the glass unit will help to prevent moisture in the air from filling the space between the two pieces of glass. This will keep the glass looking just fine, at least for a while. This is why home inspection standards of practice exclude the identification of failed seals. There is oftentimes just no way to know.

Given enough time, moist air begins to fill the space between the two formerly-sealed pieces of glass. When temperatures remain fairly constant, you won't notice this moisture in the glass. Only after there has been a fairly rapid change in temperature, either indoors or outdoors, will you see any evidence of a failed seal. This starts out as condensation between the two panes of glass. The photo below shows a nice example of a window on my own home that just this fall started showing evidence of a failed seal (lucky me). This window looks perfectly fine most of the time, but just a few weeks ago I noticed a nice little band of condensate between the pieces of glass.

Fogged glass, early failure

This condensate was only there for a few hours, and I haven't seen it show up again since, but I'm sure it will keep coming back more and more frequently, and the amount of condensate, or fog, will only grow. After this has happened enough times, a mineral deposit gets left on the glass, making it look dirty all the time, even when there is no condensate present. The photo below shows an example of another window in my house with some faint, annoying deposits. I added a few arrows to the image to highlight this area.

Fogged glass with mineral deposits

When insect screens are present or when the glass is dirty, fogged glass like this may not be visible. That's another reason home inspection standards of practice don't require identification of failed seals. When I inspect a home with numerous panes of fogged glass, I often tell my clients that while I may identify many locations of fogged glass, I'm probably not catching every one, especially if the windows aren't perfectly clean.

Once a window or door has had a failed seal for several years, the glass gets dirty enough to the point where it's completely obvious all the time, and it becomes quite bothersome to look through the fogged glass. I had a few panes of fogged glass at my house when I moved in, but that number has grown from a "few" to a "whole bunch" in the past several years. My wife and I couldn't take it any more, so we decided to have the windows repaired.

I'll share the repair process in next week's blog post.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections


Why new construction houses need to be inspected by private home inspectors

I've compiled new-construction defect photos from the past six years into this one gigantic blog post. If you're in the market for a new home and you're not sure if a home inspection is worth doing, please look through these photos. If you're a real estate agent who isn't sold on the value of a home inspection on a new home, please look through these photos. If these don't convince you, nothing will.  hese were all taken during pre-drywall inspections, new construction inspections, or one-year warranty inspections. If you own a new home and didn't have it inspected before you bought it, consider having it inspected before your one-year warranty is up.

Builders should welcome the opportunity to have their homes inspected by private home inspectors; it's a chance for construction errors to be addressed before they become major problems. It doesn't matter how thorough the municipal inspector is; mistakes are still missed.

This is not meant as a knock against builders, municipal inspectors, or any tradespeople. This is simply meant to let new home buyers know that "new" does not mean "perfect".

Click on any of the images below for a large version.

Water Management

A common design for new houses is to concentrate rain water from several roof surfaces to a small area, which greatly increases the potential for foundation and basement water problems. I marked up the images from some recent new construction inspections to help highlight where a lot of water gets concentrated.

Water concentrated to one spot 3

Water concentrated to one spot 4

Water concentrated to one spot 5

Water concentrated to one spot 2

Exterior - water management with no gutters

In the last image shown above, all of the water from the upper roof surfaces dumps onto the lower roof, and from there, it dumps onto the corner of the deck right by the patio door. My company does a lot of invasive moisture testing in addition to home inspections, and without a doubt, one of the worst areas for water leakage is at the end of deck ledgerboards. I can almost guarantee that water is going to leak into this building before the year is up. Not only that, but this is also a recipe for basement water intrusion. To make things worse, the ground wasn't properly pitched away from the building, and the soil was too close to the stone veneer siding.

Exterior - water management with poor grading

As I mentioned in my blog post about installation errors with stone veneer siding, there should be a 4" gap between the bottom of the stone veneer siding and the earth. How does one even fix all of this stuff? As George would say, this is a "whole bowl of wrong". There's not much that can be done about the roof lines at this point, but adding gutters would do wonders for this situation.

I told the buyer to have gutters added, whether he had to pay for them out of his own pocket or not. The association wouldn't allow gutters for aesthetic reasons, and less than a month after I inspected that building, four of the units in this association ended up with basement water intrusion. The association had gutters installed shortly after that.

Installing gutters would probably help in all of the situations shown above, but gutters are something that should be planned for early on. If you're having a home built, think about exterior water management. Take a step back and think above where all of the water will go. If gutters are going to be installed (and they almost always should be), make sure the downspouts have a good location to drain to. That means not onto a walkway, and not over a walkway. Sometimes, this involves laying down an underground drain. It's cheap and easy to do this before the front walkways are poured. Not so much afterwards.

Exterior - poor water management

Here was a major oops, this time at a huge custom home in a nice suburb of Minneapolis where houses are constantly being torn down and rebuilt. The stamped concrete patio was sloped toward the house, which is a no-no.

Exterior - Patio sloped improperly

I bring along a coiled up garden hose just for this kind of thing. A level could also be used to show that the patio isn't sloped properly, but I think the water test is more definitive. In this particular case, to be fair to the municipal inspector (aka code official / city inspector / permit inspector / building inspector) for this home, the improperly sloped patio was not missed. As it turned out, the municipal inspector had already called this out, and the builder had a crew out to the home later the same day tearing out the whole stamped concrete while I was inspecting.

Exterior - patio demoed


The most common deck defect that I used to find on new decks was improper nails used on joist hangers. The nail I’m holding in the photo below isn’t even half as long as it should be.

Decks - joist hanger nails

The problem with these nails is that they don't even begin to penetrate the ledgerboard. In the photo below, you can see the tips of the nails not going into anything.

Decks - short nails at joist hanger labeled

Here's another view showing what is and what should be.

Nails in joist hanger

Over the last five years, I've found this defect less and less. Word has gotten around, and municipal inspectors are calling out this defect. Nevertheless, there are other ways to install a joist hanger improperly. Here are a few defects from this year:

Exterior - improper nail placement marked up

Exterior - missing nails at hanger marked up

Exterior - overdriven nails at joist hanger marked up

The joist hangers shown below were the wrong ones for the job and won’t hold what they’re supposed to.

Decks - joist hangers 2

Decks - joist hangers

In the photos below, joist hangers were forgotten about or missed .

Decks - missing joist hanger

Exterior - Missing Joist Hanger

And here we have a missing metal hanger at the tripled 2x10s, which were supporting a stairway.

Exterior - Missing Hanger

Stairway are frequently installed improperly. In the photo below, the stringers were cut wrong, and then someone scabbed on pieces of deck boards to try to make up the difference.

Decks - Steps

On the stairway below, each stringer was attached with two 1-1/2" nails going into a corner bracket. No good.

Exterior - Bad Stairway Attachment

In the photo below, those long metal straps aren't doing squat.

Decks - Steps2

In the next two photos, the deck stairway is attached to a piece of siding trim with deck screws. Also, there shouldn't be openings between the risers that could allow a 4" sphere to pass through.

Decks - steps3

Decks - steps31

At the deck pictured below, the stairway stringers were all improperly attached. As a general rule of thumb, if you see a fastener going into the end-grain of wood, it's probably wrong. The diagram for LSC Stairway Stringer Fasteners is also shown in the photo below. Click on the photo for a large version.

Exterior - nails into end grain of stairway stringers with diagram

The handrail shown below was too close to the guard. There needs to be at least 1-1/2" of space. I don't make a habit of measuring this distance, but when I go to grab the handrail and my hand barely fits, I know it's wrong. This isn't a big deal, and it's not a major fix, but the point is that this is super-basic-stairway-construction-101 done wrong on a brand new home.

Exterior - handrail too close to guard

When nails are overdriven on the deck boards, water will sit in every one of those nail holes and lead to premature deterioration of the deck.

Exterior - overdriven nails at deck 23

Exterior - overdriven nails at deck

Would anyone accept lumber like this on a brand new deck?

Exterior - poor lumber

When the dropoff from a deck exceeds 30", a guard is required on the open side. The national building code require the drop to be measured 3' out from the deck, but here in MN, the building code has been amended to remove that requirement (section R312.1.1), which I personally don't agree with. This means that the new deck pictured below, with a 31" dropoff measured straight down, could arguably be made code compliance by dumping down some mulch right below the open side of the deck. Would that really make it any safer? Of course not. If someone falls, it'll be much more than a 30" fall, because the ground slopes away. Common sense says that the open side of this deck should have a guard installed, whether it's required by code or not.

Deck - missing guard

Just one more deck item. This isn't that big of a deal, but it was the only time I've ever seen something like this done. The builder left a thin little piece of each 6x6 post and bolted the beam onto it.

Decks - improper beam attachment at post

A metal bracket would have been more appropriate.

Decks - beam attachment diagram

The diagram above comes from the Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide, which is fantastic. If you build decks, inspect decks, are planning to build a deck, or just want some great info on how to properly build a deck, download this free guide from the American Wood Council.


I recently wrote an entire blog post on installation defects with LP Smartside, which I won't repeat here. All of those installation defects were from new homes. Here's a compilation of images from that post:

LP Smartside Installation Defects

Same thing goes for stone veneer siding. Here's a compilation of installation defects from new installations, mostly from a previous blog post I wrote about installation defects with stone veneer siding:

ACMV Compilation

I wrote a blog post about installation defects with James Hardie siding over six years ago, but not much in that post is applicable any longer. Installers seem to do a much better job today than they were doing back then. Nevertheless, there are plenty of installation errors still happening today with fiber cement siding. Mark Parlee, a siding guru down in Iowa, recently published an article in the Journal of Light Construction detailing numerous installation problems happening with fiber cement siding today:


New construction roofs are not impervious to installation defects. The most common issue we find with new roof installations is improper shingle nailing. When nails are overdriven, driven at an angle, or located too high on the shingles, it’s a defective installation. The photos below show overdriven nails on new construction homes. I have dozens, maybe hundreds of these, but they're all pretty repetitive.

Roofs - overdriven nails (2)

Roofs - overdriven nails 2

When I find a roof with overdriven nails, I recommend having the roof covering replaced, or getting a letter from the roofing manufacturer saying that these installation defects will not void the warranty. I've never seen that letter sent out from a manufacturer before, but I have seen full tear-offs and replacements. The photo below shows new shingles delivered on top of the existing roof that was only a week or two old. The home buyer sent me this photo to show that the builder was making good with their defective installation.

Roofs - shingles delivered on new home

While over-driven nails are a fairly common defect at new roofs, under-driven nails can be a problem too. This prevents shingles from sealing down properly. The home shown below had a lot of them.

Roofing - under-driven nails

Roof - lifted shingle

The fix for this isn't as big of a deal as over-driven nails, because the nails can simply be pounded back down as long as they haven't punched through the shingles. Once under-driven nails have punched through the shingles above, the fix is to replace the damaged shingles.

Roofing - nail punched through shingle

Short nails on a new roof isn’t a common defect, but I’ve found them. In the photo below, the ridge shingles were fastened with 1-1/4″ nails, which barely even touched the roof sheathing. I could pull ’em right out by hand.

Roofs - short nails at ridge

I've found plenty of new roofs with blown off / loose shingles as well.

Roof - missing shingles

Roof - Missing Shingles

Roof - Missing Shingles #2

Believe it or not, the loose tab below was from a roof installed on a new-construction townhome in 2015. What seems odd to me is that any builders are still using 3-tab shingles ;-)

Roofing - broken tab

Here's a roof peak that will surely leak. Water from the seam on the right drains under the seam on the left.

Roof - bad flashing at peak of roof

Why didn’t the municipal inspectors catch these defects? Most municipal inspectors don’t walk on roofs. Here’s a roofing defect that we were suspicious of before we even went into the attic. The roofer missed one of the roof vents. As you can tell from the house wrap, this was a defect we caught during a pre-drywall inspection.

Roof - Missing Vent

Here’s what it looked like from inside the attic. Don’t step there.

Roof - Missing Vent (attic view)

Here's the opposite. This new home didn't have a single roof vent installed. Not one.

Roof - missing roof vents

That brings us to attics.


The photo below comes from the same house shown above. There wasn't a single roof vent installed on this new home.

Attic -no roof vents

I generally think roof vents are over-rated, but that doesn't mean they should be skipped. This same house had drip marks in the insulation throughout the entire attic.

Attic - drip marks on insulation

The drip marks were the result of condensation/frost in the attic. Roof vents would have helped to hide this problem, which was partially caused by several disconnected bath fan ducts in the attic.

Attic - Disconnected duct in new construction home

Attic air leaks between the living space and the attic are the other big cause of condensation/frost in the attic. Here's an example of what an attic air leak looks like before everything gets covered with insulation. The space between the top wall plates was open. This is typical stuff that we find during pre-drywall inspections if we can do the inspection before the attic is insulated.

Attic - Air Leak

Here's an air leak that was covered with insulation:

Attic - bypass (2)

We found that using an infrared camera. Infared inspections are an add-on service to our standard home inspection. They make finding attic air leaks a piece of cake. Here’s an infrared image of a disconnected / missing bath fan duct below the insulation in an attic on a cool day. There were no visible signs of this defect, but a quick scan with an infrared camera made it quite obvious.

Attic - Disconnected Duct in Attic

Here's frost and black staining below in a new-construction attic. This was the result of an air leak.

Frost in new construction attic

When data tubes end in the attic, the ends need to be sealed off to help prevent them from pumping conditioned air into the attic like a chimney.

Attic - open data tube

We've found many broken trusses* in new attics.

Attic - damaged truss

Attic - damaged truss 3

Attic - damaged truss 2

Attics - broken truss chord 2

Attics - Broken truss chord

* John Bouldin, Ph.D., says that once it's broken, you can no longer call it a truss. It's a building component formerly known as a truss. I'll try to come up with a symbol that they can go by. 

Here’s a home where the builder agreed to install a radon fan, but installed the fan on its side. Radon fans should be installed vertically to help prevent water from accumulating, which can cause the motor to burn out prematurely.

Radon - Fan on side

Without a doubt, the most common problem that I find on new construction inspections is insufficient insulation in the attic. I've been talking about this for a long time, and I still find this defect at a lot of new homes. This is a common problem because there is no such thing as an “attic insulation inspection” for new construction homes. See my blog post dedicated to attic inspections on new construction houses: Who Inspected Your Attic?

Attic - Insufficient Insulation

Fiberglass batts do a terrible job of insulating attics because they’re impossible to install properly. They leave gaps all over the place. In the middle of the photo below, the insulation was compressed down to 3-1/2″ thick, which is completely inadequate. It's not common to find fiberglass batts in new homes, but it happens.

Attic - Improperly installed fiberglass batts

Here's a custom home that had fiberglass batts haphazardly installed throughout the attic, hopefully by someone who did not install insulation for a living.

Attic - fiberglass batts

Putting ductwork in an unconditioned attic is generally bad practice too:

Just for fun, here's an attic that I came across while doing a TISH evaluation at a vacant townhome built in 2005. There were two attic spaces here; above attic #1 was plenty of snow. Above attic #2... no snow. Someone completely forgot to insulate attic #2. I've heard of this happening before, but this was the only home I've inspected like this. In other words, this is not a common defect, but it sure is an egregious one.

Attics - missing insulation

If you're buying a new construction home and the attic access panel is "sealed", insist on having it opened. More on that topic here: Opening "sealed" attic access panels is no big deal.


Even new stuff can leak. We test tiled showers by using a shower dam. When tiled showers leak, it’s a big deal. This photo shows our shower dam sitting in the shower.

Plumbing - Leaking Shower

We use infrared cameras to check ceilings below showers for leaks, and we can usually identify shower leaks before any water is ever visible, but not always. The next photo shows water that leaked through the shower base, down into the garage.

Plumbing - Leaking Shower Evidence

While scanning the ceiling for a shower leak with my IR camera, I once found a leaking shutoff valve for the bathroom sink. This was a very slow leak, but the builder was very thankful that we found it when we did. This would have been a huge hassle if the ceiling had to be repaired, but we caught it before any repairs had to happen there.

Plumbing - leak identified with IR camera

Here's a home where the new dishwasher leaked like crazy.

Plumbing - leaking dishwasher

Here's a leaking bath tub overflow.

Plumbing - leaking bath tub overflow

Leaking shower door.

Plumbing - leaking shower

And a leaking tub. This tub actually leaked a bunch of water through the house before my inspection, and was being repaired when I arrived.

Tub leaked

The part that the builder didn’t know about was that the water traveled across the first floor ceiling, through an exterior wall, and down into the basement. An infrared scan and a follow-up test with a moisture meter confirmed there was water in all of these places. The builder had a lot more drying out to do than first anticipated.

Plumbing tub leak 3

Plumbing tub leak 2

Plumbing tub leak 1

When the drain, waste, and vent pipes are installed at a new home, everything gets pressure tested. To do this, the plumbing vents get capped off. After the pressure testing is complete, the caps need to be removed. This is frequently forgotten about.

Plumbing - test cap in place Plumbing - test cap still present cropped Plumbing - vent cap not removed 2 Plumbing vent cap not removed

Plumbing vents and drains need to be pitched so water drains out. I added the blue in the photo below to show where water will end up sitting. This vent wasn't pitched properly.

Plumbing - backpitched vent

When frost-free faucets are installed, they need to be pitched downward, to allow water to drain out. We've inspected many new homes where the faucets were pitched upwards. More on that topic here: frost free faucets

Plumbing - backpitched frost-free faucet

Dishwasher drains are supposed to be looped to the underside of the countertop. This is done wrong on a lot of new homes.

Plumbing - dishwasher drain loop missing High loop at dishwasher drain

We've found countless access panels for bath tub drains that either gave access to a solid wall, or an access hole that was comically undersized. This isn't a big deal, as these holes could easily be made larger without the use of tools, but it's always good for a chuckle.

Plumbing - access hole small Plumbing - access hole small2 Plumbing - access hole small3 Plumbing - access hole small4 Plumbing - access panel missing Plumbing - access panel missing2Plumbing - access panel goofy

Every gas appliance needs to have a union, or some method of disconnecting the gas piping after the shutoff valve. That didn't happen here.

Plumbing - missing union


I can't believe how many HVAC photos I have. Just a quick reminder: these are all from new homes.

The two condensors below should have been installed at least 24" away from each other, per the manufacturer's installation instructions.

HVAC - AC units too close

Condensors are always supposed to be installed level. When they tip like this, the refrigerant lines can get stressed.

HVAC - tipping air conditioner

When a condensor sits on a wall-mounted bracket, it won't tip. That's good practice... but it should ideally be mounted at a height that's convenient for servicing. Unlike this one.

HVAC - mounted high

Just like plumbing drains and vents, high-efficiency furnace vents need to be pitched properly to help make sure there are no dips that could allow condensate to collect and obstruct the vent. I marked up the photos below to show where this didn't happen.

HVAC - backpitched furnace vent 2

HVAC - backpitched furnace vent

Here was a scary find. This was a disconnected vent for a water heater. Someone forgot to glue this joint.

HVAC - disconnected water heater vent

The intake pipe on a high-efficiency furnace needs to be installed at least 12" above grade, to help prevent it from getting blocked by snow. That didn't happen here.

HVAC - combustion air inlet too close to grade

I make a point of verifying which is which at the outside, because sometimes they're switched.

HVAC - Furnace Intake and Exhaust Backwards

Lots of air leaks on ductwork.

HVAC - air leak #1

HVAC - air leaks

HVAC - sloppy ductwork

HVAC - Unsealed ductwork

Here's a leaking condensate line. Flue gas condensate is highly corrosive, so it doesn't take long to rust the metal cabinet of the furnace.

HVAC - condensate leak

Another condensate leak, this time from the air conditioner.

HVAC - leaking condensate (2)

And another. This was near the floor drain.

HVAC - disconnected condensate line

There should never be holes between the furnace blower compartment and the burner area, because exhaust gases from the burner could be pulled into the air that gets distributed throughout the home. The hole shown below was a 'field modification'.

HVAC - large hole into return plenum

When HRVs are installed, they need to be balanced. When the balancing dampers aren't screwed in place, it's safe to assume it hasn't been balanced.

HVAC - HRV not balanced

At this home, someone installed a damper at the HRV intake. That won't allow the HRV to work properly. The damper needs to be removed.

HVAC - Damper on HRV Intake

Here's an anti-tip bracket for a range that was only attached to the drywall. That won't provide any child safety.

HVAC - improperly installed anti-tip bracket

Here's a dryer exhaust terminal that was caked with lint. I found this while doing a one-year warranty inspection for the owner. While this is allowed by the building code, I think the roof is a terrible place to terminate clothes dryer ducts. More on that topic here:

HVAC - dryer terminal at roof

We've found several new homes, all in the same neighborhood, with kitchen fans that made a lot of noise but didn't exhaust any air. The fans run, but the dampers at the exterior don't open.

HVAC - Stuck damper at kitchen fan

We've found numerous bath fan terminals that don't open as well. In some cases, it's the result of a stuck internal damper at the fan. In other cases, it's the result of the external damper being blocked.

HVAC - Obstructed damper terminal

Check out this hood fan. We removed the interior filters and fan cover to get a better look inside, because the damper at the exterior never opened. Inside, we found flexible plastic ductwork. The only acceptable duct material from the kitchen hood fan is smooth metal.

HVAC - Hood fan with flex duct

How hot should the air coming out of your furnace be? The specs inside your furnace will tell you. At the home shown below, the air coming out was about 178° F, while the air in the home was about 73° F. That's a 105° F temperature rise, but the furnace manufacturer called for a rise of 40 - 70° F. I wrote it up and told the buyer to have this looked into further and corrected. More on this test here: A DIY test for your furnace

HVAC - high deltaT

After my inspection, the builder's HVAC company told the buyer it was fixed. About 11 months later, the owner hired me to come re-inspect a few things, one of them being the furnace. I found the same problem with the furnace. Long story short, the gas regulator was defective, and the furnace had been burning a lot more gas than it should have since the day it was installed. The builder had it fixed it the second time, but it took a full year to get to that point.

And finally, here's a collection of poorly installed registers, mostly on toe-kicks. All from new-construction homes.

HVAC - loose ductwork

HVAC - Toekick 00

HVAC - Toekick 2

HVAC - Toekick 3

HVAC - Toekick 4

HVAC - Toekick 5

HVAC - Toekick 1

This last one is more of a "carpet" defect than an HVAC defect. See if you can figure out the problem. The photo on the right is the same as the one on the left, but includes an infrared image on top.

Missing floor register 1  Missing floor register


Before I get into electrical defects with new homes, let me preface by saying that these defects were found at many different houses. As were all of the defects in this blog post. I don't find a ton of electrical defects on new construction inspections, but they do exist.

The circuit breaker shown below had two wires connected, but was only designed for one wire. This is known as double tapping, and falls under home-inspection-defects-101.

Electrical - Double Tapped Circuit Breaker

Here are a couple more, again from a new construction home.

Electrical - double tapped breakers

The rule is the same for neutral wires. One wire per screw. Not two.

Electrical - doubled neutrals

There shouldn't be any gap between the face of the panelboard and the drywall, when used in combustible construction. It needs to be installed flush .

Electrical - panelboard recessed

The potential for installation errors is inversely proportional to the potential for the error to be seen. In other words, people are more inclined to take shortcuts when they think nobody will see. Like behind the drawers below a cooktop. This outlet was hanging from the wires. At a new home. As we say here in Minnesota, uff-da.

Electrical - hanging outlet

Here's a GFCI outlet installed in an attic. Why? How is this supposed to be reset if it trips? This is not accessible, and should not be a GFCI device.

Electrical - GFCI Outlet in Attic

Junction boxes always need covers, even in the attic. This one was missed.

Electrical - missing cover plate at junction box

Here's an outlet in an attic installed more than 10' away from the radon vent. This wiring is now required in the attic so a radon fan can be installed if needed, but if a fan needs to be installed here, the outlet box will just need to be moved. Radon fans don't come with 10' cords.

Electrical - Radon Outlet

Here's an improperly placed ground clamp. It needs to be slid up about an inch so it can touch the metal.

Electrical - ground clamp not making contact

Smoke alarms need to be installed at least 4" down from the ceiling.

Electrical - improper smoke alarm location

Unused openings in panels always need to be covered.

Electrical - Missing knockout in bottom of panelboard

Electrical - Missing knockout plug at back of panelboard

Cable clamps need to be used to secure cables to the box, and to help prevent damage to the cables. This one was missed.

Electrical - missing connector

Here was a super-rare find. This was a bathroom outlet that lacked GFCI protection.

Electrical - no GFCI protection

Here was another rare find for a new home; a living room outlet with reversed polarity.

Electrical - Reversed Polarity

And finally, this chandelier was installed too close to the tub. It needs to be at least three feet away. That piece of orange tape on the ceiling marks 3'. More info on this defect here: Chandeliers above bath tubs

Electrical - chandelier too close to tub

Structure / Basement stuff

That notch for a toilet is a no-no.

Structure - cut floor joist

So is this one, but that's not a notch. They went all the way through.

Interior - cut joist

So is the notch in this beam. Probably.

Framing - notched beam

A change to the original plans ended up leading to some major field alterations to the manufactured assemblies formerly known as trusses. We caught this during a pre-drywall inspection.

Framing - kludge

Framing - Kludge 2

Framing - kludge 3

Here's an improper hanger that has been bent up and kinda nailed into place. Kinda.

Framing - wrong hanger (2)

Here's another improper hanger.

Interior - wrong joist hanger

And another. Well actually, that's not even a hanger.

Interior - wrong hangers

This wall completely missed the anchor bolt, or the anchor bolt was improperly located.

Interior - Missed Anchor Bolts

These next two photos show obvious installation problems with the foam insulation at the rim space. More info on this topic at the Journal of Light Construction: Spray Foam Insulation Problems

Interior - spray foam insulation problems

Interior - spray foam problem

When a home is built with an exhaust-only ventilation system and the poly on the wood framed portion of the basement wall isn’t perfectly sealed, humid outdoor air will leak into the basement wall cavity and then condense on the relatively cold poly. There was so much condensation on the poly at the home pictured below that water was pooling at the base of the wall. The builder had already attempted to fix a supposed leak at the window twice, but this was simply condensation.

Interior - incomplete vapor barrier

Interior - incomplete vapor barrier #2

Side note: This is the opposite of what I blogged about here: Why do houses cry?Siding stains show up during cold weather at the upper levels of the home, and ‘supply-only’ ventilation will exacerbate this condition.

The fix is to make the poly 100% airtight, or to insulate the wood-framed portion of the wall with closed-cell spray foam insulation. For the record, I’m no hypocrite; I had that done at my own house many years ago: Spray foam insulation at Reuben’s house.

That's all for this year, and this is probably my last mega-post on new construction defects. In the future, my blog posts on new construction defects will probably be focused on one or two specific issues, and getting into the specifics of why they matter.

Thank you for reading.

Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections