Yes, always plan to hire an inspector even with new construction. Ask your agent can put you in touch with several local inspectors. Set up an interview and hire the inspector of your choice. A typical inspection will run between $200 and $400.
You can also hire an inspector by looking in the Yellow Pages under "Building inspectors" or "Home inspectors," or visit the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) Web site, which has a search page that allows you to type in your ZIP code and get a list of certified inspectors in your area.
Never assume that a new construction is devoid of problems or that the home was built correctly because of the involvement of a municipal building department and the department's inspections.
Before buying a new construction, research the builder's reputation and look at homes built by the same builder to find out how well they have held up or speak to other homeowners in the subdivision and gain their perspective. You can easily meet other homeowners by driving through the subdivision on a weekend and engage them in conversation, as they spend time in their yard. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau and the Contractor's Licensing Bureau to find out if the builder is in good standing with both.
New construction homes are routinely inspected by municipal inspectors at various stages of the construction. Even so, it can happen that the building code is not enforced. When buying a new home and before an inspection, research the construction-related documentation. You should look at copies of the soils report, the structural and the architectural plans. You should be able to ask for this information in the sales office of the development or by visiting the county seat.
If you are having an engineer inspect the property, have him review the construction related documents. File these documents in a safe place. They will provide documentation of the construction process when you decide to sell. Many new homebuilders require that you present your offer on a purchase contract that was drafted by the builder's attorneys. These contracts often do not provide a contingency for the buyers to complete inspections. Always have your agent include an inspection contingency as an addendum to the contract.
Some new subdivisions do not allow representation by the buyer's agent or may require that your agent accompany you the first time you visit the project. If you have an agent but he or she is not with you when you visit the subdivision, be sure to sign in and indicate the fact that you have an agent, providing their name and company. If you are not allowed buyer representation, you may want to hire an attorney to review the builder's contract before you sign it.
Before you close on a new construction, find out what the builder's liability is for construction defects and what warranties are provided. Most good builders have a written procedure for handling complaints. In addition, ask the builder’s representative for a copy of all Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and be sure you review them with your agent or attorney before the closing. Write down any questions you may have and address them ahead of the closing.