New Construction Tip

Blue_TapeWhen buying new construction, you should try to do at least two walk through inspections before signing your closing papers. Do one early, maybe two weeks ahead of time. Go back BEFORE you sign your closing papers and check to see if everything from the first walk through was done. You can’t really hold up closing for minor items, so more walk through inspections are better than just one. As many as you can get away with.

But here’s the TIP of the DAY! I love this one and so do my clients. We bring our own blue tape. The new construction person will usually have blue tape, and when you point out a problem, they usually put a piece of blue tape on it. But sometimes if they think it is a picky item, they don’t, and you have to bug them to put a piece of blue tape on it. So bring your own blue tape. Give everyone blue tape. Then you don’t have to call the new construction person for every piddly little item.

Then everywhere there is blue tape at the end, you make a list of the items, and where you don’t expect the builder to be able to fix an item, you put a credit amount if they can’t fix it. Example, there was a little scratch on the stainless steel refrigerator. It’s a large all new condo complex. You put down that you want a $250 credit (whatever) if they can’t buff it out. The builder can just switch it out if he wants, and give you the one in the unit next door and hope they don’t see it, if he doesn’t want to give you the credit. You’d probably be happier with the one with no scratch, but at least you won’t have to suck up the one with the scratch without a credit. Another example. A little piece of slab granite in the back of the shower, where the two pieces meet, was chipped. You could only feel it, you couldn’t see it. The builder isn’t going to fix that. He’s not going to rip that whole shower apart and bring in a whole new piece of slab granite for a little chip you can’t even see. But you should get a credit for imperfections that can’t be fixed.

When the workers come to fix things, they can’t tell the builder reps tape from everyone else’s tape, so they just fix it all. That’s why it must be BLUE tape. Actually it has to be the same color they use. If you have green and they have blue, they can pull all of your piddly items off. But if it’s all blue, it will be next to impossible for them to sort out whose blue tape was whose.

Works great. And buyers love running around with their own blue tape, and not having to ask the person to PLEASE put a piece of blue tape on this and that. You are more likely to catch everything, if you have your own blue tape.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

25 thoughts on “New Construction Tip

  1. Pingback: urbnlivn » Stock up on blue tape?

  2. Great tip! In addition, we ALWAYS recommend that the buyer have a professional, third party home inspection just as we do for resale homes. New homes, like new cars, have bugs to work out. I had one transaction where the termite inspector, needing to inspect the attic crawl space, couldn’t find the access. Turned out the builder had drywalled over it and it simply didn’t exist! Unfortunately, the furnace was up there as well.

  3. > In addition, we ALWAYS recommend that the buyer have a professional, third party home inspection just as we do for resale homes.

    Another way of thinking of this: If the buyers feel competent to identify any gross problems, schedule the full-blown home inspection for one month before the expiration of the builder’s warranty. That way, you get every remaining problems repaired just before the buyers have to switch to a third-party home warranty.

  4. You both bring up another issue. The “blue tape” inspection I did the other day was on a new condo complex. Hiring an inspector to come in and turn on everything in the unit? That’s up to the buyer who would have to pay for it, but I likely wouldn’t do that. BUT when the builder is about to turn over the HOA to the owners, I think that would be a VERY good time to have the whole place inspected. Underground garage, Pipes overhead, elevators, etc

    Here in WA new complexes get a chance to go back to the builder at the four year mark. I think it’s a “speak now or forever hold your peace” kind of timeframe, for the most part. Instead of waiting until the building is four years old to hire an inspector, it would be a good idea to try to catch any major items, when the builder is leaving and turning the complex over to the owners to run.

  5. Just had a new construction closing last Friday on a townhome. We had a third party inspector who used the blue tape. Afterwards my clients went out and got their own roll(s) of blue tape. They then added quite a bit of blue to the drywall where they felt the inspector wasn’t picky enough. More tape on the cabinets, windows, etc. All was taken care of by the builder. Great advice. Amazing how many new construction buyers bypass the third party inspector!

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  7. Just be careful about the builder or builder’s rep seeing what you’re doing. The blue tape is meant to signify that the builder agrees with fixing this item. If they come into the house and see an explosion of blue tape, then the builder might take the opposite approach and fix the least he can. Here’s a safer way to do the same thing.Write an inspection addendum on a new house, and write the timeline to be within 3 days of receiving the Certificate of Occupancy so the builder has had a chance to completely finish but before the walk thru. Then have an independent inspection and put down absolutely everything on the inspection form and then submit it to the builder who will likely sign off on it since it has come from a legitimate source. Then bring that to your builder walk thru making sure everything on it is on the walk thru list and blue taped. That way you have the inspection and the walk thru backing up what you want fixed.

  8. Eileen,

    On a new condo, the blue tape items are usually all cosmetic issues. I’ve never seen a home inspector write up paint defects or scratches. Have you? Builders rep is always with us when we do the blue taping. Sometimes the builder himself. Works better for me and my clients, as inspectors often cost more than the minor cosmetic items we are taping. You have to weigh the possible issues with the cost of the inspector. On a 650 square foot brand new condo with all new appliances and manufacturer warranties, often all of the issues are cosmetic ones that would cost less to fix than the price of an inspector. It would be cheaper to hire a handyman to actually fix them, than to hire an inspector.

  9. Lenny,

    Thanks for the comment. What things did the inspector tape that you wouldn’t have picked up without an inspector? I assume it is a zero lot line townhome where you are responsible for the roof and exterior.

    What things did get fixed by the builder that you wouldn’t have picked up on your own?

  10. Alan,

    Did they have a one year mostly unlimited warranty? Looks like you have “water intrusion” issues there that could create more damage if left unaddressed. Are homeowners getting those things caulked on their own before the rains came?

  11. I have been a Home Inspector in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties for over 10 years. I have always brought blue tape with me to new construction and condo conversions. I usually have a roll and offer a roll to my client, if they choose. They usually are eager and glad to place the blue tape also. I offer the roll and encourage them along with myself to place it on all finished flaws. But keep in mind there are 2 kinds of blue tape. One of the 2 is less likely to cause more damage when pulled away from a painted drywall surface. Its important to work together for the same common goal which is: a satisfied buyer. Builders / painters typically for the most part don’t mind the blue tape as long as it doesn’t cause them extra work by pulling it off.
    Julie T Beller – Cambridge Home Inspections, LLC.

  12. I’m a Home Inspector also. Blue tape is made for easy removal and will not generally do any harm. Personally, I like to use the round stickers used to color code folders. I try to use a different color than the builder used so he can keep my stickers straight.

    BTW, you should always recommend a professional home inspection, even on a new home. I could fill a blog or two with stories of home inspection issues found on new homes.

    Bruce Lunsford Naples, Cape Coral, Fort Myers Home Inspector

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  15. We are a home inspection team, Home Inspections of Puget Sound, and we routinely do new home inspections. We always carry blue tape for our clients. We look at so many new construction projects, that we often will see and point out flaws missed by most buyers. More importantly we have found issues in brand new construction such as defective furnaces, disconnected heating duct work, uninsulated attics, leaking gas lines, crawlspaces full of construction debris and no vapor barriers. See some examples here
    These issues were clearly not inspected by municipal inspectors. As a general contractor, we never have seen a municipal inspector in a crawlspace, or an attic, or on a roof. We always recommend a full inspection on new construction. If you or your client bought a new house without an inspection, make sure to have it inspected before the warranty expires.

  16. This is probably the best advise next to a complete new build inspection you could give your clients. The most important areas for blue tape are wood trim and steel door dings which is less of a DIY project like most undertake during painting.

  17. Seattle Inspector,

    Even if the buyer hires an inspector, they should bring the tape as most inspectors do not evalaute cosmetic items to the same degree that a buyer does.

    Thanks for stopping by…

  18. Pingback: Buying New Construction | Rain City Guide

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