Rome, Georgia        (706)295-5075    (706) 676-8536

Greg Peterson Inspections, Inc.        Rome, GA

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Inspecting the process.


Greg Peterson


As a home inspector, I am often asked to evaluate new construction. Generally there is a good bit of conversation about the project and some questions from my end.


Have you signed a contract?

Has construction started?

What phase is the construction in?

What agreements or contingencies are defined in the contract?

How is your right to inspect described in the contract?

Do you have background information on your builder?

…..Yadda, Yadda, Yadda


Having been through this process a few times myself, having acted as a general contractor, and having constructed my first home from the ground up doing nearly all the work, I find that when pressed for my opinion on how to enter into similar projects, I do have some thoughts on the subject.


Over the years, I have helped several friends develop house plans and set up agreements with their contractors, and more then once I’ve helped others sub out their own project. I have found that putting some of my recommendations on paper simplifies things a little. Now, when asked for advice on building a new home, I print out my prepared speech and offer it up as food for thought. Of course, there are many books on the subject and unlimited information on the Internet. I advise as much research as possible.


Unfortunately, since the person asking for advice has realized the need to ask, usually that means there has been little or no prior planning, the contract has already been signed, and the project started—a little late to start the planning now is what I’m thinking.


John F. Kennedy provided apropos advise on planning ahead, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." Anyone entering into a major construction endeavor would be well advised to consider those words.


On the rare occasions where I am contacted early in the planning stages, I offer my prepared notes on the topic. They are provided below: 



Building A Custom Home


Where do I begin?


Building a custom home can be accomplished in a number of ways—every situation is different; one important consideration that is common to every case is that pre-planning is a good idea. The more planning and legwork before the contract is signed, the less the chance of running into difficulties during construction. There are a few ways to approach the planning process, from entering into a contract blind and allowing the builder to dictate the conditions (this will result in an extremely short and non-specific contract heavily weighted to favor the builder) to a thoroughly pre-planned contract specifying every detail that the buyer (you) want fulfilled. Surprisingly, many builders like this second approach; they know exactly what you want and can provide an accurate bid to get it done.


If you really want a house built a certain way, with specific things included, the only way the builder can know what you want is for you to spell it out. Developing such a list requires a great deal of research. I suggest visiting suppliers (plumbing, electric, hardware, etc.) and shop for the items you want in the house, and then provide a list to the builder, complete with manufacturer, type, and model number for every item (door hardware, windows, roofing, trim, sinks/faucets, etc.). To make the process a little easier, the following Building Materials form provides some items to be considered; the blank lines provide places to write down the manufacturer information. The list should be expanded to include everything that you want the builder to install and any unusual specifics about how it is installed (for example, and this is an actual request I’ve seen, you may want a specific model dishwasher to be installed, and you want it installed so that the front of the dishwasher aligns evenly, or flush with, the adjoining cabinets; not flush with the cabinet doors, but flush with the cabinet shell). The builder may not be accustomed to installing dishwashers this way, and most people probably really don’t care, but it may be important to you.


If this seems like too much work, another option is to find a house that your builder has already completed, and write into the contract that your new home will be of the same quality (or better) workmanship and materials except where otherwise noted in your contract. You can then also add a materials list that only specifies certain, important items that you want to define.


The more detailed your contract, the more likely you will end up with what you want.


One method of including your list into the contract is by a statement, which can read something like, “Builder agrees to utilize the attached ‘Building Materials List’; any changes or substitutions must first be agreed upon in writing by the buyer”.  Sometimes, all pages of the materials list are signed and dated by both the buyer and builder to ensure the list doesn’t get changed by either party. Both parties get a copy of all portions of the contract with signatures.


There may be a good reason to select a specific manufacturer/model of many of the following items, and it is highly recommended that advice from an experienced person (specialist who you can hire, or a friend or family member who has been through the process) be consulted when developing this list.


Many details may be called-out on the plan drawings. Typically, things such as the type of shingles, size and locations of doors and windows, type of siding, roof pitch, etc. can be specified on the blueprint, but usually in general terms; anything that isn’t described in full detail on the blueprints, which is important to you, should be on another list.


This is a very simplified overview. There are many books on the subject of building a home with the help of a general contractor, and the more you read, the less likely you will run into problems. Another option is to hire someone to help step you through the process, and even act as a liaison between you and your builder.


The following list is only a short sample of the type of form that can be used to detail the building materials.



NOTE: The following is a short sample of how a materials list might be developed. Click here to view a fairly complete list of items in your new house that you might want to describe in specific detail to your builder.

*Numbering the windows on the drawing and using each window number to describe it here is a good idea. The same process works well for the doors.


Window 1:  size:                     Manufacturer:      Model or Type:                         

(Continue the list of windows until each one has been described)


Door 1:  size:       Manufacturer:      Model or Type:                         

(Continue the list of windows until each one has been described)


Water pressure and regulator: (water pressure should be below 80 psi and a pressure regulator on the water main is often a good idea.)




Plumbing/piping material (copper, PVC, or galvanized)  


Hose Bibb Locations (call out on drawing or describe here)               

Type of Hose Bibbs              

Sprinkler System (separate sprinkler system plan may be needed)           

Water Heater(s)         


Kitchen Sink   

Kitchen Sink Faucet Set       



This form continues for 10 pages and includes nearly every typical item that can be specifically described. At the very least, using a prepared list will activate the thought process and increase the probability of identifying major concerns.


In addition to being specific about the features of the house, there are a number of questions that are important to have answered before getting started, which may or may not be included in the contract. Some of these concerns include:


  1. What type of sewer system will be utilized?

  2. Is there a question about how well the property will drain and will a French drain be required?

  3. Will retaining walls be necessary and if so how will they be built?

  4. Is landscaping provided?

  5. Are sidewalks provided?

  6. How wide will the drive be?

  7. Is the mailbox provided; if so what style?

  8. Are the property boundaries clearly marked?

  9. All Manuals and warranties should be provided.

  10. Are special operating instructions necessary for any system?

  11. Does any system require propane and if so is the tank provided?

  12. Are there any undesirable or possible undesirable problems with the neighborhood?

  13. Is a flood zone nearby?

  14. Will the electric service be above or underground and what is the amp rating?

  15. What is the water pressure in the area?

  16. What is known about the school system?

  17. How close is the nearest fire hydrant and fire department?

  18. Are there any neighborhood problems? (This could include barking dogs, neighbors who do not keep their property maintained as you would expect, known soil contaminants, air quality problems, etc.)

  19. Is a fence to be provided?

  20. The surrounding soil should be graded and raked clean and smooth, even if sod will be provided.

  21. Will the crawl space be cleaned and if so to what extent?

  22. The soil should be treated for termites before the footings are poured.

  23. Will a vapor barrier be provided in the crawlspace?

  24. Will a vapor barrier be placed under the slab?

  25. What type of crawlspace vents will be provided?

  26. Everything should be done according to local and ICC codes.

  27. What type of warranty is provided to cover problems that develop due to poor workmanship or materials?

  28. Where will the telephone jacks be located?

  29. Where will the TV cable connection be located?

  30. Are there any special light switches or outlets necessary?

  31. Is there a need do have the fireplace and mantle described specifically?

  32. Is there a need for special detail descriptions for any exterior work such as fancy cornices or dental molding?

  33. Will window screens be provided?

  34. Does the dryer vent thru the roof, is there a long run of dryer vent, and is the proper material to be used?

  35. How many coats of paint will be provided, what kind of paint, how will it be applied?

  36. Will there be a good waterproof paint in the bathrooms, or possibly elsewhere? Is water resistant drywall used in the bathrooms?

  37. Will shower doors be provided?

  38. What type of doorbell?

  39. Where will the smoke detectors be located?

  40. Is there a need for a CO detector?

  41. Is a security system required?

  42. Will the garage be finished, and to what extent?

  43. Where will the attic access be located? Will there be pull down stairs?

  44. Will there be a separate switch for each fan and fan light?

  45. Are there any three-way switches necessary?

  46. Is there a dedicated electrical circuit for any future need, such as an outdoor Jacuzzi?

  47. Will the electric panel have room for expansion?

  48. Is there a separate GFI for each required location?

  49. Is there a need to request a higher than normal ceiling?

  50. Is there a need for any special features for a disabled resident?

  51. Are there plenty of outlets over the kitchen counter?

  52. Are there special requirements for computer hook-ups?

  53. Is there a need to pre-wire for a speaker system?

  54. Is a built in hidden safe necessary?

  55. What type of closet shelving will be provided?

  56. How will the roof be framed and is there a need for special framing to allow for storage. Is there a need for extra floor support for attic storage?

  57. If there is a need to change room dimensions, or make plan changes, what type of extra charge can be expected?

  58. Is there a monetary penalty if the project is not completed on time? How much for every day it is late?

  59. What type of earnest money will be required?

  60. What are the rules for backing out, and not following through with the purchase if the house is not satisfactory?

  61. Is there a problem with utilizing professional home inspectors to oversee the project?

  62. All windows and doors should be installed square and plumb.

  63. All walls and framing should be square and plumb.

  64. All painted surfaces should be well filled, nails holes filled evenly, and paint cut in neatly.

  65. A thorough walk through should be allowed at least a week before closing to identify problems and develop a punch list.

  66. All items identified on the punch list should be fixed prior to closing.

  67. Is there a need for any special drainage systems, such as a French drain or sump pump?

  68. A professional architect should describe any non-conventional framing or structure.

  69. All manufacturer guidelines should be adhered to for installation of their products.

  70. Can the builder provide references and two or three homes in the area that can be seen?

  71. Investigate the pros and cons of building on a slab verses a crawlspace.

  72. Are there any easements associated with the property?

  73. Is a Radon test important to you?

  74. Is there a homeowners association?

  75. Are there CC&R’s that apply?

  76. If there is any doubt about the quality of water in the area, have it tested.

  77. Are you sure you want to do this?


The above information, both the materials list and the list of additional items, include much of what should be considered before entering into an agreement with a general contractor. All of these issues may not apply, there are items that do apply that are not on the list. Many of these concerns have a number of possible solutions and each solution will vary with each different home and homeowner. No home has ever been constructed that has answered every question perfectly, ahead of time. My recommendation is to seek advise of an experienced professional for assistance, and do plenty of independent research.








Home inspections in the Rome, Georgia area. Your home inspector is certified structure, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and property maintenance and housing by ICC. Member of American Society of Home inspectors, National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and Independent Home Inspectors of North America.    All Home Inspection photographs and home inspection articles and related information on this website are the property of Greg Peterson Inspections, Inc.;  written permission is required prior to duplication or reproduction. Greg Peterson Home Inspections is the premier home inspector, building inspection, and real estate property inspection service in Rome, Ga. Professional, certified home inspectors trusted to conduct ethical home inspections. Your search for home inspection companies, home inspection company, home inspectors or home inspection services in Rome, Ga. will direct your browser to Greg Peterson Inspections, the premier home inspection service in Georgia. Note: This footnote is displayed solely to enhance the Greg Peterson home inspection website listing in the Google Search. If you have read this home inspection information you may wonder why the words home inspector, home inspection, home inspection company, or building inspector and building inspection company are mentioned so many times. That is because the Google search will display my home inspection page at a higher position if those words are mentioned a lot on my home page. Thanks,  Greg Peterson.

Ph. 706-295-5075, Rome, Ga.