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Five Sneaky Ways Builders Cut Corners on New Homes

November 3, 2014

We want to trust the people we hire to do the right thing, whether that person is our mechanic, plumber or homebuilder. Many companies are honest, but the harsh reality is that others simply are not. Dishonest people exist in every industry imaginable.

While there are many homebuilders who pride themselves on quality and integrity with every job, there are also large-production builders who cut corners to put up houses quickly and get them sold. Sometimes the shortcuts are obvious from the start; other times they become apparent years later. We’ll walk you through some of the most common tricks so you can spot them before its too late. Knowing these tricks will also help you ask the right questions when you’re searching for a reputable builder.

1. Substituting Cheaper Materials

Unscrupulous builders might charge you for a higher-priced product or material then substitute the cheap stuff without your knowledge. This can apply to everything from kitchen counters to roofing – they might purchase a lower grade of granite or shingles, for example. Not surprisingly, builders are most likely to pull this with things you can’t easily see. The might use cheap sheathing to insulate the home and keep water out, sand fill for the foundation instead of select fill, or cheap copper pipes.

This list goes on and on, but the important thing to know is that you have the right to hire an independent inspector to check in on the building process from time to time. It will cost you extra upfront, but it could save you serious cash in the long run. Be extra wary if the builder tries to dissuade you from hiring an inspector. That’s a major red flag.

2. Skipping Crucial Steps

Similarly, some builders will cut corners by skipping important steps in the building and/or finishing process. Again, these are usually things you can’t see – at least immediately. They might nail the framing into the foundation instead of using bolts, paint the walls without priming them, or use nails instead of nails and screws for the sheet rock. There are basic fundamentals that go in to quality construction, and most builders know exactly what they are. The bad ones just hope you won’t notice what they omit.

3. Hiring Unskilled Laborers

Labor makes up a huge percentage of the builder’s costs, and hiring skilled professionals is much more expensive than hiring inexperienced laborers. The problem is, inexperienced and low-wage workers don’t have the expertise to build quality homes. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about the experience of the crew before you hire a builder. Does the company use long-term employees or temporary workers? What training and certifications do crew members have? What is the average wage?

4. Focusing on Amenities, Not Quality

Amenities are great, no doubt. We all want high-end appliances, hardwood floors and fancy kitchen cabinets. Builders know that, so sometimes they cut corners when it comes to the quality and integrity of the structure to offer high-end upgrades. Luxury upgrades come at a cost, but they should never come at the cost of craftsmanship. If the price seems suspiciously low for all the amenities you’re getting, consider what might be sacrificed in exchange. Those granite counters won’t look so good when your foundation cracks.

5. Installing Inadequate Systems

All the systems in the house need to be adequately sized and powerful enough to handle their jobs. Builders might try to install too-small septics, substandard plumbing, and furnaces and AC units without enough capacity. Again, this is where asking lots of questions upfront and/or hiring an independent inspector can save you. Once you move in, it’s nearly impossible to get a bad builder to pay for upgrades, short of a lawsuit.

The team at front Light Building Company has proven experience in the homebuilding and design industry. We’ve assembled an all-star team that includes an architect, builder, interior designer and landscape architectural firm who are experts at creating Lowcountry homes at an affordable price.

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