The warranty home inspection service sets out to achieve a clear goal, that of taking full advantage of all warranties covering a house before the expiration date(s). This kind of home inspection usually applies to newly constructed houses nearing the end of their first year of occupancy; most builders accept the responsibility to fix errors of construction during this period. But buyers of older homes who acquired a one-year home warranty policy through escrow would also qualify for this service.
A warranty home inspection is to be distinguished from a re-inspection. The two services are similar in that they both entail an inspector returning to a particular property to follow up on previous work. But the re-inspection occurs without much time lapsing, typically near closing, and the sole purpose is to check out the quality of repairs added as new contingencies to the purchase agreement by the buyer after the original inspection. The time lapse for the warranty inspection is roughly a year and the reexamination is much broader, encompassing pretty much the entire building. The two services also tend to differ in price, with the warranty costing more than the re-inspection due to more work involved.
When the home under warranty was inspected when purchased and the same inspector is available to come back, the owner can anticipate paying a reduced fee. Otherwise, he must engage someone unfamiliar with the house and the inspector will expect to receive his full standard inspection cost.
In general terms, my approach to the warranty inspection starts with a review of the conditions written up in my report from before and an investigation of their current condition. Next I consult with the client about his specific concerns and check them out. Finally, I perform a constrained reexamination of the entire house, looking mainly for new defects that the builder’s warranty or home warranty policy would cover.
More specifically, the inspector first determines whether or not the defects appearing in his previous report have been satisfactorily fixed. For those that haven’t, he must establish their probable cause (which wasn’t a factor before) to see if the warranty covers them. Because large appliances are covered by manufacturer warranties, the inspector tests them for serviceability, alert to any discrepancies between current behavior and that cited in the original report.
A critical aspect of the warranty service is a detailed pest inspection, and it is key that the inspector be qualified to perform it. The main issue is whether or not leaks, heavy condensation, or rising damp have caused excess moisture to accumulate, as this will induce insect infestation. If these conditions are present they should be covered, even if evidence of them wasn’t apparent from the former inspection.
The inspector investigates specific issues raised by the client, and he goes through the entire house somewhat cursorily. He looks at roof wear and the structural integrity of sub-floor and attic. He checks functioning and operation of house systems and components while referring to his former report for comparison purposes. Finally, he compiles a punch list of defects that the owner can submit to the policy issuer or the builder, as the case may be.