There’s nothing more exciting than finding out that your new home is finally complete, and you may think this means you can move in immediately. But don’t move too fast – it’s not quite that simple! There are actually a few extra steps you need to take to protect yourself as the buyer before you move into your new home, one of these being a blue tape walkthrough or inspection.
What Is a Blue Tape Walkthrough?
A blue tape walkthrough is a type of inspection that applies only to new construction homes and allows a buyer to identify any cosmetic issues that need resolution before move-in. During a blue tape walkthrough, the buyer meets with a builder’s representative, such as the builder’s agent or an on-site foreman, to walk through the entire home and identify any flaws or defects by marking it with blue painter’s tape (hence the name “blue tape walkthrough”). These issues are then fixed by the builder before move-in. Follow-up walkthroughs are usually also required to confirm that each of the identified issues has been resolved to the buyer’s satisfaction.
Why Do New Homes Need an Inspection?
While we commonly associate the need for a home inspection with a used home, you may be surprised to learn that even new homes need to be inspected. Building a house is a long and complex process during which steps can be missed and things can go wrong, resulting in flaws and defects in the home Most issues that are revealed in new construction home inspections are cosmetic; however, major issues, such as water leaks and structural defects, are not unheard of. A new home inspection protects you and your investment by ensuring that your home is structurally sound, safe, and will hold its value over time.
Tips For Your Blue Tape Walkthrough
Attending the blue tape walkthrough for your new construction home can be a little scary – you want to be sure that you catch everything, from minor to major issues, so your new home is flawless when you move in. Here are a few tips to help you ensure you are as thorough as possible during your blue tape walkthrough.
- Take someone with you - Your agent is your best resource since they know what to look for in a blue tape walkthrough and will likely catch minor defects that others may miss. A friend or family member can also provide a useful second pair of eyes.
- Allow adequate time - Rushing through the walkthrough will likely result in you missing important details. Allow yourself at least two hours to complete the walkthrough.
- Take some essential tools to assist you - The builder will provide the blue tape to mark any issues in the home, but you will need a notebook, pen, and camera to record your own notes. Other tools that may be useful include a flashlight for looking in dark places; a tape measure; a level tool; and a small electrical device for testing electrical outlets, such as a phone charger.
- Don’t be alarmed by minor issues - Most of the issues you come across during your blue tape walkthrough will be minor, such as mismatched paint, a few cracked tiles, or an electrical outlet that doesn’t work. A buyer can expect to find around 30-40 minor issues like these during an initial walkthrough, and builders have a process for resolving them promptly. Major issues, such as a plumbing leak or a faulty appliance, will take more time to be repaired and should be carefully re-inspected once they are resolved.
Questions to Ask During Your Blue Tape Walkthrough
All repairs should be completed to your satisfaction before you sign the final paperwork for your new home and move in. Make sure you understand the process for getting the identified issues resolved by asking the builder’s representative these questions at your blue tape walkthrough:
- When will each of the repairs be completed?
- Will all of the repairs be completed before my move-in date?
- When can I do another walkthrough to inspect the repairs?
- What do I do if I find additional issues in the home once I move in?
Blue Tape Walkthrough Checklist
Use this checklist during your blue tape walkthrough to ensure that you don’t miss anything that needs attention.
☐ Driveway and walkways - Check all exterior concrete for cracks or uneven surfaces.
☐ Outdoor features - Check patios, decks, and balconies for any defects in the flooring and any safety hazards. Test electrical outdoor features, such as lights or an outdoor kitchen, to ensure they work.
☐ Landscaping - All plants and grass should be in place and provide an attractive landscape.
☐ Irrigation - Test the sprinkler system and outdoor water connections.
☐ Paint - Confirm that paint on the exterior of the house is the correct color and is free of any bubbles or discoloration.
☐ Roof - Inspect roof tiles to ensure they are level and the edges of the roof are sealed. (Many new home buyers hire a roof inspector to do this).
☐ Gutters - Check that gutters are clean and send water 4-6 feet away from the foundation of the house. (A roof inspector can also do this).
☐ Garage doors - Test garage doors and garage door openers to ensure they work.
☐ Front, side, and back doors - Inspect all exterior facing doors to ensure they open and close smoothly, the locks work correctly, and there are no cosmetic issues. Test the doorbell as well.
☐ Interior doors - All interior doors should open and close smoothly and be correctly aligned with their frame. Make sure you check that doorknobs and locks work too.
Systems and Appliances
☐ Plumbing - Test all faucets for hot and cold water supply and adequate water pressure. Check for any leaks from the faucet or the pipes underneath the sink. Confirm that all sinks, toilets, and tubs drain properly. Test the garbage disposal in the kitchen and inspect washer and dryer hookups in the laundry room.
☐ HVAC - Test the functionality of the air conditioning and heating system, and check vents for adequate airflow.
☐ Electrical - Test all light switches and electrical outlets. Inspect the breaker box to ensure all the switches are labeled and working correctly.
☐ Security - Test the security system and all sensors to make sure they work correctly.
☐ Appliances - Test the functionality of each appliance in the home, including the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and stove.
Windows, Walls, and Ceilings
☐ Windows - All windows should open and close smoothly, window locks should work properly, and screens should be securely installed.
☐ Walls - Inspect walls and trims to ensure they have been painted in the right color without any marks or chips.
☐ Ceilings - Inspect ceilings for correct paint colors, as well as any bulging, cracks, or stains that could indicate water damage.
☐ Tiles - Check for loose, cracked, or missing tiles, as well as damaged grout and cosmetic issues.
☐ Hardwood - Walk on different areas of the floor to check for creaks, loose boards, scratches, or other cosmetic issues.
☐ Carpet - Check that the carpet has been properly installed, particularly around the edges, and is free from stains.
☐ Molding and trim - Check for missing, cracked, or damaged floor molding and trim.
☐ Stairs - Improper installation of carpet or flooring on stairs can create serious safety hazards. Check stair railings are securely installed as well.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
☐ Countertops and surfaces - Inspect all countertops and surfaces to check that they meet your specifications and are free from cracks, chips, or other defects.
☐ Cabinets and drawers - Open and close all cabinets and drawers and check for any cosmetic issues.
☐ Bathroom fixtures - Check that all bathroom fixtures, such as mirrors and towel racks, are securely installed.
Attic or basement
☐ Leaks or water damage - Wet spots, water stains, or a musty odor in an attic or basement are signs of water issues.
☐ Insulation - Check the attic or basement for adequate and properly installed insulation.
☐ Ventilation - An attic or basement should have good ventilation and air circulation.
While a blue tape walkthrough is something you may be able to do yourself to identify minor cosmetic issues, hiring a professional inspector is the best way to ensure a flawless new home free of any major defects. At NewHomesMate, we are working hard to bring together the industry’s best tools and resources to help you find and buy your ideal new construction home. Learn more about us and start searching for your new home with NewHomesMate today!