Why You Should Never Waive A Home Inspection—Even With A New Build

The housing market is still tight, due to a perfect storm of factors, and prospective buyers are looking at numerous ways to remain competitive. As they’re getting creative to find a home, and considering ways to sweeten the deal, some house hunters might decide to waive the home inspection. However, this may be one option that you don’t want to exercise.

Benefits Of A Home Inspection

Tyler Forte, CEO at Felix Homes in Nashville, Tennessee, tells me he would never recommend waiving the home inspection. “I think home inspections are a lot like insurance policies — hopefully, you never have to use it but when you do, you’re happy to have it,” he says.

Hopefully there’s nothing wrong with the house, but if there is, Forte explains that you want to discover problems before making one of the largest purchases of your life.

A home inspection could reveal damage that’s not visible to the casual observer. For example, in Forte’s home state of Tennessee, radon gas is prevalent. “High levels of radon gas can cause health implications, so it is very common to get a radon inspection, which measures the level of radon gas over a 48-hour period,” he explains. In this instance, a home inspection could help you avoid becoming a statistic of sick building syndrome, where you experience health problems as a result of contaminants and poor indoor air quality that are directly related to the building in question.

And Forte points to another common issue in Tennessee: termite damage. “This is not easy to see, since most termite damage occurs in damp, dark places like the crawlspace; however, this damage can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair,” he says.

Lisa Culp Taylor, realtor and team leader at LCT Team-Parks in Franklin, Tennessee, is also an advocate of home inspections, and strongly advises against ever waiving one. In fact, her exact quote was, “Never, ever, ever, ever waive a home inspection!” You’ve heard the phrase, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” and Taylor stresses that you can’t tell what a home looks like based on the outside, and you can’t see behind the walls.


“You need someone to climb up in the attic and check out the crawl space,” she says. “It’s your one time to do this with a professional before making this investment, which can impact your financial future and happiness — and no one wants to buy a lemon,” Taylor adds. Data shows home maintenance costs have hit a record high, and additional, unexpected expenses can disrupt your budget and your lifestyle.

Newer Vs. Older Homes

You probably want to get a home inspection if you’re buying an older home or a home that needs some work done on it. However, it’s also important for new construction homes. “If the home is new, you may be entitled to a punch list of any repairs, so carefully review the inspection report and make distinctions between items that are functional and those that are cosmetic,” advises Julie Jones, VP of ultra-luxury sales, and broker associate at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Remember that insurance companies have strict criteria with regard to the age of a roof, electrical, and plumbing services, so don’t forget to also ask to see warranties and receipts,” she says. Jones also recommends getting quotes from licensed contractors during your inspection period, and says you should ask for extra time if you do not have answers to your questions.

A home inspection can also be beneficial to prospective buyers for another reason. Forte says it can be used as an additional negotiating tactic. “For example, if you decide to get a home inspection and the repairs equate to $10,000, you could negotiate with the seller to get an additional $10,000 off of the sales price,” he says.

Examples Of Issues That Could Be Discovered During A Home Inspection

There are several types of issues with a potential home that might not been revealed aside from the home inspection. In fact, Chris Dreyfuss, luxury real estate specialist at Brown Harris Stevens in Miami, Florida, tells me that he was recently helping a client purchase a home that showed well and appeared to be in good condition. “During the inspection period, not only did we find out that multiple things were not working, including the air conditioner, but also multiple renovations were done without a permit,” he says.

It turns out that an extension was added to the house, and it was built too close to the pool. Dreyfuss explains that the buyer was in danger of having to deal with the costly permitting issues. “The inspection revealed those problems, and enabled us to cancel the contract and find another home nearby that was in great condition,” he says.

In another instance, Dreyfuss was working with a client who wanted to buy a condo. He says it was absolutely gorgeous, with many upgrades and was offered turn-key with furniture. Since the property was in meticulous condition, Dreyfuss says it was hard to believe that there would have been any type of problem. “However, we had an inspection company visit and they detected an issue with mold.” Fortunately, it was manageable to remediate and his client wanted to proceed with the purchase. And using that report led to a substantial credit from the seller.

These are some of the other hidden defects of issues that might be revealed during a home inspection.

Sewer Issues

Older homes may use cast iron pipes, which corrode over time, instead of PVC for the sewer lines. “Replacing these pipes will include ripping up all the sewer lines, and of course, these pipes are running under the floors, kitchen, bathrooms and so on,” says Saud Rai, broker associate and team leader of the Skywalker Group of The Keyes Company in Homestead, Florida.

“It can cause thousands of dollars to dig up those lines, in addition to the cost of repairing the damage caused by digging, which may include new flooring and rebuilding areas,” he says.

Mike Hankins, WIN Home Inspector in Nashville, Tennessee, agrees, and tells me that he’s seen sewer issues even in new construction. “Sewer scope inspections are extremely important to detect major problems with sewer lines, and over the years, we have found a variety of issues including trash, rocks, bottles, plastic, mud, etc.,” he says. Hankins explains that anything blocking the lines to low areas that hold water will promote clogging over time. And when these issues are discovered down the road, he says it will be at the homeowner’s expense.

Septic Tanks

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 20% of homes in the U.S. depend on septic systems for wastewater. “There is no way of knowing the condition of the septic tank until you get the home inspector to examine it,” Rai explains. The lifespan of a septic tank is based on usage and maintenance, and Rai warns that replacing it can be very costly.


Rai points to the use of polybutylene pipes for plumbing as another issue, especially in houses built around the 80’s. “These pipes can burst without any warning, which would cause severe water damage that’s expensive to repair,” he explains.

Also, you may be able to detect a leaky faucet in the shower or tub, but Hankins says plumbing leaks under showers and tubs are other common issues that he sees in new home construction. “When the plumbing is completed on a home, the builder does a pressure test on the water lines but not on the drain system,” he says. And Hankins explains that any leaks will cause drywall damage after a homeowner moves in, and be a hassle to repair when the house is full of furniture and belongings.


Another issue that Hankins finds in areas of new construction home inspections is missing insulation. “These types of issues are rarely discovered later by a homeowner; usually it is only when they feel like a room is drafty or it stays at a different temperature from the rest of a house that a homeowner addresses it,” he explains.


Just because the lights don’t flicker when you turn them on doesn’t mean there aren’t electrical problems in the home. “In some older houses, there’s still cloth-covered wiring present, which can be a fire hazard — and you will not know it until the property is properly examined by a home inspector,” Rai says. “Also an updated electrical panel is also extremely important — some electrical panels are not insurable and that can hinder acquiring property insurance for the property.”


You could also miss signs of small leaks or previous water damage, especially if the previous homeowner painted over the affected areas. “More than likely, that leak can only be detected if the inspector uses a moisture detection device to see if there’s active moisture present, and also goes into the attic to see if there was a past leak that caused any damage, while also inspecting the overall condition and life expectancy of the roof,” Rai says.

And Hanson adds that in new construction, he often finds areas with missing flashing. “Missing or poorly installed flashing typically allows small amounts of water into walls during severe weather events,” he says. These types of leaks can take a while to be discovered, but Hanson warns that they can lead to mold and major repair issues down the road.

An Exception To The Rule

There’s usually an exception to every rule, and according to Dreyfuss, here’s one on waiving a home inspection. “When a client will gut renovate a property, waiving an inspection might be okay; however, you need a good understanding of zoning requirements,” he says. In one instance Dreyfuss helped a buyer purchase the condo next door to another one the person already owned. “His intention was to gut renovate and combine the two residences, and he already knew all the nuances of the building budget, upcoming work, etc. so in this situation, it made sense,” he explains.

Suppose You Didn’t Get A New Home Inspection

If you purchased a new construction home and didn’t hire a professional home inspector to conduct a full inspection prior to closing, all is not lost. “You have a second chance at the 11-month anniversary of purchasing the home to get a full comprehensive inspection,” Hankins explains. “This unbiased, third-party report can be given to the builder at the warranty deadline so they can address any issues discovered during the inspection.”