December 6, 2021
What is a construction site visit, if not the opportunity to check that everything is on track? Only after the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established in the 1970s were home builders required to follow safety precautions and limit access to construction sites. Insurance companies, too, to avoid liabilities.
Construction sites are complex, as they require seamless coordination between numerous people and materials. At any given time, there is a lot going on. For your safety, the safety of others, and so as not to disturb the work supply chain, here are the dos and don'ts when visiting the new construction site of your home.
As a new construction site visitor, following these tips will enable you to see the progress made on your new home without causing your builder any trouble.
Is it illegal to walk through a construction site? Generally, if you have permission from your contractor, it is legal to walk through a construction site or house undergoing renovations. However, having said that, depending on what your contractor is working on, you may not be able to go into your house if you arrive unannounced.
A home’s construction zone can be dangerous; therefore, you need to alert your contractor, so they can prepare the site and ensure everyone is safe and aware of what is going on. Contractors are usually more than happy to show their clients around. Giving advance notice ensures you’ll get a guided tour to see everything.
Because time is money, contractors try their best to meet building schedules and complete homes according to deadlines. While there’s typically a foreman on-site, they have a lot to manage on any given day, so it’s best to make a site visit as per their recommendation.
Allowing your contractor to schedule time for your tour ensures they can devote enough time to show you around and answer any questions you may have. There’s nothing more stressful than having a client show up without notice while you’re trying to complete an important part of the building process, and feeling as though you can’t attend to their needs, or answer their questions.
You’ll want to take a building checklist to your contractor site visit to ensure your new home build is going according to plan. When you’re on-site, it’s easy for enthusiasm to eclipse scrutiny. We recommend drawing up a checklist with the following to make sure your new home lives up to its expectations:
We usually recommend visits only once visible progress has been achieved. Obviously, you can’t assess fixtures when your contractor is busy with the foundation, so you’ll need to do a couple of site visits. Don’t be shy to ask any questions or flag concerns you have with your contractor.
Witnessing the building of a new home is incredibly exciting, but the importance of a site visit in construction is really about assessing whether it’s going according to plan. Feel free to take as many pictures as you like. This provides some great memories to look back on and better documentation than any notes.
If a problem does arise, it’s considerably easier to explain to your contractor with a clear visual aid, especially since you may be unfamiliar with technical construction jargon. Therefore, the more specifically you can show them what you’re talking about, the better they’ll be able to understand and provide a solution.
You must follow construction site visitor safety rules at all times, without exception. Always wear the appropriate PPE as required by your builder. Failure to abide by their safety policies means you can be banned from the site until your home is complete, or only under the supervision of a superintendent.
Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and old shoes if there’s been recent rain. There can be a lot of mud on the site, as new houses won’t necessarily have driveways or sidewalks until most of the building is complete. Lastly, don’t go wandering about without supervision. Some areas may not be 100% safe, especially if your contractor is working on the roofing, for example.
The benefits of site visits ensure you don’t experience any surprises. Most builders will request at least three site visits at crucial points in the construction cycle. Your superintendent should also provide progress reports to keep you up to date.
During this first important visit to a new construction site, the construction manager will confirm all selections and options have been installed per your purchase agreement and provide insight into building components before they’re covered up with drywall. You will review the framing of the home and all its mechanical systems, including plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems.
Inspecting telephone, cable, and audio/video locations to ensure they have been installed according to construction documents is also part of this process. A reputable company will go over warranty and service procedures, as well as your maintenance responsibilities.
These walkthroughs can take over an hour, so be prepared to devote your time and attention to the task. You may also want to refer to your building checklist and ask any questions about maintenance and warranty procedures. If applicable, you can also bring your purchase agreement and landscape plans to the new construction site.
“Pre-drywall” refers to the point during the construction where the foundational elements, like the flooring, roof, and electrical rough-in, have been installed. It is the last step before the walls cover up the skeletal structure of the building, as well as the electrical and plumbing components.
Construction problems should be addressed during this walkthrough because it is far more difficult to make changes once the drywall is hung. You’ll want to inspect the foundation, make sure the notching on the floor joints is tight and well-aligned, check the joists of the roof system, inspect the plumbing, and make sure HVAC systems are free from debris.
When you make a site visit during this phase, it's the last chance to see what’s behind the walls. It’s common to hire a third-party inspector to ensure everything meets federal health and safety standards, and if any issues do come up, they can be addressed immediately.
A pre-closing walkthrough at a new construction site is the time to discuss any final touches prior to your final walkthrough. Your construction manager will take the time to walk through each room with you, confirming all your requested features are present. It’s a moment to check appliances, light switches, HVAC systems and open and close all doors and windows.
You should take note of any things that need to be rectified, like dented cabinetry, chipped paint, doors that don’t close properly, and malfunctioning appliances. It might feel like a chore, but take your time, and don’t be shy to inspect every nook and cranny. It’s imperative that you make sure your home has everything you requested.
A list of things to inspect includes; working light fixtures, running water, appliances, garage door openers, toilet flashes, ceilings, walls, floors, HVAC, windows, doors, and making sure all debris is removed from your home.
When you make a site visit to a new construction site, it’s important to know what to expect and inspect. There are few things more satisfying than moving into a new home that you’ve created yourself. Planning your site visits can streamline communication and the building process. Of course, working with a reputable contractor is also a must.
Want to remodel, renovate or build your dream home? At Zenith Design + Build, we provide homeowners with unique designs and quality craftsmanship in Des Moines. From exterior transformations to custom home builds, you can find out more about our beautiful projects here.
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