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Problems with newly built homes cause grief

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Buyers may suppose that if a home is new, it doesn't need inspecting. New homes can have defects even though there were just built. City building inspectors are human and prone to error like the rest of us. So just because a house received a final completion notice from the local building agency, it doesn't mean that it's free of imperfections. For example, some new homes built after the Oakland Hills, Calif., fire of 1991 did not have adequate crawlspace ventilation. As a result, many of these new homes developed water-related damage such as dry rot and fungus just a few years after they were built. In one case, an elderly homeowner in Oakland's Upper Rockridge neighborhood sold her 3-year-old home in order to move to a retirement home. The pre-sale termite report revealed that the entire front stair and porch system had rotted and needed to be replaced. The cost to rebuild was $25,000. A second inspector was consulted who concurred; his bid was only marginally lower. It never occurre...

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