You just bought a new home. Not just one you haven’t lived in before, but a brand new home that no one has lived in. With the speed at which communities are growing in the greater Vancouver and the lower mainland, buying a new home is an increasingly popular choice for homebuyers of all types.
Before you get keys to your new home, you will likely get the opportunity to do an inspection or what is commonly called a homeowner orientation. This is your chance to walk through your house, find out how things work, make sure everything is as you expected, and check for deficiencies. Most builders will have a customer service representative complete the walk through with you and help you with the process.
For a time, my job at Warline was quality control. I tagged the houses for paint deficiencies before homeowners did their walk through. Then our crews could come in and do any touch ups to make sure there were no paint issues when the homeowner went through the house.
In our experience in painting over 800 new homes around Vancouver and its surrounding cities, we have learned that if there were a lot of painting deficiencies when a homeowner did an orientation. This caused their overall satisfaction in the purchase of their home went down. It’s simple – a quality paint job is a good indicator of a quality built home.
I developed a good eye for finding paint problems and I am going to share my list with you so you know what to look for when you complete your walk through. I am sure there will be a number of builders and a few painters who won’t be happy with me for this article. Too bad for them.
Here is what you need:
• A roll of green or blue painter’s tape to tag deficiencies. Just rip a small piece off and lightly stick it where there is a problem.
• Bring a digital camera so that you can take a picture of a room after you have tagged it. That way, when you come back, you will have a reference of where you marked deficiencies to make sure they were addressed.
• Make sure you have allocated enough time for your orientation. Depending on the house size it should take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to go through the process and more, if you are carefully checking the paint.
• Have a clear understanding of what the builder is going to address before you start the orientation.
How to properly inspect an interior paint job:
• Turn on all the lights in the room. Ideally, you want to do your orientation on a sunny day or high overcast, but this is Vancouver and that is not always possible. If you don’t have the advantage of natural light, you just have to be that much more diligent in your inspection. I bring a light with me when I do my paint inspections.
• Start on one side and work your way around a room. Run you hand over walls and make sure they are smooth. Walls should be sanded between coats and they shouldn’t feel rough or have noticeable bits or lint in the paint.
• Check for major and minor marks on the walls. There shouldn’t be any holes, dents, paint drips, or marks on the walls. I always look for staple marks along the top one to two feet from the ceiling. This is where the drywaller stapled plastic to protect walls when the ceilings were textured and can often be missed by the painter when prepping the walls, since they are above eye level.
• Cut lines should be straight. Check along ceilings, around trim and especially anywhere there is a colour change. Those lines should be straight and smooth.
• Look for paint on the ceiling. I can’t tell you how much this bugs me. It is a mark of an amateur painter or a careless one. The same goes for plugs, light stitches, and baseboard heaters. These should all be paint free.
• Check window and door frames and trim. They should be caulked all the way around, including underneath the windowsill, and painted. Nail holes should be filled and sanded before they are painted. Door and window trim should be smooth. Window frames should also be paint free.
• Caulking should always be done before painting. I’ve seen paint jobs where a painter hid his wavy cut lines by caulking afterward. We were hired to repaint the house when all the caulking started to discolour.
• Check windows for paint drops and spittle on both the inside and outside of the glass. While you are standing at the window, this is a good time to check out some of the exterior painting. Make sure there are no paint drips on the roof and that the inside of fascia boards you can see from the window are painted.
• Don’t forget to look at the baseboards. You shouldn’t see nail holes, fill or sanding marks. The proper way to paint baseboards is to paint the wall and then paint the baseboards. The cut line should be straight.
• Doors and bifolds should be painted on all sides. That includes the top and the bottom. To maintain a warranty on a door, most manufacturers require that they be painted on all six sides. I use a compact mirror to check the top of doors if I don’t have something to stand on.
• The insides of closets should be painted with two coats of paint. If there are closet organizers and shelving, make sure that there is no paint on them from the painter cutting around the brackets, instead of painting the closets before the hardware was installed.
• As a new house settles, often cracks in ceiling joints and “popped” drywall screws will appear. Make sure any of these that have already appeared are taken care of before you move in. Most builders will come back at the one-year anniversary of the home warranty to address and repair these things. Most will fix cracks and patch screw pops, but they don’t repaint.
• You should be given a paint touch-up kit with clearly marked, clean paint cans for each colour in the house. Make sure they are labeled with the paint brand, colour number, paint type and finish, in case you ever need to buy more paint.
• Outside, you want to make sure that all the trim is painted properly and has proper coverage. Check decks and garage floors for paint spills and drips. Open the garage door and make sure that the edge of each panel (the piece you only see when the door is opening and closing) is painted. Or every time you sit in your car waiting for your garage door to open, you will notice it and curse.
A note about exteriors
If you are buying your house over the winter months and the exterior painting isn’t finished by the time you move in, don’t panic. A good builder will work with his painter to make sure that the exteriors are painted only when weather conditions allow, ensuring a lasting paint job. A good painter will work with his builder to ensure he has the manpower to get painting done as soon as weather allows and not have homeowners waiting until mid-June to get their house painted.
Remember, there is no perfect house. There will be a few paint tags, even in the best painted home. Often, other trades and cleaners will be in a house after the painter and they sometimes leave marks after the final painting is complete.
But a new home should be well painted from the beginning, and your orientation is the right time to ensure it is. Then, all you have to do is move in and figure out how to keep the kids from touching the walls.