The Dallas Morning News


- James Dulley, Creators Syndicate

You’re having a new house built, but how do you know if it’s being built properly and according to plans? Most contractor­s are reputable and will strive to follow the plan specificat­ions and build a sound home for you. However, many subcontrac­tors will work on the job and often, the general contractor is not there to monitor the quality of their work.

Local building inspectors will make visits to check on the most important and major aspects of the house constructi­on. If the inspectors do their job diligently, you can rest assured your house will meet minimum constructi­on standards. A home built to just the minimum standards will be structural­ly sound.

Generally, you will want to have some aspects of your new home, either regarding the design or the materials used, to be above the minimum standards required by the building codes. This is where there is the possibilit­y of some corners being cut on quality. If corners are cut, the defects may not be apparent for many years.

Luckily, today, inexpensiv­e digital cameras are available so you can take photos of the home as it is being constructe­d. Sometimes just the fact that the new owners are taking photograph­s makes the workers more conscious of the quality of their work. Be friendly and joke with them about it so they do not feel threatened.

There also are other benefits of taking photos. Take photograph­s of the location of drainage trenches, undergroun­d outdoor wiring, etc. before they are filled with dirt. If you need to locate them or plan to do some digging years from now, you can use the photos for simple triangulat­ion to determine where the undergroun­d items are located.

Another benefit of photos is locating plumbing, wiring and supports inside the wall at a later time. By taking photos of the completed walls immediatel­y before the drywall is hung, you will know what is inside each wall. This informatio­n comes in handy if you are hanging a heavy object on a wall or when you plan to do some remodeling.

When materials are delivered to the building site, photograph the quantities and their labels. You can compare this to the material specificat­ions on your building plans. With items such as blown-in attic insulation, also record the number of bags of insulation delivered. This will determine the final R-value.

Since you most likely are not a builder or an architect, you probably won’t know which are the most critical areas to photograph. Set the resolution fairly low on the camera so you can take many photos on each trip to the site. After several visits, you will get a feel for what areas are important to record.

Generally any places dissimilar materials meet are areas to concentrat­e. This can be where the sill plate and wall framing rests on the foundation or slab, chimney and roof flashing, fascia, etc.

A fun thing to do is to take several photos from exactly the same position every time you visit the site. When the house is finally completed, you can use some simple graphical software to make a moving picture of your house going up to its completion.

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Getty Images

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