Publications and Newsletters

2017 Newsletter

Demanding Inspector = Buyer Protection

When purchasing a waterfront home or property located in a FEMA Flood Zone, I require seeing a Flood Elevation Certificate prior to proposing my service. This is necessary to provide a flood risk assessment which is part of my inspection service. It may require more time necessary for due diligence.  (more information regarding FEMA can be seen in my other newsletters and in Post Disaster Structural Services section of website)

When purchasing a home of new construction or a recent major renovation, I require a review of the local building department files. It will require more time necessary for due diligence. (see purchasing new construction newsletter)

When clients hear of these requirements they may view me as being difficult.  They are probably right!  However, these requirements are for the protection of any client I am working for. I am a stickler when it comes to providing my clients with as much expertise as possible to help them make an educated decision for their most important investment.

2016 Newsletter

Inspection of Completed New Construction

& Major Reconstruction or Post Disaster Reconstruction

By

Peter A. Schkeeper, P.E., F. NSPE

New Construction Home Inspections Require a Licensed Professional Engineer or Architect

As a professional engineer experienced with construction defect litigation support I know first-hand how easy it is for new construction to cover up significant material defects. Poorly trained, poorly supervised workers lacking adequately detailed instruction can result in bad work. A nice finish can distract even a good observer.

New construction requires a different approach than when inspecting existing buildings. New construction generally does not display shrinkage or settlement, and workmanship errors may be obscured by the new finishes. Understanding how the designer intended the structure to be assembled, the materials to be used, and how the code inspections progressed are all important factors to evaluate. These critical factors generally go unseen during a visual inspection.

Caveat Emptor: Closing the New Construction Loop with a Professional Inspection

Very few new construction projects have inspection services provided by their design professional or by third party inspectors during the construction period. Buyers of new construction should have an engineering inspection performed by a licensed NJ Professional Engineer or a NJ Registered Architect. The NJ Home Inspection Professional Licensing Act home inspection regulations do not apply to new homes. The licensing act specifically excludes new homes and states: “…shall not include any such structure newly constructed and not previously occupied.”  (N.J.S.A. 45:8-62) NJ Home Inspectors are not licensed for new home inspections. Engineers and architects are licensed for the design of the structure and all systems within a home so they do not need to refer further review to technical specialists as is so often done by home inspectors.

When inspecting a newly constructed home, a new addition, or a major renovation, it is important to begin with a review of all construction documents including the Architect Drawings and a review of the local Building Department records. The details defined as well as the details not defined in the construction documents are very instructive in guiding the engineer or architect in their condition assessment.

Understanding how the home was to be constructed, the type of materials that were to be used, and the history of issues that developed during the construction process is critical. Observations of how structures are located on the property including surrounding topography are needed to understand how roof and surface water drainage is being managed. Visual condition observations of hundreds of items are needed, including all Structural systems (roof, building frame, foundation, basement, crawl basements, exterior and interior walls); Waterfront structures (bulkheads, piers, docks); Building covering systems and penetrations (roof covering, building siding, windows, doors, flashing and sealing systems); Property (site facilities, drainage, retaining walls, property safety, parking); Electrical system; Plumbing system; Mechanical systems (heating, ventilation, air conditioning); plus special features such as EIFS, or client requirements such as Radon testing, or other engineering inspection or testing needs. Photo documentation helps to illustrate the observations. Summarized findings specifically written for the particular home are needed to assure a clear understanding of issues identified and complete a new construction home inspection.

A NJ OPRA (official public records act) request is necessary to obtain approval of the building department records so additional time may be necessary for the inspection process. It may take up to one week to obtain approval to review these files, so please advise your attorney to allow adequate time for this due diligence to be performed.

Without doubt the investment in new construction inspection by a licensed professional engineer or architect is an expenditure a new home or building owner should make to understand the condition of the property being purchased.

 

The Smart Consumers Guide to Home Buying by Peter A. Schkeeper P.E., Jack P. Friedman Ph.D. and Jack C. Harris, Ph.D.

REVIEW: “I bought my first home in 1963. I have bought and sold homes four times since, so I have gone through the exercise five times. I thought I had a pretty good comprehension of the process, but reading this book tells me that I was probably aware of less than 50% of important details that are not apparent to the average consumer. This book is crammed with ideas, scenarios, guidance, and caveats, some of them expressed in extreme detail. The financial guidance and calculation worksheets alone are worth the price of the book. This book should be in the hands of every homebuyer, including first timers and experienced ones such as I. My next move will likely be to a downsized residence. I will definitely use some of the planning techniques to allow my wife and me to prioritize our true needs.” -Bernard Berson

TV Interview – News 12 NJ “Its You Money”

Interview: The Dave Baum Show - Buying a Home

Peter A Schkeeper, P.E. has been quoted at Oprah.com and at realestate.msn.com.

“With keen knowledge and insight, Peter Schkeeper has brought together all the elements of shrewd and prudent real estate investment. This is definitely the book for anyone planning to buy a home.” -Home Owner

“Peter Schkeeper and his colleagues know what they are talking about. They say it in a manner that makes complex concepts not only interesting but easy to grasp.” -Attorney

SOX, Risk, and an Engineer on Board: Director Summary: Managing risk is an ongoing responsibility of the board. Assessing risk can be a challenge. The authors aver that engineers have the requisite skill sets, training, and objectivity for problem solving, contingency planning, and overall risk analysis essential for a successful board. Published by the National Association of Corporate Directors.

On The Home Front: The National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers takes a stand for the PE’s role in the inspection of homes and commercial buildings. Published in PE The Magazine for Professional Engineers by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Physical Exam of Aging Buildings: Physical Exam of Aging Buildings: Published by the CIP Report George Mason University, School of Law, Center for Infrastructure Protection.

Quarterly Newsletters

Fourth Quarter 2014

  • Did You Get a Visit from Sandy?
  • Roof Water Runoff Control

First Quarter 2015

  • FEMA to Review Flood Damage Claims
  • Roof Warranties

Second Quarter 2015

  • The Infrastructure Video You Must See
  • How to Access FEM Preliminary Flood Map Data

Fourth Quarter 2015

  • Wind Driven Rain
  • How Good is Code Compliance?