New home-build quality standards are slipping — and how you can protect yourself

I am going to depart this week from my normal question-and-answer format to tackle a long overdue topic.

I’ve been writing this column for more than 23 years. It was my original goal to help you get the most for your money when you hire a remodeling contractor or a builder to make your housing dreams come true.

Over the years this goal has been distilled to a simple sentence that’s at the bottom of my free newsletter: Do It Right, Not Over! Sadly, as each week passes, I feel like I’m pushing a large boulder up a mountain.

I say this based on what I see with my own eyes and in the vast amount of email and comments I receive each day at and on my YouTube videos.

It’s painfully obvious that you and millions of other homeowners need a quality-control checklist before you start a project. This checklist would allow you to understand what needs to be done so you don’t have to do things over, wasting your valuable money and time.

In the New Hampshire town where I live, a new house is being built. I pass it all the time going to and from town. I decided to stop by as often as possible to take photos and monitor the progress. What I see every time I stop shocks me.

The day the subcontractor poured the footing, I was there. The footing of a home is perhaps the most critical aspect of its construction. The foundation rests on the footing. The footing is in direct contact with the soil underneath, and it must be strong. It needs to have reinforcing steel in it. Period.

Not wanting to bother the workers as the concrete flowed down the chute into the trenches, I marveled at the lack of reinforcing steel in the footing. I was taking photos and…

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