Certificate of Occupancy
Something many people are unaware of is that when buying a brand new home, you can close escrow on the house without all the required municipal inspections having been finalized!  While inspecting "new construction" homes, I often perform what is called a final walk-through.  This is a summary inspection designed to ensure that all components have been properly constructed and all areas properly finished. I have noted with regularity, that homes are being closed on and turned over to the new owner, often times on the very day of my inspection, without what is called a Certificate of Occupancy having been issued.   

A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is a document given by the municipal inspection department, certifying that the structure is safe and suitable for human habitation.  One part of the issuance of a CO, is to verify that the building inspection record is complete, with all inspections having been performed and signed off on.  A Certificate of Occupancy is an important protection for you, the buyer.

In this particular locality, a formal Certificate of Occupancy is only issued if requested (either by you, your lender, or your builder, etc.). This appears to be the only trigger mechanism in place, that generates the issuance of a CO.   Remember, once you close escrow, what incentive does the builder have to respond quickly to your requests if you notice any defects that may need to be repaired?  Of course, a top-notch builder who cares about his reputation will always be responsive to the concerns of his customer. . .but, what about those who aren't top-notch?  To protect yourself, always ask for a full Certificate of Occupancy, before you close escrow.

See New Home Warranties for more information on some of the many warranties associated with the labor performed on your new home, and on the products & components installed.




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