When you have a new home built for you, just before you take possession, you will spend a couple of hours walking around the house with the builder and a notebook. This is a critically important part of buying a home because this is where you check for all the errors and omissions. If you do this well, you and your builder will be on the same page, when finishing up the house.
Although you usually make a methodical walk through the house, I like to think of always answering three questions:
Was it done right? Is it missing? Does it work?
Was it done right? Were building techniques and materials done according to your plans and specifications as well as according to the building code and manufacturers installation instructions? As a homeowner you may not be able to answer all these questions, but you can certainly look for things that are not as you expected them to be and ask questions.
Is it missing? Did you expect something that is not there, like a light fixture or plumbing fixture? Are the downspouts in place?
Does it work? Try out every door, every drawer, every lock, every faucet and every window mechanism. It is a bit of work but better to find problems now than after you have moved in.
Some things should be fixed before you take possession, others may have to wait for delivery, but they should all be listed.
What is the balance between nitpicking a builder and getting ripped off? You should have received and have installed everything that you paid for. As for the quality of construction, remember that will be proportional to the price you paid. You cannot expect perfect trim in a starter home and should not accept poorly installed trim in a custom upscale home.
For a lot more information on the PDI you might want to visit the "Ontario New Home Waranty Program's" web site. You can also attend one of my cross country Get It In Writing seminars or click here to visit the "GIIW" web site.