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How to check for defects in new homes – Checklist, tips and photo examples


In this article, we share a checklist for defect checks at new homes, based on the experience of a Malaysian homeowner checking for defects in his new home during the Defect Liability Period (DLP). 

© gahsoon/ gettyimages

This article was translated from Cara periksa defect rumah baru – Checklist, tips dan contoh gambar by Khairul Khalid.

For homeowners, it is always joyful news to hear that the construction of your house is completed and the keys will be handed over soon. You can imagine how you will start furnishing or renovating your home to your liking. However, before you jump into that, you need to check that the home does not have any defects. This should be the main priority as soon as vacant possession is delivered, besides setting up your utilities in your new place.

What is Defect Liability Period (DLP)?

For buyers of new launch properties (under-con) – there will be a period called the Defect Liability Period (DLP), upon completion of the property.

DLP which runs for 24 months is a guarantee period for homebuyers where any defects in the property will be rectified by the developer without any additional cost. The liability period starts from the delivery of vacant possession, where the keys to your unit is handed over by the developer.

To avoid any disputes with the developer over who or what caused the defects, be sure to do the home inspection and submit the list of defects before you do any renovation or fitting works. Do note that the defect assessment does not cover the materials used, design and aesthetics of the property.

In this article, Abdul Hanif, 31, a homeowner from Johor, will share his experience of checking his home for defects during the DLP.

Tools needed to check for home defects

Before the date of the check, prepare some necessary equipment as follows:

1. Adhesive tape (Masking tape)

Do not use adhesives or paper stickers as they can easily be removed and dampened during rain.

2. Flashlight

Flashlights may help you see the effects of the defects by shining light on hidden space that could be invisible to the naked eye.

3. Marker pen and stickers

Choose clear and bright colours for writing. Use a marker pen that washes out easily to erase the markings on the masking tape later.

4. Notebook

To take notes and keep a record of any defects. Write down the location of each defect.

5. Camera or mobile phone with a camera

Take pictures of each defect found in your home as evidence and future reference.

6. Tapping rod

This will be used to check the hollowness of tiles throughout your house.

Engage a home checking service if you can afford it

If you have the budget, you can also engage a home defect checking service. Abdul Hanif had his own reasons why he chose to seek a home defect checking service.

“I wanted to make sure that my house was checked thoroughly. I bought the house at a very expensive price, so I wanted to make sure that I was fully satisfied,” he told us.

Home defect checklist: What to check

If you are still confused about where to start checking for home defects, Abdul Hanif shared his experience on the day of checking.

Start with a general check first

Step 1: Check the walls – Observe all the walls in your home areas. In addition to making sure that they are painted properly, take note of any cracks or watermarks (signs of water leakage) on the walls.

Check every nook and cranny thoroughly before you move in. After you move into your new home, identifying defects will be harder because they might be hidden behind your home furniture or decorations.

Any repairs will also be more difficult because you would have to move existing furniture. Also, take note of any black mould or moss on the wall. Next, check for any undulations on the wall fittings. These undulations might indicate that the walls have not been plastered properly.

Step 2: Check the floors/tiles – Check for cracks, uneven surfaces, porous tiles and faded colours. Make sure that the tiles are evenly connected to the walls.

Step 3: Ceilings – Take note of any looseness, dirt, cracks, uneven paint or watermarks.

Step 4: Cabinets and countertops –  Other than checking for scratches, also check drawers and closets to make sure that they can be opened and closed properly.

Start your checks in areas outside your home

You can make claims against the developer for any defects found starting from your gate, but certainly not outside it! These include any damages or cracks in the small drains at the side of the house, cracks on the walls outside the house and others.

Step 5: Does your gate function? If it is rusty or unlockable, mark the defects for repainting or repair works.

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Rusty gate with poor workmanship (steel sticking out of cement). © Abdul Hanif

Step 6: Check the mailbox? Is it still good or is it damaged?

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Glass on a damaged mailbox. ©Abdul Hanif

Step 7: If your outdoor area has drainage, make sure that the drain is not cracked or damaged. Also, make sure that the rainwater drainage to the drain is not clogged.

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Clogged rainwater drainage. © Abdul Hanif

Step 8: In the parking area, check for any cracks in the cement or tap on each tile to identify hollow tiles. If hollow tiles are not replaced, the heavy weight of cars will eventually break them.

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Make sure to tap on each tile to identify any hollow tiles. © Abdul Hanif

Step 9: Next, look at the walls outside your home. Are they nicely painted? Are there any cracks on the outer walls?

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Check all installations that were promised by the developer (electrical and sanitary points)

The Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) signed for newly built homes will state all the installations for every room in the house. On the day of checking, make sure that all of these installations have been completed.

As a homeowner, Abdul Hanif had asked the developer to provide a fitting checklist. This will further facilitate the process of marking and determining any incomplete installations. Make sure that there is sufficient space and mark if there are no incomplete installations.

periksa electrical and sanitary point
© Abdul Hanif

Step 10: Checking the electrical system of a new home

  • Light – Switch on all lights to make sure they work without any flickering and there aren’t any missing bulbs. Make sure all switches are properly installed and not loose.
  • Air conditioning – Make sure additional accessories such as remote controls are included and in working order.
  • Electric power source – Bring any electrical items such as small lamps or phone chargers to test the power supply sockets.
  • Electric panel – You may need to hire an electrician to keep all the wiring in good and safe condition. Make sure that no wiring is exposed.
  • Doorbell – If installed, press the bell to make sure it functions.

Step 11: Checking the plumbing system of a new home

  • Fixtures and faucets – Make sure that all pipes are in working order and check for any scratches or leaks. If it is a mixed plumbing, make sure that hot and cold water comes out of the right channels.
  • Water heater – Turn it on and let the water run to check if it works. Make sure the temperature is okay and the water heater is suitable for daily use.
  • Water pressure – If the water pressure is too low, there may be problems with your plumbing system.
  • Toilet bowl – Drop some toilet paper and flush the toilet to make sure that it doesn’t clog.
  • Drain – Let the water run to check whether the drainage system is functioning. It is important to make sure that the drainage system works properly so that the water flows smoothly. This check should be done in the kitchen, bathroom and sink.
  • Sink, bathtub and shower – Make sure that the water flows out easily. There should not be any traces of minerals or rust on the tub, shower and wall.

➡️ New homeowners may also refer to this home assessment handbook by CIDB which details how owners can check for defects using the CIS 7 (standard developed to control the quality of workmanship for building work projects in Malaysia.

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Turn on the faucets to ensure that the water is not stagnant. © Abdul Hanif
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Shine your flashlight on the drain to ensure that it is not clogged and stagnant. © Abdul Hanif.

Check doors and windows in all areas

Step 12: Check if all of the doors and windows work. Make sure to open each door and window and test if they are functioning properly and can be re-locked. Take note of any cracks in the glass windows.

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Open all the windows in the house to make sure that they function properly. © Abdul Hanif

Remember to mark each defect found and note where the defect is located. Remember to take pictures as evidence and reference.

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Example of a damaged window that cannot be shut. Remember to mark the defect. © Abdul Hanif

Report and record all defects in the form provided by the developer

Step 13: After you have finished recording all the home defects, remember to write all the information in the form provided by the developer. Obtain a copy of the form submitted for the home owner’s reference.

If you enjoyed this guide, read this next: How to make sure your home defects are fixed properly during the DLP?

Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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