Q: I just read your answer to the writer about things to beware of when building a new home. The writer had had a bad experience building his dream house.

I had a very similar experience. People really need to be aware of what can go wrong when building a new home with an independent builder — even if they have references that check out.

We spent almost 12 months building our dream home only to back out at the last minute because of workmanship issues and material and structural defects that somehow escaped the building commissioner of that town.

After contacting an attorney, we were able to retrieve our money (most of it anyway) and look elsewhere.

A: Thanks for sharing your story.

As you probably now realize, local building inspectors don’t have time to look at everything. If a building inspector is doing the electrical inspection, he or she doesn’t generally have time to look at the carpentry work.

But many new home buyers think the building inspector is a line of defense protecting them from buying a badly-built new home. Unfortunately, this is a huge misunderstanding on the buyer’s part. Another misconception is that if a home meets building codes, it’s safe.

This sounds like it should be true, but just because something is built to code, or appears to be built to code, doesn’t necessarily mean its well built.

One way to protect yourself would have been to hire a professional home inspector to inspect your newly constructed house at four key points: After the foundation is poured, after the walls go up, after the house is plumbed but before the drywall is put up, and before closing.

If you did this and chose a reputable professional home inspector, your home may have been built better — or not, but at least you would have known a little sooner.

Another way to check out independent builders is to talk to a half dozen homeowners, or more, who have purchased homes from this builder over the past few years. Ask these homeowners how well the house has stood the test of time. Were they happy with the builder? Did the builder come back to fix things that went wrong?

I’m glad you were able to get your money (or most of it). And sorry you wasted a year of your time waiting for this house. There are good builders out there. I know you’ll find one next time.

Published: July 1, 2004