There's a lot of different reasons that people choose to build their homes instead of buy, including the idea that they can have everything exactly as they want it to be from the start. Unfortunately, a brand new build can still come with problems—just not the same ones that you expect with older homes. New appliances, installed when the home was built, can often be a problem. Whose responsibility is it if the builder is finished when the buyer finds out that the dryer isn't vented properly, the washer won't fit through the door of the washroom, or there are other defects regarding your new home's appliances? You should be asking the following questions before purchasing the home.
Do you have a builder's warranty?
Most new homes go through a year's worth of "settling" and have to be seen through each season to see if there are any particular problems arise. For example, if the duct work is all wrong for the air conditioning and leaves half the house too hot in the summer, you may not realize it until after it's really been put to the seasonal test. Similarly, plumbing and electrical defects also often don't show up right away.
Home insurance doesn't cover these things, which could leave you with a serious case of "new house blues" unless your builder gave you a warranty as well. Most builders, fortunately, rely on their reputations to keep themselves in work, so they often give new-home buyers limited warranties to look for defects and will come back and make repairs and adjustments as necessary during that time.
What are the limits of the builder's warranty?
If you find a defect in your new home, dig out the builder's warranty and read it carefully to see if it specifically addresses your particular problem. Normally, if the defect is a design flaw (no vent for the dryer), the builder will come back and fix it by building the proper vent as soon as you realize that it's missing. Mistakes like that do happen and are easy to miss, even on inspection.
However, if the defect is a manufacturer's defect (the dryer itself won't work), the problem is likely to be something you have to take up with the item's manufacturer. Your builder probably left you with a stack of registration forms that you hopefully filled out in order to get a warranty in your name on each of those high-ticket items. You'll likely have to contact the manufacturer to get the item fixed because, even though the contractor supplied the appliances, he or she transferred their warranty and ownership to you.
Will your contractor be willing to swap out an item after recent construction?
What if you never filled out the warranty card or transferred ownership of something that's not working? If it's only been a month or so, it never hurts to ask if the contractor will swap out the defective item for one that's working. Most contractors can arrange to get replacement appliances easier than a homeowner. However, if more than a month or so has passed, the contractor is going to be less likely to take this step.
Ideally, you can take steps to prevent these sorts of things from happening by staying in close contact with your contractor throughout the building process. Maintaining a friendly relationship afterward is also important as you figure out what does and does not need a little extra work. For more information, talk to a contractor in your area.