During the real estate purchase process, you should always have a professional inspection completed to ensure there won't be any stressful or expensive surprises in your near future. This is true whether you buy a home from a current resident or whether you have someone build a brand new home for you. But you should also inspect new construction and remodels on your home yourself so you know what questions to ask your contractor or inspector.
In addition to looking around the home and yard, it's a good idea to get in the attic and basement to do an inspection. One thing you want to look for is rotten or damaged wood. Even in new construction, wood might have been damaged during construction and could cause risks to the structures. Check support beams, flooring and other critical wood components.
Check all electrical components of the home. Do all outlets work? Do they provide the right amount of power? Listen for odd hums or clicks, and check installed components such as HVAC units and water heaters for the same thing.
Look at the foundation outside of the home and in the basement. Do you see any cracks? You shouldn't see cracks or odd foundation lines in new construction unless they were put there on purpose. Ask your builder about any cracks to determine if they occurred because of defects.
If you catch defects in a timely manner, you might be able to enforce your contract to ensure the issues are handled by the contractor. If you are having trouble getting resolution on your defects, then a construction attorney might be able to help.
Source: Popular Mechanics, "Home Inspection Checklist: 25 Places to Watch," Jim Gorman, accessed April 29, 2016