Buying “new construction” is an exciting undertaking. Unlike buying an existing home, you’ll get to make it your own before turning the key for the first time. Here are ten tips to keep in mind as you begin your home building journey.
- Establish a Set Budget. When it comes to establishing a budget for your new home, being a prudent homeowner is highly recommended. Therefore, you should plan on paying a 20% down payment on your new home and your monthly housing expense (principal, interest, tax, insurance, and association fee) at 25% of your income.
- Get Everything in Writing. Having a lawyer review your initial contract and any subsequent amendments is highly recommended. Here are a few items to look for in the contract: (i) a “cooling off” period; (ii) payment schedule; (iii) timeframe for completion; (iv) included plans and specifications, warranties and insurance protection; and no blank spaces. Be clear about what changes are allowed once you “sign off” on the final plans. Two addendums you should include are (a) “all changes must be clearly documented & mutually agreed upon” and “time is of the essence.”
- Stay Informed. Ask the builder for regular updates. Have somebody take pictures of the progress so you have evidence of any issues that may arise.
- Be Patient. Delays will happen. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Prepare for Hidden Costs. Does the developer’s estimate include “Finishing Costs”? How about zoning or CDD fees? Does your estimate include utility hookups, such a electric and gas meters? What about internet service wiring and installation? Are there estimates for your exterior, such as landscaping, concrete decks or brick pavers, fences and entries, or a mailbox? Try to think of every expense associated with your new home so that your estimate is as close to perfect as possible and that you have adequate financing in place to cover every expense. Ask about closing costs and developer contributions, if any.
- Choose the Right Builder. It’s always a good idea to read online reviews, talk to residents in the new community about their experience, and see if any complaints are filed against them on USA.gov – consumer complaints, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau. Also check to see if they are registered with the National Association of Home Builders. Lastly, are they good at communication? The last thing you want is to feel in the dark whilst waiting on your new home to be built.
- Hire a Private Home Inspector (HI). Look for a home inspector with a current or prior Residential Contractor or General Contractor license. This type of person will know all the building materials and methods used in the construction industry. Their job is to ensure the structure is built up to code and complies with the municipal and HOA regulations and CC&Rs. Having the new home inspected by a 3rd party will help you rest easy at night while you wait. There are four stages of construction which warrant an updated inspection: (i) Foundations & Footings: the HI will check the slabs, foundations, drains and form work; (ii) Framing: the HI will check that the walls are straight & level, verify room dimensions, and ceiling height and roof lines all conforming to the plans & specs; (iii) Lock Up: This is the stage where the windows and doors have been installed. The HI will check the frames, seals, window flashing, brick and mortar work, and electric and plumbing; (iv) Final Inspection (Pre-Handover): At this point your home should be ready for a Certificate of Occupancy. Your HI will check for final interior/exterior finishings, paint, tile, carpet, wood flooring, cabinetry, windows & doors, and hardware, as well as inspect the site to ensure it is clear of any remaining materials or debris.
- Create an Image File. You will be looking at plenty of options for creating your new home just the way you want it, and trying to convey a mental image of the vision for what you want each room to look like is quite tricky. So, why not save images that demonstrate what you want? This will help you communicate your requests to the builder and other 3rd parties more succinctly.
- Think About the Little Things. Having electrical, telephone and internet outlets installed after drywall & insulation are installed is practically impossible to have done, so be sure to think about where you want your TVs mounted and cable boxes set prior to the electrical installation date. Do you plan on enjoying afternoon on the patio in the shade? The direction of your new home and where the sun sets will impact whether or not this happens. Keep shady sunsets in mind when you are looking at available lots. Location is important! By the way, corner lots are usually bigger and offer more privacy (one neighbor instead of two), so you’ll likely be charged a premium for it.
- Lastly, Begin With the End in Mind. Will this be your “forever” home or your “retirement retreat”? Whether you plan to grow a family in a home that you’ll spend the rest of your life in, or one you will approach your golden years in, take time to envision the lifestyle you want for yourself (and your growing family, perhaps) before you select a new home development.
In closing, buying a new home is fun when you think of the construction details with a business-like approach, and the community lifestyle & interior design with your heart. We wish you a successful journey in pursuit of your “forever” home!
Coleman Tanner Realty – Your Home for Real Estate Solutions!
To schedule a Home Buyer Consultation, we can be reached at (786) 258-8877 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coleman Tanner Realty is an Equal Opportunity Housing provider.