If you’re thinking about building a new home, it’s clearly very important to choose the right builder. A new home is one of the largest investments you will make, and we’re often asked by friends and family members outside of our area how to choose the best home builder. You want to be sure you’re getting a quality product that will provide you with years of comfort, shelter, and enjoyment. There are some important things you need to know to make the process of building your new home as hassle-fee, rewarding, and pleasant as possible.
First Arrange Financing for Your New Home
First, be sure you can obtain the necessary financing to build a new home. A pre-approved construction mortgage establishes your budget and financial credibility with builders and realtors. After you have selected a builder and are ready to begin the construction process, you can apply for the actual loan with your choice of lending institution.
It’s important to know that a conventional mortgage, like those obtained when buying an existing home, are not generally used for new construction. Because you’re asking the lending institution to invest in something that doesn’t yet exist, you’ll most likely be applying for a construction loan and will need to provide the lender with a project timeline, realistic budget, and list of construction details. These details will probably include floor plans, building materials, and other details like ceiling heights. This is reason enough to work with a qualified, licensed builder with an established reputation and lots of experience. They can provide you with the necessary information to secure your future loan.
Know Your Vision for a New Home
Be sure you have a clear idea of the type of home you want to build. Have drawings and specifications that showcase the overall design and features that are important to you, so the builder can determine if they can support your vision. Most problems occur when there are variations from the original drawings, which can include substantial costs to implement. It’s easier to make changes to a drawing before construction has begun, than it is to move a wall later in the process.
Consult a Realtor Who Specializes in New Homes
Using a realtor is becoming more and more intelligent in the minds of people when building a new home. A realtor can direct you to builders who specialize in the type of home you are looking for, as well as provide information on the potential areas you’re interested in. They are also very good at negotiating. A realtor can negotiate with builders for things such as lower prices on upgrades, home warranties, and closing cost responsibility. A good realtor who specializes in new home construction will understand important topics like floor plans and blueprints and be able to discuss information found in soil samples, property grading issues, and water analysis reports. These are just some of the reasons RKA Construction started our own real estate office for new construction. It benefits us as well as the customer, so it’s a win win.
Do Your Homework on Builders and New Construction
Before you select a builder, be sure to do your homework. Take tours of recently constructed homes, talk with former clients about their experience with the builder. Was the builder easy to work with? How did the builder respond to questions and concerns before and after construction? Is the homeowner happy with the house? Research the company online and check reviews, testimonials, and BBB reports. Be sure the builder has a good back office staff who can address any issues that may arise during the process.
Tour Model Homes When Possible
Tour model homes to gain knowledge about the construction techniques and styles. Keep in mind that model homes may contain upgrades and extra features not included in the standard model. It’s good to know that upgrades are one of the easiest things to negotiate with the builder. They are often willing to discount these items rather than reduce the overall price of the home.
Conduct Interviews with Potential Home Builders in Your Area
After you have narrowed your search to those builders who look good on paper, it’s time to do in person interviews and find the builder who best compliments your new home expectations and communication style. A good builder will be open to questions, provide you with a timeline and comprehensive estimate, and be open about information on the products they use and relationships with contractors and others who will be involved in the construction of your home. There are many decisions that go into the construction process, and it’s imperative that your builder understand your expectations and be available to address any questions or concerns you may have throughout the process.
Understand the Purchase Agreement
The builder will typically have their own version of a purchase agreement that varies from the traditional buyer’s agreement used by real agents in the purchase of an existing home. There may be verbiage in the contract that favors the builder, and it’s critical that your agent receive a copy as soon as possible for review. Your real estate agent should pay special attention to terms and deadlines and keep you informed. For instance, some builder’s contracts will not allow you to terminate a contract when finding issues after the inspection repairs should have been completed, and instead insist on addressing the issues themselves.
Read Up on the Home’s Warranty
Home warranties are very important, and your builder should offer a reliable and accredited warranty that is easily understood. Most warranties cover workmanship and materials for things like heating, windows, and air conditioning and are typically one to three years, depending on the component being covered. A ten year warranty may be offered for major structural defects, such as a roof repair. It’s a good idea to have your realtor go over this information with you.
Inspect the Home Before Taking Delivery
Once construction has been completed, an inspection done by an independent company is critical. Municipal inspections will confirm that a building meets code requirements but are not nearly as thorough as those performed by independent inspectors who are looking out for a future homeowner’s best interests. This step can save you from having to do costly repairs in the future and is another reason that your real estate agent should pay special attention to the details of the builder’s purchase contract.
If you work with the right builder, the process of building a new home can be a rewarding experience and provide you with years of enjoyment. Understanding the process and maintaining open communication with your builder will help you get the new home you want. If you’re looking to build a new home in the Lehigh Valley or the Poconos, please don’t hesitate to contact us to help you in the process.