5 Things to Know Before Buying a New Construction Home
A new construction home offers the ultimate blank canvases for a homebuyer who has a long house-hunting wish list. Do weigh these important considerations before designing and building your dream home.
Choosing the right home can be overwhelming due to the number of variables involved: location, size, budget, style, and timing. One of the first decisions you need to reach is whether to purchase a new or existing home. New construction homes can be attractive to buyers wanting to move into a house with modern conveniences and zero wear and tear. Often, they also offer buyers the opportunity to be involved in the design and build process. That said, they aren’t for everyone. To help you navigate this large purchase decision and narrow down your search, this guide explores the ins and outs of buying a new construction home.
1. Choose the right builder and location.
Start by researching reputable home builders in your area and talk to previous home buyers if possible. You can read testimonials on builder websites and social media pages or ask for references. It’s also smart to reach out to friends and family members who have recently built new homes and ask them about their experiences. In addition to researching a builder’s reputation, there are some other key things to consider when choosing a builder: the starting price of homes, customization options, builder insurance, home warranty package, and typical build time. Drive through different neighborhoods to see the homes in person to evaluate the quality of the homes and overall feel of the community.
New construction neighborhoods typically crop up away from city centers where there is more land, which could impact your commute. Moving into a new-build community has other perks, though: the building company handles all permits, hires the contractors, and manages the entire build process. Should you decide to take more of a DIY approach, you can select your own plot of land but you have to hire everyone from the architects to the contractors on your own.
2. New homes offer several customization options.
A major perk of building a new home from the ground up is the ability to choose every last detail, from the exact hardwood flooring stain to the placement of light switches. Opportunities for customization typically include structural options, design elements, exterior elevations, and more. If your house hunting wish list is long and you are not willing to compromise, buying a new construction home may meet these needs better than buying an existing home that has been built to somebody else’s specifications.
If you have trouble making decisions but still like the idea of a new build, you can opt for the standard features that come with the base level price or, conversely, purchase a fully loaded model home. A middle ground would be to find a home that is already under construction. The main structural elements will likely already be determined, but you’ll still have time to make some selections regarding cosmetic details like carpet color, countertops, and cabinet style.
3. Upgrades can be pricey when buying a new construction home.
Most new construction builders offer a collection of floor plans ranging in cost based on total square footage, number of rooms, layout, and home design. Be aware that the prices advertised are the base prices and may not include all of those upgrades discussed earlier. To get an accurate quote before proceeding with the build, review all optional items with the builder or salesperson and let them know which features are most important to you.
Homebuyers with strict budgets may wish to only upgrade a few items or stick with the standard features. (Remember: You can always add additional upgrades like a chandelier light fixture or custom fireplace mantel down the line.) Do prioritize certain upgrades like room extensions, extra windows, higher ceiling height, and plumbing, as these elements could cost more in the long run if not done in advance.
A money-saving tip: Select all design options within the designated time frame to avoid any change fees.
4. Be aware of the timing of a new build.
The lead-time for a new build is usually 8 to 10 months. This could be a deal-breaker if you need to be out of your current home by a certain date. However, if the timing isn’t a concern and your builder only requires a small deposit upfront, you might be able to continue saving money while you wait for your new home to be built. (All builders are different, so check in about payment expectations.) If you’re looking to move quickly, you can typically find new construction homes that are further along in the build process. Some builders even have an inventory of quick-close homes that you can move into right away.
5. You won’t have to worry about costly repairs or maintenance issues for a while.
If the term ‘fixer-upper’ makes you cringe, buying a new construction home might be the way to go. You won’t have to worry about the age of the furnace or wonder if the roof has ever been replaced. Touring a new build won’t turn up outdated appliances, cracks in the walls, or signs of water damage. When you purchase a new build, everything should be in superb working condition. Thus, any minor repairs or necessary maintenance will likely cost less in new homes.
As with any home purchase, buyers should still schedule a home inspection with a certified professional in case of any unexpected findings like leaky faucets, cracked windows, exposed nails, or paint chips. Be prepared to review your new home warranty in advance so you understand what’s covered. For new construction homes, limited builder warranties are usually included at no additional cost (unlike with existing homes) and typically cover structural repairs for up to one year.