If you're looking to buy a home and are considering going new instead of existing, check out my six tips for buying new home construction.
1. Research the builderNot all home builders are created equal. And not all of them are good. Some home builders have a better reputation than others and their reputation can vary state-by-state and city-by-city. Also, some home builders provide more features in their base prices than others. So it's a good idea to do your due diligence and research the ones you're considering. Some ways to do this are
- See if there is any recent news, good or bad, about them on a local and national level
- Visit some of the home builders newer neighborhoods in your area
- Talk to people you know who've bought homes from them
- Ask to visit the builder's design center before signing a contract
- Find out what's included in the base price and what's not
- Get information about their home warranty to see what is and isn't included
2. Set and stick to a budgetYes, budgeting. A house is one of the largest purchases you will make in your life, which can make this a stressful purchase. Setting and sticking to a budget helps to lessen the stress.
Going into the home buying process I set a max and min budget. This was based on the minimum that would get me the type of house I wanted and the maximum I could and felt comfortable paying. Though my budget changed a few times I ended up purchasing a house for less than I originally planned and have no regrets. It did mean there were several upgrades I had to pass on that would have taken me to the top end of my budget and I just didn't feel comfortable with that.
This is where visiting the design center before signing a contract can come into handy. I was able to do that and see what materials were included in the base price and what materials were upgrades. I also got to take home a pricing sheet so I could price out the cost of the upgrades I was interested in. This allowed me to prioritize what I could and couldn't live without and not feel rushed into making a decision.
3. See the schedule and get a completion dateMy biggest regret is that I didn't insist on seeing a schedule for the construction or insisting they provide a completion date. What I got form the builder was a vague time frame that was three weeks before the date they had in the construction schedule they were working against.
As I'll mention a little later, delays can and will most likely happen, but if you are all working off the same schedule and time frame, you're better able to plan for delays.
4. Continually check inFrom my exposure to the home building process I realized that check-ins with the builder are essential and wish I had done more of them. You can check in with the builder through a couple of ways
- Phone and email. Get the phone numbers and emails for the contractor and sales person. How often you check in with them will depend on your comfort level. I do suggest you keep up to date on where your house is in the process, what is the next step and whether they are still on schedule.
- Visit the construction site. If you live an easy distance from the construction site, it can be helpful to visit it at least once a week to see the progress. I took it a bit further and would visit at least twice a week - once midweek after work and once on Sunday afternoons after church. I found it's best to visit when the construction crews aren't there, then you can actually walk through the house and get a close up look of the progress. If anything doesn't look right or has you concerned document it with picture or video and send it to the contractor and sales person.
5. Plan for delaysDelays can happy for a myriad of reasons such as bad weather, late shipments of materials, not passing inspections. Many of these delays are out of your control and the control of the builder, but you can plan for them. You can do this by making sure you have somewhere to stay should delays happen. This could mean extending your leas for a few weeks, or switch to a month-to-month lease. You could also hit up family or friends for a place to stay.
In my case the delays I experienced were totally the fault of the builder and was something they could have controlled. This is why they ended up paying for my entire move. That doesn't happen often, so it's better to be prepared. I suggest planning for at least two weeks of delays.
Related post: Why I Regretted Buying My House