7 Tips For Building A New House

When I decided to become a homeowner I had my mindset on buying an existing home because of all of the horror stories I’d heard about building a house. Because of this when I researched the process of buying a house I focused on the existing home purchase process.

Related read on my financial blog: How I Decided I Was Ready To Buy My First House

After looking at several older homes I came to the realization that building a house would be the best way to get the type of house I would looking for and wanted. Little did I know that the process of building a home involved so many more considerations than buying an existing home.

7 Tips For Building A New House | A Relaxed Gal

(I am not a financial expert. All information is based on my own personal experience and research. This information is not meant to be financial advice and is just for educational purposes. This post includes some affiliate links. Should you click an affiliate link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

After going through the experience of building a house there are a few things I wish I'd known beforehand and a few things I wish I could go back and do differently. But since I can’t I thought I’d share my learnings with you.

If you're looking to buy a home and are considering going new instead of existing, check out my seven tips for building a new home.

1. Research the builder

Not 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.

If you look at multiple home builders you’ll find that some provide more features in their base prices than others. Upgrades vary from builder to builder and not all builders offer cash bonuses for upgrades or closing costs.

So it's a good idea to do your due diligence and research the ones you're considering. You can research builders in your area by
  • Seeing if there is any recent news, good or bad, about them on a local and national level
  • Visiting the home builder's newer neighborhoods in your area
  • Talking to people you know who've bought homes from them
  • Asking to visit the builder's design center before signing a contract
  • Finding out what's included in the base price and what's not
  • Getting information about their home warranty to see what is and isn't included

2. Set and stick to a budget

Yes, budgeting. A house is one of the largest purchases you will make in your life and has the potential of being your most 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.

If you’re building a new home should figure out how much of your budget will go towards the actual house and how much will be used for upgrades. The base price you’re given won’t be the final cost of your house because you’ll want and in some cases need to get upgrades.

Upgrades can be anything from extra lighting to a different style of cabinets or paint colors. If your builder provides a bonus for upgrades it makes the division of monies that much easier.

If your builder doesn’t provide an upgrade bonus then you’ll be paying for them with your own cash or mortgage. This is where getting information and pricing on the available upgrades prior to signing a contract can be helpful.

Though my budget changed a few times I ended up purchasing a house for less than my maximum purchase price. While that did mean there were several upgrades I had to pass on that would have taken me to the top end of my budget I don’t regret it.

Related read on my financial blog: How I Saved The Down Payment For My First House

3. See the schedule and get a completion date

My biggest regret with my home building process is that I didn't insist on seeing a schedule for the construction or insisting they provide a solid completion date. What I got from 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 on the same schedule and time frame, you're better able to plan for delays.

6 tips for buying new home construction | arelaxedgal.com

4. Continually check in

From 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 in a couple of ways:
  • Phone and email: Get the phone numbers and emails for the contractor and salesperson. 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 at 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 salesperson.

5. Plan for delays

Delays 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. If you’re renting this could mean extending your lease 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 were 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.

6. Get the house inspected

You might this is strange to get a new house inspected but sometimes the things contractors do may pass the minimum state requirements but may not be the best standards.

Getting your own independent inspections can give you some peace of mind that your house is being built properly. It can also bring to light some things that may not be right and need to be fixed. You can use the inspector’s report as a to-do list for the builder.

I only got my house inspected before the closing but you can also have the house inspected at different intervals of the process. Such as after the electrical and plumbing have been installed but before the drywall is put up.

7. Don't settle

The house you're buying is going to be your home. The place you plan to live for several years, perhaps the rest of your life. And if it's new construction it's brand new and in my opinion, this house should be perfect and look the way you want it to. So don't settle for any excuses or halfway done work. If you don't like the way they did something, have them fix it or re-do it.

When you do a final walk-through take your time, don’t let the contractor rush you. Turn on faucets, run the shower, fill up the tub, turn on lights open and close doors, run your hands along the surface of your countertops. While you’ll probably have a chance to get the builder to fix anything that’s wrong after you move in, it’s best to locate major issues prior to closing.

By finding major issues before closing the builder can fix them without you having to be at the home to let them in. Believe me, it makes life a lot easier.

Once you move in start making a list of everything you find that isn’t quite right and send in a warranty request for those items to be fixed.

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  1. My husband and I are planning on buying a newly constructed home. Planning for delays is a necessity that you should do so that you don't end up without a home for a short time. I would also recommend making sure that you get a home that was built by a licensed company. http://www.lacrosse-homes.com/floor-plans

    1. Planning for delays is really important. When I think back the builder I used didn't tell me that I should plan for delays. I learned that from some people I know who had built houses several years ago and they had several delays that pushed their move in date.

      Making sure the home is built by a licensed company is also important. Thanks for sharing Sarah!


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