Most homebuyers will not be surprised to learn that a new construction home almost always costs more than a resale one, for, first of all, new construction homes are new and resale homes are used. What else exactly do buyers get when they purchase a newly built home and is it worth it? New-home buyers get more than just a new home because after all with a new home comes:
- The ability to choose the finishes, fixtures, and decor that buyers will want
- A builder’s warranty for the home’s finishes, systems, and structure
- Cutting-edge design and architecture
- The latest home automation
- Energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and cooling
- Energy-efficient home appliances.
The home automation component is especially desirable because it can be difficult and costly to add this type of system to an existing home.
Buying New Construction Home
How is buying a new construction home different than buying an existing one? For starters, a newly built home likely includes up-to-date design, the latest construction standards, and new appliances. And since many new construction homes are sold before they are finished, you may have the opportunity to make some design choices, things like upgrading tile or selecting the carpeting color. You won’t be moving into a home with a honey-do list of projects and repairs.
The following tips will help you shop for and buy new construction:
Finding a Newly Built or Under-Construction Home
Anything about finding a newly built or under-construction home you will find in this section. Find a good real estate agent as they will know about new developments in your area. Of course, new construction isn’t always in a new development for some builders pick up lots and build one or two homes at a time. So keep an eye out for new places under construction in your target neighborhood and ask your agent to contact the contractor or developer.
Builders of larger developments often have a sales force that works directly for them, bypassing traditional real estate agents. In either case, you will want your own agent to represent your interests and the same goes for lenders. Don’t be surprised if builders require you to be pre-approved by their preferred lender for they just want assurance that you are a serious buyer.
Read Reviews of Builders
You want to know who you’re putting your money behind, so go online to read reviews of builders and find out:
- Do they have a reputation for quality work they stand behind
- Are they better known for putting up shoddy homes that look nice but quickly fall apart
- How financially sound are they and their financing.
You don’t want to put down a deposit only to watch the builder declare bankruptcy before finishing your home. Ask what kind of warranty is offered on the home and know what you are buying. When buying new construction, you may be purchasing your home before it’s finished. So how do you know what it looks like? You’ll tour a model home or homes in the same development. Models give you a feel for the floor plan and display finish options. Also consider that sometimes model homes have a mix of standard and “custom” or “premium” finishes - Ask for a list of standard and upgraded features, including their costs.
Deposits and Contracts
Your new home may still be under construction when you sign the contract. You will need to provide a deposit so make sure your agent explains the contract. You will need to know if and when you can get your deposit refunded; your agent can make sure a review period is written into the contract. The contract should include a specific completion date but know that many builders have provisions that allow for some wiggle room in case materials or permits cause delays. Also, you should be aware of who pays for delays - your contract should spell out what recourse you have if your home isn’t ready on time. Get everything in writing for even an honest builder sometimes can forget things.
Never Skip the Inspection
Even if you now have a new construction home, you should never skip the inspection. For a few hundred bucks, you get an unbiased and trained set of eyes making sure things are in order and up to code. A good inspection gives you the opportunity to work with the builder to correct problems before you close. Make sure your agent explains your rights. Most times, the builder will fix any code issues, but you are not able to simply walk away based on inspection results.
New Home Construction Process
Now it is time to speak about building and new home construction process overall. Also, check out AOB’s small article to find out details and see the steps to know how to build a new home. While we will present more information on the pointed steps below.
Construction Site and Pour Foundation
The first step before starting any construction you need to prepare the construction site and pout foundation.
- Construction Crew Levels Site
- Puts Up Wooden Forms for the Temporary Foundation
- Footings Are Installed
Often, site preparation and foundation work are performed by the same crew, but this may not be the case with a wooded lot. Using a backhoe and a bulldozer, the crew clears the site of rocks, debris, and trees for the house and, if applicable, the septic system. The crew levels the site puts up wooden forms to serve as a template for the foundation and digs the holes and trenches. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) are installed. If your home is going to have a well, it will be dug at this point.
If the home has a full basement, the hole is dug, the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. If it’s slab-on-grade, the footings are dug, formed, and poured, and the area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs and the slab is poured. Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, it will need time to cure. During this period, there should not be any activity on the construction site.
Now complete the rough framing. The floor systems, walls, and roof systems are completed. Plywood or oriented strand board sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof and windows and exterior doors are installed. The sheathing is then covered with a protective barrier known as a house wrap; it prevents liquid water from infiltrating the structure while allowing water vapor to escape. This reduces the likelihood of mold and wood rot.
Rough Plumbing and Electrical HVAC
For completing the rough plumbing and electrical HVAC the following things are installed:
- Pipes and Wires
- Sewer Lines and Vents
- Water Supply Lines
- Bathtubs, Shower Units
- Ductwork for HVAC System
- HVAC Vent Pipes
Once the shell is finished, siding and roofing can be installed. At the same time, the electrical and plumbing contractors start running pipes and wires through the interior walls, ceilings, and floors. Sewer lines and vents, as well as water supply lines for each fixture, are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower/tub units are put in place at this point because there’s more room to maneuver large, heavy objects.
Ductwork is installed for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and possibly the furnace. HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof and insulation is installed in the floors, walls, and ceilings.
After the roofing goes on, the house is considered “dried in.” An electrician then installs receptacles for outlets, lights, and switches and runs wires from the breaker panel to each receptacle. Wiring for telephones, cable TV, and music systems is included in this work.
Installing insulation plays a key role in creating a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate while significantly improving a home’s energy efficiency. One of the most important qualities of insulation is its thermal performance or R-value, which indicates how well the material resists heat transfer. Most homes are insulated in all exterior walls, as well as the attic and any floors that are located above unfinished basements or crawl spaces.
The most common types of insulation used in new homes are fiberglass, cellulose, and foam. Depending on the region and climate, your builder may also use mineral wool, concrete blocks, foam board or rigid foam, insulating concrete forms, sprayed foam, and structural insulated panels.
Blanket insulation, which comes in batts or rolls, is typical in new-home construction. So is loose-fill and blown-in insulation, which is made of fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral-wool particles. Another insulation option, liquid foam, can be sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected or poured. While it costs more than traditional batt insulation, liquid foam has twice the R-value per inch and can fill the smallest cavities, creating an effective air barrier, so then you need to complete the following final steps:
- Complete drywall and interior fixtures
- tart exterior finishes
- Finish interior trim
- Install exterior walkways and driveway
- Install hard-surface flooring and countertops
- Finish mechanical trims
- Install bathroom fixtures
Your builder will walk you through your new home to acquaint you with its features and the operation of various systems and components and explain your responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep, as well as warranty coverage and procedures. This is often referred to as a pre-settlement walkthrough. It’s also an opportunity to spot items that need to be corrected or adjusted, so be attentive and observant. Examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors, and walls for possible damage. Sometimes disputes arise because the homeowner discovers a gouge in a countertop after move-in and there’s no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s crew or the homeowner’s movers.