Below is a blog from a good friend and colleague of mine from Montgomery County PA, Adam Wartell. Adam has some great pointers for when you are building a home. Check it out and please share any additional tips you might have!
Buying a home is certainly one of the biggest life events you will encounter. You can lump your primary choices into two basic categories: “existing” and “new construction.” Both have their own sets of pros and cons and both require a different set of things you need to know when you begin your search. This blog focuses on the “new construction” category.
It’s All About the Research!
Once you know the area in which you want to live, research all the possible new construction sites in that area. Look for sites that are almost complete, partially complete and ones that haven’t even broken ground yet.
There can be advantages to buying before groundbreaking, usually in the form of cost savings. The builder will likely offer some sort of “pre-construction pricing” on the home and/or “incentives” such a free finished basement or a certain amount of free upgrades. These are designed to get people interested in the new site quickly. The same can be found for a site that is nearing completion. The builder wants to complete the site as quickly as possible, so you can take advantage of those incentives.
However, before you become hooked by the pricing and incentives to buy, make sure you do your research on the builder. Visit their models. Visit other neighborhoods they’ve completed. Research them on the internet and through the Better Business Bureau. The most useful research you can do is to talk to the people living in their houses. If the site you are considering already has homes that are occupied, try to speak with a current homeowner about their experience with the builder. You can also do this at another of the same builder’s sites. If they are like me (and most new homeowners that I know) they will love to talk to you. They’ll be very proud of their purchase and know that you need help with your decision. Ask them about how they felt the builder handled the sale and especially any problems that came up after the sale. This knowledge will give you invaluable insight on the buying experience and the quality of the home itself. Also working with a REALTOR® is very helpful as they have relationships with builders.
Here are some things that I learned you might find helpful:
- Before the drywall goes up:
- Upgrade/add insulation to walls & attic.
- Add sound insulation between bedrooms and especially around bathrooms.
- Wire all rooms for ethernet (hardwired internet)/tv/phone.
- Run wires for speakers where you think you’ll be using them.
- Take pictures of all the walls, so you’ll have pictures of where everything (electrical, HVAC, plumbing) is running.
- Some of these things above you can do yourself after the construction crew has left one day and some of these things you will have to pay the builder to do for you. In either case, it is easier and cheaper to do it now, than after the drywall is up!
- If you have an option to make rooms bigger (extended family room, kitchen, etc.) do it now! It is much cheaper and easier to do as the house is built, then after.
- If possible, have drywall screwed in (not nailed), to avoid “nail-pops”.
- Don’t finish your basement until the house has settled for a year or two to make sure no big foundation cracks appear that cause leaks and require repair. However, you can ignore this rule if the builder is going to give you a free basement.
- Get a home inspection! Yes, even for a newly built home. You want to make sure everything is up to code. I’ve seen new homes built that when the homeowner took ownership, found there was no insulation in the attic! You’d never see that yourself during your “final walk through.”
There are also plenty of books available for first time home buyers. Pick up one or two and use them to help guide you through this process.
If you do your research, you’ll have a home that is just the way you want it. And if you need a real estate agent, I highly recommend Angela Morsa.
Written by: Adam Wartell, new-construction home owner in Montgomery County PA and Founder of Corvettes for a Cure, a Corvette show to benefit the Philadelphia Chapter of the Alzheimers Association.
Thanks for sharing these helpful tips, Adam!
I am always here to help you through your buying process, new construction or otherwise. Feel free to call me at 215-327-9097.