Home Buyer’s Guide

New construction homes come with a lot of perks, like energy efficiency and no worn-down parts in need of repair. You can customize and build your home exactly the way you want it. However, there are few things to think through when it comes to new construction, like budget and timing.

Here are a few of the big things to consider when deciding if new construction homes are right for you.

Understand what a new construction house is.

A new construction home is a home where the buyer is the first person to live there after it’s built, but it can happen in a number of ways. A buyer may purchase their own plot of land and contract a builder to build a custom home and an architect to design the whole house. On the other end of the spectrum, a buyer may purchase a completely built home and the property it’s on from a developer.

Know your customization options and costs.

  • Most new construction homes offer one of the following customization options:
    • Built on spec: The home is completed and can be purchased as is.
    • Semi-custom: The structure is mostly built, but you can customize it in some ways.
    • Full custom: You have a say in everything.
  • Once you determine which level you’re comfortable with, make sure you know what comes standard with the home (see our list of Standard Features) and what costs extra. Then get it in writing. You’ll be bummed if the quartz counters and hardwoods you loved in the model come with a hefty additional price tag.

Be aware of new construction timing.

  • Besides cost, another factor to consider when choosing a customization option (and whether to go with new construction at all) is timing. Overall, the timeline for building a home can be unpredictable, because of weather, vendor delays, and waiting for logistics like permit approvals to happen.
  • Typically, the further along the home is in the building process when you purchase it (if it’s semi-custom or on-spec, for example), the faster the process should go. On average, building a home can take from three to seven months, depending on size, but it’s not uncommon for it to take nearly a year if any delays happen along the way.
  • If you’re considering new construction, choose the build option that fits with your current living situation. If it’s flexible enough to allow for a lengthyand potentially unpredictablelead time, building from the ground up might be for you. If not, a semi-custom or built-on-spec home could be a better choice.

Make a smart budget.

  • When you pick a semi or full-custom new construction home, it’s easy to accidentally spend too much, one customization option at a time. Be realistic about how much house you can afford, and take into consideration costs that are easy to overlook:
    • Landscaping: You’ll likely need to build your lawn after you build your house.
    • Homeowner’s Associations: If you build in some neighborhoods, you could owe monthly homeowner’s association feesand you could be bound by their policies to meet certain property standards, which can make costs go up.
    • Furnishings: Builders will install your bathroom vanity, but probably not your toilet paper holder or towel rack, so those won’t be covered in your contract. Make sure you budget for those smaller furnishing in every room.

Understand your warranty.

  •  Generally, warranties on new construction homes offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials. Some coverage is offered for just the first year (for siding, doors, and trim, for example); some for two years (often for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical), and some for a decade for major structural defects.
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