New Construction - Things to look for?

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mass88
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New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by mass88 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:49 pm

My wife and I are strongly considering buying a new construction home in a new sub division that is entering its final phase. We've been going over the spec sheet and are wondering if there is anything we should be looking out for? Any targeted question(s) we should be asking the sales team?

barnaclebob
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:55 pm

IMO, the real risk of new construction developments is how the neighborhood will age. Is this higher end housing or starter homes where many residents will not be inclined to maintain their houses once they start needing a new roof, landscape maintenance, exterior repairs etc?

How do you plan on living there?

Jack FFR1846
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:59 pm

You absolutely want YOUR inspector to look over the entire house. There can be huge problems, even with new construction.

If this is a development, be aware that drawings with the words "Conservation Land" is a lie. A development was built sort of surrounding my property. In the maps their sales literature had, MY property was shown as conservation land. We toured another development with areas listed as conservation land. I asked the sales person if the developer owned that land or if it was state land (it was very near a state park). They went and got a manager who came out and told us that it was actually owned by another developer who was going to build dense condo buildings.

Like I said......lies.

Anything the builder or real estate person tells you that is not in the contract will NOT be done. If it's not in the contract, make them change the contract.

Understand that lots of things builders do are to cut corners. I had my driveway paved and our paving contractor talked about those houses in the development surrounding my property. They spec'd 1/3 the amount of base coat and 1/3 the amount of finish for the driveways with minimal prep. They only wanted a nice looking paved driveway that was not going to last. He refused the work. I was told that all of the driveways would need to be replaced in a year with those specs. I watched as each and every house sold had their driveways ripped up a year later and proper work done, which wasn't done the first time.

Assume nothing. If the contract doesn't specifically say a grass lawn will be planted, you're getting dirt and rocks. If it says nothing about plants, you're getting no plants. If every house in the neighborhood has gutters and they're not in the contract, you're not getting gutters.
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fortfun
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by fortfun » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:04 pm

Basement foundation and any water problems. Hopefully, an engineer/county has signed off on the soil/ground water level. This could be a huge problem.

HOA. Ours is a disaster. Will probably avoid HOAs in the future.

wm631
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by wm631 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:27 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:59 pm
You absolutely want YOUR inspector to look over the entire house. There can be huge problems, even with new construction.

If this is a development, be aware that drawings with the words "Conservation Land" is a lie. A development was built sort of surrounding my property. In the maps their sales literature had, MY property was shown as conservation land. We toured another development with areas listed as conservation land. I asked the sales person if the developer owned that land or if it was state land (it was very near a state park). They went and got a manager who came out and told us that it was actually owned by another developer who was going to build dense condo buildings.

Like I said......lies.

Anything the builder or real estate person tells you that is not in the contract will NOT be done. If it's not in the contract, make them change the contract.

Understand that lots of things builders do are to cut corners. I had my driveway paved and our paving contractor talked about those houses in the development surrounding my property. They spec'd 1/3 the amount of base coat and 1/3 the amount of finish for the driveways with minimal prep. They only wanted a nice looking paved driveway that was not going to last. He refused the work. I was told that all of the driveways would need to be replaced in a year with those specs. I watched as each and every house sold had their driveways ripped up a year later and proper work done, which wasn't done the first time.

Assume nothing. If the contract doesn't specifically say a grass lawn will be planted, you're getting dirt and rocks. If it says nothing about plants, you're getting no plants. If every house in the neighborhood has gutters and they're not in the contract, you're not getting gutters.
+1. Excellent. And - with two new home experiences, including one with "open land" - all true.

Treat it like buying a car. Pay attention to all written details, assume nothing, regardless of "reputation" and certainly not verbal promises, either by the builder sales agent or even the home builder supervisor. Understand that builder's appliances-accessories-preparatory-paints-even upgrades are usually not top-of-the-line. The walk-through before settlement is really important. The more friendly eyes and ears you can have go with you, the better. And, for Pete's Sake, be sure and receive a signed copy of the walk-through corrections to be done in a time-specific manner.

wm631
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by wm631 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:32 pm

wm631 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:27 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:59 pm
You absolutely want YOUR inspector to look over the entire house. There can be huge problems, even with new construction.

If this is a development, be aware that drawings with the words "Conservation Land" is a lie. A development was built sort of surrounding my property. In the maps their sales literature had, MY property was shown as conservation land. We toured another development with areas listed as conservation land. I asked the sales person if the developer owned that land or if it was state land (it was very near a state park). They went and got a manager who came out and told us that it was actually owned by another developer who was going to build dense condo buildings.

Like I said......lies.

Anything the builder or real estate person tells you that is not in the contract will NOT be done. If it's not in the contract, make them change the contract.

Understand that lots of things builders do are to cut corners. I had my driveway paved and our paving contractor talked about those houses in the development surrounding my property. They spec'd 1/3 the amount of base coat and 1/3 the amount of finish for the driveways with minimal prep. They only wanted a nice looking paved driveway that was not going to last. He refused the work. I was told that all of the driveways would need to be replaced in a year with those specs. I watched as each and every house sold had their driveways ripped up a year later and proper work done, which wasn't done the first time.

Assume nothing. If the contract doesn't specifically say a grass lawn will be planted, you're getting dirt and rocks. If it says nothing about plants, you're getting no plants. If every house in the neighborhood has gutters and they're not in the contract, you're not getting gutters.
+1. Excellent. And - with two new home experiences, including one with "open land" - all true.

Treat it like buying a car. Pay attention to all written details, assume nothing, regardless of "reputation" and certainly not verbal promises, either by the builder sales agent or even the home builder supervisor. Understand that builder's appliances-accessories-preparatory-paints-even upgrades are usually not top-of-the-line. The walk-through before settlement is really important. The more friendly eyes and ears you can have go with you, the better. And, for Pete's Sake, be sure and receive a signed copy of the walk-through corrections to be done in a time-specific manner. Having your own inspector check things out is absolutely worth the grumbling amount of money, when you realize later what's wrong.

bloom2708
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:33 pm

When you get the final estimate, add 20% to get to the finish line. Maybe more.

The show model may not have "builder grade" for any items (all upgrades in the show house). Fixtures, door pulls, solid doors vs. hollow core, cabinets, finishes, yard, landscaping. All must be understood.

A new house is not "trouble free". In fact, you may spend quite a bit of that first year getting things corrected. It is an adventure.
Last edited by bloom2708 on Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:34 pm

fortfun wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:04 pm
Basement foundation and any water problems. Hopefully, an engineer/county has signed off on the soil/ground water level. This could be a huge problem.

HOA. Ours is a disaster. Will probably avoid HOAs in the future.
How about settlement of land? You dig a hole in the ground and build a house, lay floors, concrete outside the home, etc. A year or two later, you find your concrete driveway is buckled with one slab higher than the other (no tree nearby), you find your walls are cracking because the floor is shifting as the ground settles. What is the homebuilder's warranty as to those types of conditions appearing?
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

prncrakim
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by prncrakim » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:37 pm

In my experience the builder will overwhelm you with what is included so it appears comprehensive, it likely isn't. Frankly without construction knowledge it will be a challenge. Allowances could be light. For example, you may get a $2500 electrical allowance for items beyond what is required by code. Many would assume recessed lighting would be included. It may not be and they will be ~$100/each. Do you want built-ins? Trim? high-end fixtures? To avoid change orders and aggravation your initial contract should include as much of the final scope as possible. Every situation/builder is different, perhaps talking to others in the same subdivision about their experiences or what they would do differently would prove helpful. If you have anyone in your social circle with some construction knowledge that would also be helpful. Good luck!

brianH
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by brianH » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:17 pm

Ensure that the builder will allow *your* inspector to do inspections at various stages in the build process: after foundation pour, before the drywall is put up, and after finish work. Make sure he has a copy of the options/configuration changes you've made so that he can ensure things aren't missed.

Tracker968
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by Tracker968 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:31 pm

In my case I had assumed that what was in the model home was what they would use in my house. Turns out that almost everything was considered an "upgrade" and not included in the base price. In the end I had to spec out every single faucet, towel bar, etc. because what they were going to use had no relation to what was in the model home.

Topic Author
mass88
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by mass88 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:30 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:55 pm
IMO, the real risk of new construction developments is how the neighborhood will age. Is this higher end housing or starter homes where many residents will not be inclined to maintain their houses once they start needing a new roof, landscape maintenance, exterior repairs etc?

How do you plan on living there?
We would view this as a long term house - over 15 years. I don't want to use the term "forever home", but we would certainly view this as a house will would live in for a long time. The neighborhood is on the higher end - not top tier, but certainly not starter home territory. This is the final phase, so more than half the neighborhood have been in their homes for well over a year. Driving through you see well maintained lawns, nice swing sets in back yards, some people have put in pools, expanded patios, etc. The house 4 over from the lot we're looking are having an elaborate outdoor patio space put in. So it gives us the impression people in the neighborhood are going to skew towards wanting to maintain their homes and yards nicely.
Last edited by mass88 on Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
mass88
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Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:31 pm

Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by mass88 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:40 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:59 pm
You absolutely want YOUR inspector to look over the entire house. There can be huge problems, even with new construction.

If this is a development, be aware that drawings with the words "Conservation Land" is a lie. A development was built sort of surrounding my property. In the maps their sales literature had, MY property was shown as conservation land. We toured another development with areas listed as conservation land. I asked the sales person if the developer owned that land or if it was state land (it was very near a state park). They went and got a manager who came out and told us that it was actually owned by another developer who was going to build dense condo buildings.

Like I said......lies.

Anything the builder or real estate person tells you that is not in the contract will NOT be done. If it's not in the contract, make them change the contract.

Understand that lots of things builders do are to cut corners. I had my driveway paved and our paving contractor talked about those houses in the development surrounding my property. They spec'd 1/3 the amount of base coat and 1/3 the amount of finish for the driveways with minimal prep. They only wanted a nice looking paved driveway that was not going to last. He refused the work. I was told that all of the driveways would need to be replaced in a year with those specs. I watched as each and every house sold had their driveways ripped up a year later and proper work done, which wasn't done the first time.

Assume nothing. If the contract doesn't specifically say a grass lawn will be planted, you're getting dirt and rocks. If it says nothing about plants, you're getting no plants. If every house in the neighborhood has gutters and they're not in the contract, you're not getting gutters.
Nice response. Good to note the need to bring in an outside inspector to look over the house before we would take delivery. We've seen the land a couple of time as well as the map of the land - the home would me towards the middle to the sub-division and on all sides are homes that are part of the sub-division. About 200 feet from the back out the house is the secondary retaining pond and then beyond that is another section of the sub-division. So no worries about another developer buying adjacent land and putting up condos or apartments. We're going to see if we can get some references from existing homeowners about how they like their homes and see if we can find out about any issues they have had. We've been looking over the spec sheet and would firm anything up before signing a P&S. They do note they will provide 35 planting in the front of the house plus loam and hydro-seed. We'll be sure to have it noted they will do this either in April or late September.

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Watty
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Re: New Construction - Things to look for?

Post by Watty » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:03 pm

mass88 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:49 pm
Any targeted question(s) we should be asking the sales team?
1) Have your home inspector inspect the house at several phases of the building.

2) If your house backs up to undeveloped land it will likely be developed some day. My parents house was in the middle of a subdivision but some people paid extra to get lots that backed up to a golf course. About 30 years later the golf course was sold to the city and became a municipal golf course but where the driving range was they put in a municipal pool. This meant that some people that had premium lots now had the municipal pool right behind their house. Younger people are not playing golf as much now so many golf courses are going out of business so their land is being sold off. Land can be rezoned so you cannot depend on zoning to protect you.

3) If there are plans to eventually do something like build a subdivision swimming pool then that might not actually happen. I know someone that bought a house where the builder was going to build a pool and clubhouse when the subdivision was something like 75% complete. Part of their purchase price went towards that. The builder went out of business and the pool was never built and they never got that money back.

4) Pay a lot of attention to possible flood patterns. As land is cleared and paved water runs off quicker and flooding often gets worse. Flood maps can be decades behind land development so you need to be cautious about depending on the flood maps.

5) One nice thing about buying in a new subdivision is that the first owners tend to bond and make friends more than when you move into an existing neighborhood. Sociologist have written about this and it is because first owners tend to be in similar phases of life and looking for new friends since onone is the new family. Over the years my parents bought two new houses and in each of those subdivisions they made friends that they kept for the rest of their lives.

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