So, you are looking for a new home and you’ve done your planning. You have mortgage pre-approval. You’ve decided what key features, needs and wants are important to you and your family. You have identified the region and communities that provide the convenience and amenity features to suit your lifestyle both today and in the future.
Now, it’s time to hit those showhomes and find the perfect design and builder. There’s a fine line in choosing the right home and the right builder. Obviously the right plan has the proper room count, space and key features to fit your budget and lifestyle needs.
And, the right builder will have the home layout, price, building process, selection offering, construction and engineering expertise, warranty and service coverage, customer support, communications programs, professionalism and financial stability to complete the job – the way you expect it. As you can see, that’s a mouthful and it requires you to be actively engaged in the purchase process and leave nothing to chance.
You should shop for your builder as carefully and with the same diligence as you do the home plan. Treat it like you’re interviewing them.
When visiting showhomes you want to engage in conversation with the Sales representative. It is important you feel comfortable with this person as they will be your “advocate” and first line of builder communication throughout the process. Their level of knowledge and expertise, in the community, builder, planning process, support programs, permits, construction and related industry knowledge will provide you with the degree of confidence necessary to maintain good working relations while your home is being constructed and finished.
Ask lots of questions about the community, future plans for it, the builder, and the builder’s process. Look for knowledge gaps and make sure responses make sense to you. If they don’t, that’s a red flag that something may be problematic after you sign the purchase agreement. Find out how long the builder has been in business? How many homes they build per year? Do they offer a home warranty program and who is it with? A good builder will have no hesitation passing along past customer referrals. Call a few and check to see how satisfied they were with their experience and see if they recommend the builder.
Inquire about after sales programs, the time frames for follow up inspections and attention to deficiencies should any arise after move in. And, get everything in writing. If it is not written down, it is irrelevant after the fact. This is your home, and to the degree possible control a successful outcome by creating clear expectations on both sides before signing anything. Ask questions, questions, questions. Then document, document, document. Only then do you sign on.
You may want to visit all your builders showhomes to examine the quality and attention to detail standard across all products.
Also, inquire about design flexibility – how willing is the builder to deviate from floorplan specifications, their standard features versus upgrades, as well as what brand name products they use. Some brands offer excellent customer support and warranty programs while others may not. This can be important three to five years after you have purchased and the builder’s service program has ended.
Viewing showhomes gives you a close look at the builder’s construction, finishing details, use of space and function. However, show homes are often outfitted with “upgraded” features that cost much more than standard items. This is a common point of misunderstanding for new home buyers. Ask to see a home with standard finishes if that is what you’re buying. You may be less impressed. Most builders have completed spec homes, built to much simpler standards then showhomes, that are ready to view.
It takes just a little time and a few questions for you to move forward with ease and comfort, confident that you have chosen the right builder to build the right home for you.