By: Liz Moore
If you're considering building a new home, you should consider the choice of builder as carefully as the choice of neighborhood and floor plan. Here are a couple of tips to help you choose a builder.
The first consideration is what the community you have selected will allow. Is there just one builder, or will you have a choice? Either way, you need to do your homework.
1. Ask for references. Rather than the builder selecting a few past clients for you to talk to, ask specifically for his or her most recent four or five sales. The more people you talk to, the more accurate an impression you’re going to get. Ask a lot of questions: Are you happy with the quality of construction? How were problems addressed? How responsive was the builder to changes during the process? Would you build with this builder again?
2. Visit as many of the builder’s homes as possible. There is simply no substitute for seeing work first hand. Pay attention to the quality of construction. Find out what is considered standard, and what are upgrades.
3. Ask for a copy of the builder’s contract. Review it with your Realtor well in advance of time to sign. It’s not unusual for builder contracts to be builder-friendly, so it’s important you understand the terms clearly, as well as what is negotiable and what’s not:
a. How long does the builder have to complete the home? What are the penalties, if any, for delays? This is probably the biggest trouble zone in new construction contracts.
b. How are upgrades handled? Will you need to pay separately, or can they be financed into the package price?
c. Are allowances (cabinets, fixtures, landscaping, etc.) retail or builder’s cost? Most builders get significant discounts for volume, so check and see if they are being passed through to you as the homebuyer. Do you have choices for providers, or will you be limited to specific subcontractors? It’s always a good idea to investigate what your allowances will buy before you are committed.
Realtors who specialize in working with builders and new construction can be invaluable to you; because they negotiate new home contracts every day, they know what to look for and what questions to ask. We would be happy to give you an overview of what to expect and how to get started!