Buying a newly built home is a unique experience. Last year my partner and I bought a new construction model home. We learned a lot throughout the process, and although I love my home, I’m sure there are a few things we wish we knew before we decided to do this.
LOCATION – If you decided to pick a big name builder, most of the time they have lots for you to choose from.
Pros: You don’t have to go searching all over on your own to find a lot location. You choose from their existing inventory.
Cons: You can ONLY pick from their existing inventory. If you’re looking within a new community, they might be selling fast and have limited lots for you to choose from. Some lots have a premium cost depending on its location. Also, the builder may or may not make you aware of their other communities where they might have a lot that might be more desirable to you. Each community sales center’s focus is on their community which might not always be in your best interest.
MODEL HOMES – We picked a model home because the floor layout was exactly what I wanted.
Pros: The builder has a selection of home styles and floor plans for you to choose from. They also have models that you can walk through so that you have a better feel of how the house will be. You also get to pick out your materials on the exterior and interior of the home. This part is kind of fun.
Cons: The builder sticks to the model floor plan and there’s no room for changes. They won’t do anything extra. For example, our builder wouldn’t offer, even at an additional cost, to fully insulate, drywall and paint the garage. Also, the builder has limited materials. For example, most home builders don’t offer Hardie board for exterior siding, which in my opinion a more durable and better siding option (https://www.jameshardie.com).
They also are limited with countertop and backsplash options and may not have the latest trends. For example, our builder did not have subway tile or quartz countertop options. We had to purchase them from a building store and had them installed after we closed on our house. The design center didn’t have up to date software to show us what our model home would look like with the exterior materials and colors that we chose. This made the process a little stressful because the colors of stone and siding that they offered looked a lot different in the design center’s lighting vs outdoors. We drove around and took pictures of other homes in the community so we had the look we desired as best as we could. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some homes in the area with exterior color disasters.
Landscaping usually does not come with the home, so be prepared to pay for grass, trees, bushes, etc. If you live in a builder community, you need to double check the by-laws in regards the types of trees and plants they allow and if you need an approval of the landscaping before it’s installed.
CUSTOM HOMES – These homes typically cost a little more, but I think this is a solid option.
Pros: A custom builder will build on any lot you pick. You have more control of the where you want your home located, whether on a 5-acre lot overlooking a pond or in-between two existing homes. You also work with the designer to create a layout that works specifically for you and your family. This is a great option especially if you need an in-law suite or have a physically challenged family member. You also get to choose all the materials that you want for your home which allows you to be able to save money on the less expensive model of items that you really don’t care about and use your funds to purchase more high-end models on the items that really mean a lot to you. You also can have the builder finish the basement, the garage or attic…at a cost of course.
Cons: You are very involved in the process of choosing all your materials. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming and what you thought the home would look like may or may not turn out like you thought it would. Also, custom builders don’t have “models” since each home is unique. I suggest that you buffer in at least $20,000 for unexpected costs for a custom home because things do happen.
In the end, remember that no home is perfect. I suggest that you do the best that you can with your budget. Don’t put yourself in debt unnecessarily and don’t worry about what other people have. Chose the option that will provide you with the elements of the home that are most important to you. Remember this will be a home you will live in for years, so you can always change the cosmetic items along the way. Just make sure you get the space and layout that you need.
Written By: Shena Omotola, Dream Home Specialist & Broker Owner of Skyward Realty – Skyward Realty services Chicago, Suburbs, and Northwest Indiana
P.S. Feel free to email me any questions. I’m always here to help. Shena@SkywardRealty.com