New Construction: The Real Nitty Gritty
You want all the pretty and shiny new things? I get it…hard to say no to that new house smell. That immaculate paint job. That toilet seat that no one has ever sat upon. But before you roll up to the model house with stars in your eyes and a Pinterest page dedicated to backsplash trends…please read this!
1. On all that is HOLY…USE a Buyer’s Agent! It costs you nothing…yes, nothing. In most cases, the builder has already factored in each agent’s potential cost into their agreement with their own listing agent. If you don’t have a buyer’s agent, that listing agent is being paid twice the commission and only representing one side…and it’s NOT yours!
2. Study every available lot before you select. I mean…the nitty gritty: grading, retention pod access, lines, set back, amenity location, etc. Have the project manager/builder walk the lot with you and determine how much footprint the home will take up and what yard you’re left with post construction. That lot can look huge empty. Make sure you won't fall out of love with it once a house is built on it.
3. Estimated completion/closing dates are just that…estimated. I have yet to see a contract with a builder that absolutely 100% says we will close on X date. Why? Because the builder is having to deal with mother nature, vendor delays, city and county delays and whatever other mishap that could go wrong. No builder will pin themselves into a corner with an exact date. If possible, stay fluid on your own move in date. Your negotiating power with any outstanding items will rely, in part, on how desperately you need to move into that home ASAP.
4. Be prepared to hear the word “NO”…and often. Unless you are truly custom building your home…as in, the builder is directly hired by you to build the home of your dreams on the lot of your dreams…you will hear the word NO. If you are not “custom” building your home, you are buying a home with a “spec” builder. Spec builders are limited to their selections, floorplans, timelines and deadlines. They have to stay on-track and on-plan to close their properties on time. This means, no...they cannot install a custom island made of an old whiskey barrel or individual cabinet knobs you found on Etsy. Those are "post-close" projects.
5. Contract price is not the final sales price. With most builders you have a base price that encompasses the floorplan, lot premium, standard selections included and any seller paid items. They, however, do not take into account most design selections such as upgraded paint, lighting, electrical, cabinetry, security systems, plumbing, etc. Those “upgraded” items will be selected 1-3 weeks from your initial contract. Make sure you know what is included in the initial pricing so you can budget accordingly and not break the bank with all of the shiny things.
6. Get a home inspection!! If you employ me, you will hear this repeatedly. I cannot MAKE you get a home inspection but will strongly advise you to do so. Why? Because every builder has subcontractors that they cannot babysit 24/7. It is your inspector’s job to look out for your interests, so subcontractor mistakes are not your issues post-close.
I’ve seen it all folks: a 4 year old HVAC unit installed on a brand new home; shingles missing from entire sections of the roof; supporting beams not properly installed; electrical outlets that do not work; backyards that completely flood on the first sight of rain. PLEASE, GET A HOME INSPECTION.
7. Your lawn will not look perfect. Most of our builders install sod in the front and sides with seed in the back. Sod is preferable than seed but, even then…you will need to work each year to cultivate that enviable manicured lawn. Especially in Middle TN. There's a reason why "Rocky Top" is literally a state anthem. If lush lawn is on your must-have list…go ahead and start asking for landscaping referrals or googling terms such as “seeding,” “fertilizing,” “aerating,” and “irrigation.”
Thinking of buying all the shiny things? Well, I just happen to know an amazing realtor to call! :-)