Your Ultimate Checklist for Buying a New Construction Home

Your ultimate checklist for buying a new construction home

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Buying a new construction home allows you to decide exactly what you want, from the builder and lot right down to the light fixtures and bathroom hardware. But while it’s exciting to have all these options, it can also be quite overwhelming.

This article provides the ultimate checklist for buying a new construction home to guide you through the process.

people planning construction budget and checklist for buying a new construction home

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Understanding Your Budget

A new construction home is a significant financial investment. As such, the first thing you’ll need to do is determine your budget.

The steps below will help you achieve a clear understanding of how much money is required on the project to ensure that the construction of your dream home is a success.

Step 1. Identify Your Priorities

Make a list of the must-haves in your dream home and those that you can compromise. Setting your priorities will help you allocate your funds accordingly.

Step 2. Research the Cost of Materials

The cost of building materials will vary depending on certain factors like location, availability, and quality. Do some research to find out the cost of materials in your area to get an idea of how much you will need to budget.

Step 3. Factor in Hidden Costs

Aside from the cost of materials and labor, there are other costs like permits, inspections, and site preparation. Be sure to factor in these additional expenses when planning your budget.

Step 4. Consider Financing Options

Consider your financing options, such as a mortgage or construction loan, and also factor in the interest rates.

Step 5. Plan for Unexpected Expenses

Anticipate unexpected expenses that can arise during the construction process and have a contingency fund to cover them.

Step 6. Work With a Professional

Working with a professional, such as a contractor or architect, can help you determine a realistic budget for building your new construction home and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Financing Options and Pre-Approval

Once you have set your budget, the next thing you need to do is get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you an idea of what you can realistically afford.

A common question is, “Can I buy a new construction home with FHA loan?” The answer is yes.

There are two programs available:

  1. You can buy a home from a builder with a traditional FHA loan, or
  2. You can use an FHA construction-to-permanent loan to finance the land, construction costs, and the finished home.
a new house construction checklist for buying a new construction home

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Location, Location, Location

When choosing the location of your new home, it is important to consider things like proximity to family, friends, work, schools, transport, and amenities to support your lifestyle.

It is also essential to take some time to research online and even visit the city planning office to learn the history and details of the area. Some people find out crucial things like the lot used to be a former landfill or a superfund site filled with hazardous materials.

By checking the background of the place you’re considering building your house on, you can avoid making the wrong decision of choosing a location that might only give you problems in the future.

an architect making floor plans, checklist for buying a new construction home

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Design and Floorplan

When planning the must-have features in a new home, also consider your needs in the near future. For instance, if you have young children, you will need to include in your plans the space that they will need once they grow a bit older.

Other things to consider are your lifestyle, how to best allow natural light to fill your space, the amount of storage space you will need, and allocating space for your hobbies or work.

a man working on a laptop, checklist for buying a new construction home

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Builder Reputation and Experience

Research on the builder you’re considering for the project. Go to the builder’s website to learn about their past projects and awards. Visit the builder’s model homes or completed projects to assess the quality of their work.

Check their experience and reputation by reading online reviews and ratings from previous home buyers. Make sure there are no Better Business Bureau complaints on file against the builder’s company.

It will also be helpful to contact local real estate agents or industry professionals and ask for their opinions on the builder.

Home Inspections and Quality Assurance

Purchasing a new home does not mean that everything is in excellent shape. Even a brand-new house can develop issues that might compromise its livability, functionality, and structural stability.

This is why you must schedule a home inspection after the builder has finished the project and before your last walkthrough with them. This will reveal any concealed flaws, risks to your safety, or code violations that might compromise the quality and value of your new house.

A new construction home inspection costs around $342 on average — a relatively small price to pay for your peace of mind about your home’s condition.

Understanding Warranties and Guarantees

Your builder’s warranty on your new construction home provides you with a significant advantage. This covers any defects in craftsmanship and stipulates that any major defect in the structural integrity of the home must be repaired.

Warranties can vary widely in terms of coverage and duration, so make sure you understand what structural elements are covered, such as the foundation, roofing, and windows, and for how long.

a man installing solar panel, checklist for buying a new construction home

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Environmental Considerations

Going for greener options for your new construction home will not only help save the environment but also help reduce energy consumption and lower your utility bills.

Some common energy-efficient features in new construction homes are:

  • LED lighting fixtures
  • High-efficiency HVAC systems
  • Proper insulation in walls, floors, and attic
  • Solar panels or pre-wiring for solar installation
  • Energy Star-rated appliances, water heaters and plumbing fixtures
a person signing contracts, checklist for buying a new construction home

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Legal and Contractual Obligations

A new home sales contract is a legal, binding document designed to protect you as well as the builder. It states the terms of your home’s construction, including the floor plans, projected closing date, payment deadlines, and each party’s obligations.

Make sure that everything you have agreed to verbally with the builder is written into the contract. Once both parties have signed this document, it will serve as your guide throughout the home-building process.

Homeowner's Association (HOA) Rules and Fees

When buying a new construction home, it’s important to inquire about Home Owners Association (HOA) fees or restrictions, if applicable.

Here are the things you will need to know about HOA:

  • The purpose of the HOA fees
  • The amenities and services they cover
  • The HOA rules and regulations
  • The amount and payment schedule of HOA fees
  • Any restrictions on property use, architectural guidelines, or pet policies

Moving and Transitioning

On the day of the move, look around the property and check if everything works. Run your hands over all the surfaces to check for dents, scratches, etc. If you find anything, discuss the issues with the builder before signing any paperwork.

During the first few weeks in your new build, keep in mind that the property is still drying out and this may lead to small cracks because of shrinkage. Exposure to excess heat may cause these cracks to worsen, so resist turning up the thermostat too high.

Conclusion

Buying a new construction home is a major investment, and this guide can help you avoid costly mistakes and have an overall positive experience with your real estate transaction.

If you are considering purchasing a home, I’d be happy to help! Give me a call today at 251.543.6094 or email me at bruce@inlandbayrealty.com to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

If the delay in the construction timeline is excusable, your contractor may legally have the right to an extension and additional compensation. However, if the delay is inexcusable, you as the buyer may consider a renegotiation of the terms of your contract or seek damages.

A punch list is a document that enumerates the final work items remaining before a construction project is considered complete. It is usually the last step in the project in order to double-check that everything has been completed according to the owner’s specifications.

Modifications to a floor plan after construction has begun are allowed but can be costly and time-consuming. It’s best to finalize your floor plan before construction starts.