Monday, February 11, 2013

Timeline, Finishes,New Builds, Specs...Oh MY!

So here is my take on the steps to choosing the right NEW HOME BUILD for YOU and your family:
Remember folks, that is this Urban-Mama's experience, not intended to be anyone else's! :)

If you build, depending upon your builder, you and the changes you make, the process could take anywhere from 4-6 months. 
  • Browsed communities in our area of interest
  • Settled on one community
  • Met the on-site sales representative, toured the models, the neighborhood and drove the surrounding area
  • Chose three floor plans:  1. our top choice 2. our runner-up 3. just in case
  • Wrote an offer with the on-site sales representative...(your REALTOR can negotiate on your behalf) ;)
  • Allowed our REALTOR to negotiate our offer
  • Once terms were agreed upon....we were under contract
  • WAITED!! for our plans to come back from the architect
  • 1st Design Center appointment
  • 2nd Design Center appointment
  • form boards appeared on our lot :)
  • Builder Meeting- this is the meeting where you 1. meet your builder 2. go over the contract and change order line by line 3. discuss with your builder the changes you wish to make
  • WAITED for permit
  • lot is trenched
  • electrical meter is installed
  • construction begins
  • home is finished!!!
  • walk through
  • closing
  • MOVE-IN!!
If you choose a spec home, the process is much quicker.  A spec home is a house built on a speculative basis without an order on the books.  This means that the builder will construct a certain number of houses in anticipation of buyers.  Generally, the builder or on-site representative will choose the floor plan and the finishes.  A buyer might have some limited ability to choose the finishes in the house depending upon the stage of construction at the time of contract. 

Below are my tips: 
  • Decide upon your budget range. 
  • Find a community that interests you and fits your needs.
  • We considered location, school district, community amenities, work commute, and lifestyle. It might be helpful to make the drive to and from your work location at a few different times of day to make sure you will not be committing to a commute that ultimately is too much for you. Pro tip- visit the community several times and a differing times of day to see what it is like. Are people out and about, are they interacting with each other, are the streets quiet or noisy? Do you like what you see?
  • Visit the models, learn about the community amenities
  • Get a preapproval from your lender.  This makes things easier when you begin the process of making an offer. Also, decide upon your magic number you do not wish to exceed. If you choose to make substantial upgrades, then your contract price may not be the final price until after you have attended your design center appointments or builder meeting. Your REALTOR can negotiate a design center allowance into your contract, but invariably, you will find that custom design center option that will add to your price. 
  • Choose a few floor plans, our wise REALTORS suggested we choose our "dream floor plan," "a runner-up" and a "suitable alternate." This becomes quite important during a contract negotiation.
  • Decide if you wish to build a new home, or if you wish to make an offer on a spec home. Just what is a spec home? Well, it is a house that the builder constructs in anticipation of a buyer. Typically, the builder chooses the floor plan, the lot and the finishes on a spec home.   Depending upon the stage of the build, you might have limited upgrade or design options or none. If you wish to load up on upgrades or customize lots of options, then building is a better option.
  • Make friends with your on-site sales representative and talk turkey. Your REALTOR can negotiate on your behalf. All builders operate differently, for example, some builders will negotiate the price of the new home, some will throw in extras, like blinds, while keeping firm on the price. Others will do both, and yet others will allot you more money at the design center. Some builders will charge you for each upgrade, option, or change you make to the plans. Other builders will offer choices, but only charge on custom changes. Again, your REALTOR is an invaluable asset as they will more than likely have an idea about the builders and how they run their business.
  • Make a list of all of your questions. Trust me, the list will grow and grow! Most on-site sales representatives understand this. If they are any good at their job, they will welcome your questions because they know that an informed buyer will ultimately be a happy buyer.
  • If you are building a floor plan, or if you have some options to select on your spec home, you will visit the builder's design center. The design center can be nirvana or your worst nightmare, it kind of depends on A. your attitude and B. your personality, (there are some of us out there that LOVE this stuff, you know researching, mulling over all of the choices, visualizing, etc. There are some of us out there that DO NOT. Fortunately, I love it and my husband does not. Most of the time, we actually make a great team. However, go to your appointment prepared. I recommend that you have an idea of what you like and then some alternate choices.  Photos also help.  I used Pinterest.  I think it gave our awesome designer a good idea of our design aesthetic.   
I hope this helps!  Now that we are the in middle of this process, the steps seem logical, but before we began, I did not know all that went into building.