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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default Having a new house built- What do I need to know

    DH and I have decided to put a recent inheritance toward a house after several years of apartment dwelling. Due to some very specific needs, we have decided to have a new home built. We have chosen a floorplan floorplan and the lot is reserved. Excavation is scheduled to start in about a month.

    I've purchased preexisting homes before, but building is a new thing for us. We have a Realtor representing us through the process, but it's still kind of scary.

    Does anyone who has ever been through the process have any suggestions or tips? Any details that may not have been considered?
    "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    9,654

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    Be prepared for it to take three months longer and cost about 25 percent more than the contractor said it would.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
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    40,158

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    Advice is to start with a real estate certified attorney on your corner.
    That attorney will tell you what all you need and go over any contracts with a fine tooth comb before you even sign anything.

    The best such attorneys are the ones that prepare the contracts for the builders, find who those are from your local builder's association.

    Make it ADA compatible, where they frame for handicapped aids, so you can if needed add rails and such and all doors are 36' wide, middle of at least one bathroom is 5', handicapped access shower and so on, read on it.

    There is so much to say, it would take books to explain what the process is and where all you need to keep your eye on.

    Don't hurry them, the builder will schedule each team of subcontractors as he can, but at times one, say the trim carpenters, may be behind and that makes all others also behind, like the painters, etc.

    You could hire a home inspector to come every so often and be sure all is up to spec, the size of the framing lumber over doors, the blocking from level to level and all little details that later you would not see.

    Even if you are already committed, with such a large expense, I would still spend a bit on a good attorney up front, so you can have some weight to the inevitable disputes that may happen.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004
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    3,220

    Default

    Be aware that drywall is the half-way point! You see all the big work first but the finish work takes the longest.

    I think the hardest thing is to decide on the finishes, the materials and fixtures. Design has taken off and there really are too many choices. It's like the difference between a designer picking out and showing you 5 wallpapers to choose from or your sitting down with 500 books of wallpaper choices. Start looking and deciding now before they end up calling you the Change Your Minds Buyers. and changes can cost big time. I'm sure that a builder has predetermined choices for you that are set in different price ranges.

    Hold some escrow money at the end until the builder's punch list is done - that is a real motivator to get it done quicker or they can disappear too busy with the next project.
    The truth is what you can get other people to believe.

    -- Tommy Smothers



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 1999
    Location
    Shangri-LA
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    1,630

    Default

    Decide on things, placement, size BEFORE the building starts. Don't make changes after building/construction is underway, that runs costs up, up, up. If there are a lot of open houses, go look, see things you like and don't and try to find house plans that offer those. Always expect it to cost about 20% more than planned, doesn't mean it will but be prepared if it does.
    "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."
    ~Gypsy saying


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 5, 2005
    Location
    Stanwood WA
    Posts
    228

    Default

    Sounds like you are buying a set package from a builder in a builder community. I would liken it to being more like ordering a car from a dealer and picking the exterior color, interior finish and standard package that is probably already accommodated in the pricing you are presented with. When you go outside the standard range of finishes or amenities that the builder has priced in is when you will get into significant cost overruns just like a car will go up if you opt for leather interior, heated seats, fancy electronics that aren't part of the standard base price.

    True custom houses are where big cost overruns are a more standard problem but do be sure that the choices you are presented with for finishes and trim, appliances, lighting, etc are acceptable as when you start picking things that are outside of the builder standards you will escalate the price. Change orders are expensive.

    Also very carefully scrutinize the construction documents that define the scope of work an materials as that is your contract for what you are really getting. Don't assume something is included unless it is specifically delineated in either the drawings or specifications.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2010
    Location
    california
    Posts
    3,920

    Default

    Watch the movie "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse" with non other than Cary Grant. Have fun.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    Location
    between the barn and the pond
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    14,217

    Default

    Make as many little decisions as you can, now. Doors. Knobs. Base boards. Colors. Grout colors. Accent colors. Etc etc. They pile up later. Make an idea book , not just pinterest but a real book and study it often.


    When the walls are painted , etc, you must make sure to stick in that book the exact paint colors, the specifics....

    We built our house 10 years ago and I would change very little. It was very stressful but we made it



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    4,124

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Curb Appeal View Post
    .

    I've purchased preexisting homes before, but building is a new thing for us. We have a Realtor representing us through the process, but it's still kind of scary.

    ?
    are you and this realtor acting as the general contactor?

    Do you have a bank officer handling construction payments?


    1 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    40,158

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by clanter View Post
    are you and this realtor acting as the general contactor?

    Do you have a bank officer handling construction payments?
    Yes, that sounded odd, that a real estate agent is handling things?
    Real estate agents are generally not licensed building contractors, unless they are the ones listed as developers also, some may do that.
    I would double check that, be sure all is on the up and up there.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
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    Default

    I'd guess Tuffytown is right and you're buying a house in a subdivision, it just hasn't been built yet.

    Well, when my coworker did that she'd drive by about once a week and check it out, but as building progressed she got enamored of upgrades -hardwood floors, granite countertops, stuff like that.

    She should have spent for the 30 year shingles and hung around while the plumber was sweating her upstairs shower pipes because within a year she had a leak from the upstairs bath every time they ran the shower and the builder would.not.return.her.calls. She spent about $5k extra in fixtures but then she had to quit using the master bath.

    Now, something similar happened to my cousin, they'd neglected to complete the connection to the sewer, but she hadn't actually closed on the house yet so you bet the builder got out there and fixed that up.

    So I'd suggest that you look through whatever home warranty is offered to see what will happen if some system fails prematurely - like for an example an expensive HAVAC system that drops dead in three years. Three years is completely unreasonable but it has happened so keep it in mind.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    1 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Default

    Thanks to everyone for the info and suggestions so far.

    The builder we are working with does "semi custom" homes. Basically, there are grades of finishes we can choose from. We have already selected our desired grades and gotten a pretty solid price quote based on level 3 (of 5) finishes. If anything, we may be downgrading a few things, and we certainly aren't going to go super high end on anything except insulation.

    Our Realtor will be helping us with contracts and walk throughs. He has worked many years on the builder end of things, so he knows what to look for. He came highly recommended and we are very comfortable with him. I have a relative who is a real estate attorney in a different state, who will also be taking a close look at our contracts.

    The house is being built only 3 miles from where we live now, and the builder encourages us to stop by any time. They have a very good reputation in the area and we are confident

    Bluey- Part of the reason we chose to build rather than buy was the need for an accessible home for our daughter. All doorways will be ADA width so she can use her walker indoors, we're installing a walk in tub (she loves baths), and the front entrance will be ramped instead of having the standard 3 steps.

    Thanks again for the advice. We haven't signed anything yet, but a deposit has been put on the lot. Contracts will be done after the holidays and excavation should begin mid January. The estimated completion is late mid-July.
    "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
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    4,124

    Default

    I suggest, as a former bank officer, that you have some one who is versed in construction payments handle the transfer of payments to ensure you have a clear title once the structure is complete. I know of many cases whereas the owner did not have a clear title due to failure by the GC to fully pay the sub-contractors who filed liens on the property.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
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    8,212

    Default

    Once building starts, then no change orders! They are price killers, and people don't realize that one tiny change can cause a bunch of other changes, and the price goes up with each one. Make sure the garage is wide enough, deep enough, and tall enough to accommodate whatever your daughter rides in, so you won't be loading and unloading outdoors in bad weather. And so when you travel without your cars, that you can secure them.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009
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    5,377

    Default

    And even though the builder tells you to "stop by anytime", do not take that literally. It disrupts the flow of things to have the buyer constantly on site. The custom builders I worked for - all warm , wonderfully friendly guys and great with their buyers - had "visitation hours" built into the contract. They hated doing it but they'd had one too many experiences with jobs falling behind schedule because the buyers (usually the wife) kept showing up, confronting the trades, and then said trades would get mad and leave the job for the rest of the day.

    Try to schedule visits for when the builder will be on site; if he's not, save any questions for him. Even when there isn't a language barrier it just confuses everything to have the buyer trying to give direction to the trades.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2010
    Posts
    2,993

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Curb Appeal View Post
    DH and I have decided to put a recent inheritance toward a house after several years of apartment dwelling. Due to some very specific needs, we have decided to have a new home built. We have chosen a floorplan floorplan and the lot is reserved. Excavation is scheduled to start in about a month.

    I've purchased preexisting homes before, but building is a new thing for us. We have a Realtor representing us through the process, but it's still kind of scary.

    Does anyone who has ever been through the process have any suggestions or tips? Any details that may not have been considered?
    Be prepared to babysit the workers so they don't take shortcuts! Especially helps if you have a spouse who is handy and can oversee the activity...trust me on this one!
    Proud Member of the "I Don't Do Facebook" Clique



  17. #17
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    Make sure that your DD really can get up the ramp, use the doors, navigate the hallways.
    My DH put in the ramp for my mom and she thought they could build it with lumber on hand, he said no, you weigh over 300 pounds and she was really upset until she realized the chair had to be calculated into that.
    With three steps to be replaced you are looking at a long ramp - DH built mom's as a drive out and be able to stop and mess with the door so it is flat for three feet and then loses I think 7 inches in another three feet. It helps to have some sort of covering, mom's house has an inset front door so that works great, but a portico of some sort is a nice thing.

    They have to move one car out of the garage and mom has to go out the front door, across the covered patio to the outside man door in the garage - handy feature because the internal man door just doesn't have enough room for a ramp and fit the car in there, then they let down the van ramp and in she goes. It's a very tight fit for both cars, the house is rather old and among the first retirement subdivisions in that area. You really want to be able to get her into the vehicle without having to go out to the street, plan for it.

    If they offer a heavy wainscoting in the hallways take it. Mom has lived in her place 8 years now, 6 in the chair only, and they have a fair number of dings and marks on the walls. The extra wide hallways and doorways are a very useful feature.

    Semi-custom sounds like my neighbors house here. You buy the model and no changes are made to the design. I'm only familiar with either the subdivision builds or architect designed, the architect designed ones often have change orders as the vision becomes reality and this or that would be nicer.

    Don't close on the house until you are satisfied that all is completed to your satisfaction, and I hope it suits your family well!
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  18. #18
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    Mar. 10, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubyTuesday View Post
    Be prepared to babysit the workers so they don't take shortcuts! Especially helps if you have a spouse who is handy and can oversee the activity...trust me on this one!
    They've got a builder - he'll hire his own tradesmen and take care of any "babysitting".


    1 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
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    Feb. 14, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mara View Post
    And even though the builder tells you to "stop by anytime", do not take that literally. It disrupts the flow of things to have the buyer constantly on site. The custom builders I worked for - all warm , wonderfully friendly guys and great with their buyers - had "visitation hours" built into the contract. They hated doing it but they'd had one too many experiences with jobs falling behind schedule because the buyers (usually the wife) kept showing up, confronting the trades, and then said trades would get mad and leave the job for the rest of the day.

    Try to schedule visits for when the builder will be on site; if he's not, save any questions for him. Even when there isn't a language barrier it just confuses everything to have the buyer trying to give direction to the trades.
    I fully and completely disagree. The time you will get ripped off during the construction of a house is when you are not watching, and especially if you have no knowledge of what you are looking at. Slowing down the job and (maybe) paying a bit more is chump change compared to having the builder do something wrong, especially if it may go against code or be buried from sight due to no one seeing it happen. Be proactive with your investment...you will be living with it.
    Proud Member of the "I Don't Do Facebook" Clique


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Mar. 10, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubyTuesday View Post
    I fully and completely disagree. The time you will get ripped off during the construction of a house is when you are not watching, and especially if you have no knowledge of what you are looking at. Slowing down the job and (maybe) paying a bit more is chump change compared to having the builder do something wrong, especially if it may go against code or be buried from sight due to no one seeing it happen. Be proactive with your investment...you will be living with it.
    This is why you hire a reputable builder.


    3 members found this post helpful.

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