A brand-new home. A home that has never been lived in before is referred to as a new construction home. There’s something special about moving into a house that hasn’t been lived in previously, especially as it’s akin to a blank canvas, allowing you to customize it to your liking.
Maybe you’re in the market for a new home, and with the way the housing market is, you’d like to explore buying a new construction house. Building or buying a new construction home comes with pros and cons, and the different types of construction give you additional options in terms of the customizations you can do.
Today, we will explore new construction homes and answer many common questions we receive about them. Let’s dive in.
New Construction Homes in Idaho
Let’s look at the three types of new construction homes available: production, semi-custom, and custom.
A production builder is just like the name implies, builds a lot of homes. Production builders typically have a specific number of floorplans available for a community with a set number of flooring, paint, and lighting options. Production homes tend to be less expensive than semi-custom and custom homes.
A semi-custom home builder typically requires you to start with an existing floorplan and adjust the design until it works for you. These builders usually have a more extensive design selection process to design the home to fit your specific style preferences. While there is some choice, there are limitations on what can be selected. And those limitations will need to work within the parameters established by the builder.
A custom home builder is akin to a blank canvas. They don’t typically require you to start with a specific floorplan and will work with you to create the home of your dreams, allowing you to customize just about every detail in the house. As you can imagine, custom homes can be expensive depending on the home’s location and materials. Building custom allows you to buy the land and bring your builder.
Now that we’ve identified the types of new construction homes let’s dive a little deeper into the particulars.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Building
One of the first things you need to decide is where you want to live. With many new construction communities available here in the Treasure Valley, there’s bound to be one close to where you would like to live. Maybe you want to live somewhere outside the city. Perhaps, you want to live close to award-winning schools. Perhaps you’re looking for a new home near amenities. As you can see, there are a few things you need to consider initially.
Next, you’re going to need to decide what type of new construction home you want to buy. Using the classes defined above, do you want production, a semi-custom, or a custom? As you can imagine, the budget will be an essential consideration when deciding the type of home. Also, certain communities may only cater to a specific kind of home, e.g., a production community.
Once you decide on the type of construction, you’ll start the process of finding communities where that type of home is built. Of the available neighborhoods for your specific home build type, what kind of amenities are included? Does it have a pool? An HOA? Playground? Lush landscaping? Walking paths? Those are some things to consider when selecting a community.
Once you’ve decided on a community and a type of home build, it’s time to select a builder. Often, a production builder is the only builder in a given community, so it makes a choice pretty simple. If you’re looking at a semi-custom build, you’ll typically have a few different home builders to choose from. Custom builders will only build in certain developments or on private lots.
And no, you can’t bring your own builder to a semi-custom community.
Choosing a Lot and a House
In some communities, you can choose to buy a spec home. A spec home is a new construction home where the builder has already selected the lot, floorplan, and finishes. Usually, the buyer cannot change any of the selections, and no structural changes are allowed.
Buying a spec home allows people to buy a new construction home, and since no changes are permitted, the price should remain the same during the process. To deliver the most cost-effective home, builders may choose only to offer spec home options.
Semi-custom opportunities require you to find a builder with a lot available in your preferred community. Since similar floorplans are not allowed to be repeated near one another, you may need to rely on the builder and their real estate agent to guide you to an available lot that can accommodate your selected floorplan.
Once you’ve decided on a floorplan and a lot, the builder can usually give a price for a standard build of the home. If you choose to move forward, a lot deposit may be required to hold the lot for a limited amount of time. During this time, you can meet with the builder to discuss floorplan changes and adjustments. Once the modifications have been approved, a contract will be executed. At this time, a down payment will be required as earnest money and becomes non-refundable. Every builder is different with regards to a down payment, but ten percent is customary.
The Build Process
Building a home is an exciting experience with a lot of moving parts. Many builders follow a similar timeline as below, but of course, there may be some variances depending on the type of build and contractor availability.
- Finalize building plans and purchase contract
- Meet with the builder’s designer to make all finish selections
- Submit for a building permit
- Start construction by preparing the lot and pouring the foundation
- Electrical and Plumbing Rough-Ins
- Exterior finishes
- Landscaping and fencing (weather-permitting)
- Insulation and drywall
- Interior paint
- Tile/hardwood flooring
- Appliance Delivery and installation
- Finalize mechanicals
- Certificate of Occupancy issued by the city
- New Home Orientation with the superintendent
- Final Cleaning
During the build, you may have the opportunity to tour the home with a member of the builder’s build team and the builder’s real estate agent to get any questions answered. Making changes to the house during these walkthroughs may cause construction delays. Also, it is at the builder’s discretion whether or not to allow changes.
As exciting as it is to have a new home being built, you should always have permission when visiting the job site. Unaccompanied visits are not allowed at any time during construction for safety and insurance purposes. And while the home may eventually be yours, the building site is still considered private property.
As closing day approaches, the builder will let you know when the home is available for a third-party inspection. Also, they’ll coordinate a time for a new home orientation, where you’ll become familiar with the house and its systems, learn the builder’s warranty process, and blue tape any cosmetic defects that need to be touched up before closing. Cosmetic imperfections are not typically warrantied.
Also, if you want to have custom window coverings installed at closing, it’s best to measure the windows at least six weeks before closing. Also, if you’re going to have the garage floor epoxied, it’s best to do this on the day of closing as it takes several days to cure.
Once all documents have been signed, and the closing becomes official on closing day, all parties will be notified. The builder’s real estate agent will inform the buyer and the buyer’s real estate agent of the garage code, location of keys, and how to obtain mailbox and pool keys (if applicable).
Most builders warranty their homes for one year from the date of closing. You’ll be given the builder’s warranty and be provided information on how to submit a claim. Be sure to read the contract carefully, explaining what’s covered and what’s not on the new home.
Building a New Home Q&A
Q. How long does it take?
A. Depends on how large the house is, whether there are construction delays due to labor shortages, delays in materials, etc. Generally, anywhere from six months to a year from start to finish.
Q. How can I finance the down payment?
A. Lenders have programs to help pay for new construction homes. You can speak with a lender to learn more.
Q. Can I make changes to the house after construction has started?
A. It depends. Some builders will allow alterations, generally for a change fee, as alterations can cause delays and scheduling issues after plans have been approved. It never hurts to ask, but don’t expect or assume the builder will approve your request.
Q. What’s warrantied with a new construction home?
A. Generally, most of the home’s mechanical components are covered by the warranty. There may be some exclusions.
The Last Word
While it will take several months to be complete, building or buying a new construction home is incredibly exciting and is well worth the wait. Just make sure you don’t do anything to jeopardize getting the home loan.
Photo Credit: iStock.com/fstop123