It is fun to help people buy brand new homes.
When buyers contract with a builder from scratch, they get to make the upgrade and color selections themselves at the design center. Choosing
everything from the exterior brick to the faucets can be overwhelming - even exhausting, but the home is put together to your specifications, as allowed by the builder.
Buyers get to see the whole process: the slab and flat work, the "bones" of the house aka framing, the exterior cladding whether brick, siding, stucco or other, and the interior being finished out piece by piece.
New home buyers can also purchase spec homes. The upgrades and color selections have already been chosen by the builder, and sometimes the home is even move-in ready. There is less waiting time for the buyers and often the pricing is great.
Some options are easy to improve or install after move-in: things like light fixtures, ceiling fans, knobs, 2" blinds and of course custom painting. Check pricing and whether these upgrades or options are even offered by a particular builder.
Some upgrades are more difficult to get customized to your needs, such as sprinkler systems. They may be installed per builders sub-contractors thoughts, not your future gardening plans. Confirm before purchase that you can submit in writing your sprinkler system layout plan and then turn it in for written approval right away, so it will be installed per your specifications.
If you build from scratch, there will probably be several buyer meetings during the construction process. You should get a chance to talk with the construction manager as he explains the process to you. Near your closing date, you will develop a punch list. This is a list of items, cosmetic, functional, etc., that you wish the builder to correct before you bring money to the closing table.
A good time to create your punch list is when the home inspector you have hired (Yes! for new construction!) is inspecting the property. Methodically go through the home room by room and take notes on any and all desired corrections. Use all your "senses" to detect any errors. Some items to consider:*
Ceramic Tile: grout applied evenly and without gaps, grout color even (be aware that builders may stain the grout instead of using colored grout)
Carpet: stretched taut or are there rooms that already need to be stretched (not a good sign), bumps or lumps underfoot?
Wood: smooth, even surface with no damage?
Baseboard: Level, well-mitered, and no gaps between flooring and baseboard?
Cabinets: surface is smooth and free of paint, uneven stain or other damage? A piece of blue painters tape next to the damage signals the need for repair (check with the builder on this)
Counter: whether granite, corian, laminate or other man-made or natural surface, run your hands along the entire surface, feeling for pits or blobs that indicate a repair is needed. View the surface of the counter at a low angle to see if it is scratched and needs to be buffed or smoothed.
Appliances: installed well, level and no damage?
Sink: installed properly, no damage to surface, drain plug and any other accessories included?
Outlets: are they level, evenly installed, or do they need to be adjusted? GFCI, to code per inspector?
Can Lights: are bulbs centered in the can? Your inspector can check for insulation that is too close to the fixture in the attic (one-story).
- CEILING FAN(s)
Are they making a clicking noise? Ask for an adjustment so they are centered, level and quiet. All speeds and the light work?
Counters free from damage or scratches? Light fixtures installed appropriately, centered over sinks or counters, level? Towel rack and shower curtain rod level? Cabinets without damage and all knobs in place? Toilets flush properly and faucet water flow is good?
- LIGHT SWITCHES and ELECTRICAL OUTLETS
Many light switches are double or triple in new homes. Is the electrical feature turned on by the switch logical? If not, ask for a correction. Do you want to turn on the fan in the laundry room every time you think you are going to turn on the light?
Outlets throughout the home may be askew. Mark them with blue tape (or per your builders instructions) so they get adjusted.
There are many other details to check for your Punch List. The inspector will also talk to you about his finindings and give you a report that you can mention as one of the items on your list: correct (specific), or correct (all) items in the inspection report. See if the builder will accept a copy of the inspectors report to work from. Any handwitten list needs to be LEGIBLE.
Go over the punch list with the builders construction manager, who should tell you whether certain items will not be corrected, or not. Make sure you know, well before closing, if they will make cosmetic repairs after closing. It varies. This may be your only chance. Either way your punch list should be as thorough as possible.
Building a new home from the ground up is a rewarding, but sometimes aggravating process because you are not in control of it, experience. True joy comes when you get the keys and head to your new home.
*Please note that punch list items are only for you to consider, you would be wise to talk with experts in your area, such as your home inspector, and if you get a chance also talk with sub-contractors who install specific items, they do that all day long. Builders may vary their process from above.
SARA GOSS, REALTOR®
HatmakerGroup.com GMAC Real Estate
Search Area Listings: www.har.com/saragoss
Helping home buyers find the home of their dreams in the greater Galveston/Houston area of Texas.
I also represent home sellers when they want to sell their home.
When you purchase a new construction home, as your buyers representative I can assist you during the whole process. (selecting a builder and a home, negotiating price, design center visits, and so on, for as long as it takes . . . .
until you have the keys and I am congratulating you!)