Where to start with new construction
There is so much to know when you decide to build a home. Take a look at our list below for guidance on important things to consider before you start interviewing builders and vital items to avoid overlooking. Scroll down for a printable version of the checklist!
First things first: Choose a REALTOR
We recently wrote a blog post about why it’s crucial to work with a REALTOR for your new build. First of all: Why not?! Builders generally have the cost of a real estate agent factored into your sales price anyway. You might think that the builder’s sales rep can help you through the process without a real estate agent. But it’s important to keep in mind that the sales rep is working for the builder and ultimately advocates for the builder’s interests. Why not have an REALTOR representing you and your best interests? It’s also great to have another set of eyes during your building process who has walked through this process multiple times and knows what to look for.
Pro Tip: You need to let the sales team at the builder office know right away that you plan to work with a REALTOR. Otherwise you might not be allowed to pull one in after you have registered your name.
New Construction Checklist
There’s a lot to think about when deciding on plans and details for new construction. The builder will offer floorplans unless you are starting a fully customized home. Builders will usually allow only minor customization and options, like an additional garage bay, optional bathrooms or other features. Many times buyers don’t yet know exactly what they want or what to look for until they see the plans. Some may not even realize that they can ask for certain things before the building process begins. We have compiled a list of tips and suggestions generated from our own experiences and from clients who have been through the process.
- Keep your wish list handy while looking at floorplans.
- It’s worth it to hire an architect or interior designer to review your plans and optimize as needed.
- For custom or semi-custom homes, get quotes from different builders.
- Upgrades have high markups. Work with an architect to have upgrades built into the house plan. It will save money.
- Think about the long term. Do you plan on staying here long? Consider building your home in a way that allows you to age in place.
- Consider the layout and size of your lot. How will the house fit on it?
- If a walk out basement is on your wish list, you’ll need a very specific lot to make that happen.
- If you have a corner lot, how will that impact the entryway or driveway?
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- How will your landscaping or your neighbor’s landscaping impact the house?
- Where would you like outdoor spigots placed?
- How deep is the garage? Will your vehicle fit?
- Do you want the garage painted? Insulated?
- Do you want upgrades like stamped or stained concrete in the garage, patios or driveway?
- Pavers or concrete? What about a walkway from the street parking to the front door?
- Does the driveway have sufficient turnaround space?
- Plans for patios? Decks?
- Does the kitchen have enough organization? Hooks?
- Do you want a coffee nook?
- Consider the counter depth in kitchen and bathrooms.
- Counter heights: do you need to make adjustments for taller or shorter family members?
- Think about the shower head height.
- What about the size of tubs and showers? Is there room for an XL tub?
- What are the ceiling heights?
- Have studs placed in the middle of walls for hanging art and décor.
- What color and type of caulking will be used?
- Do you want bathroom, laundry or kitchen hookups in the basement?
- Is the water heater a sufficient size (for that XL tub!)?
- Will there be closet shelving? Standard plans rarely include enough shelving.
- Think about nooks, crannies, and shelves: add those to your builder plans before starting.
- Consider the number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- ***FLOORING*** Be very careful about flooring. The number one issue we hear is that buyers wish they had sourced out their own flooring and spent extra money upfront for quality flooring. Builders usually provide sub-par flooring OR upgraded flooring comes with a very high markup. Spending the extra money now to upgrade flooring by sourcing it out yourself will save you money in the long run by not having to replace it in a few years.
- Consider bedroom placement. What will the windows be facing? You may not want your bedroom window next to your neighbor’s driveway.
- Which side of the house do you want your garage on?
- Do you want the laundry room next to the master bedroom?
- Do you want the master bedroom on the main floor?
- Where will the attic access be?
- Think about your house based on optimization of natural light. The north side will be hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
- Make sure to have overhead lights in each room (versus having to rely on plug-in lamps).
- Recessed lighting or light fixtures?
- Do you want lights under kitchen cabinets?
- Do you want a light over the kitchen sink?
- Do you want GFI outlets under the eaves for outdoor lights during the holidays?
- Switch by the front door for holiday lights?
- Pick which walls you want with cable access ports in each room.
- Junction boxes for ceiling fans in each room (even if you don’t install fans right away it is much easier to have junction boxes installed from the beginning).
- Do you want wiring for speakers? In which rooms?
- Do you want an upgraded thermostat? Location of thermostat?
- Do you want extra electrical outlets?