Is New Home Construction Right For You?
Part 2: The Homebuilding Process!
March 16, 2016
By Kelly Wurth
The article provided below is the second in a series describing the homebuilding process. If you missed Part 1, click here to check-out Steps 1-5!
6. Pick a Floor-plan & Front Elevation
Keep in mind that Steps 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 may happen hand-in-hand or in a slightly different order. As you search for a homebuilder you will also be assessing floor-plans and neighborhoods. Maybe you will find a homebuilder you love, but not like any of their floor-plans or find out that they cannot build in your dream neighborhood or vice versa. When reviewing floor-plans either online, at model homes, or those provided during your meetings with homebuilders keep your budget, determined in Step 1, and your Needs and Wants list, determined in Step 2, at the forefront of your mind.
Keep communication lines open with homebuilders and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Often times even Production Home Builders are open to customizing a home to meet your needs. Moving a wall, converting an upstairs laundry room into a closet, adding/moving windows or doors, modifying kitchen and bathroom layouts, designing a master bedroom closet are a few examples of changes I have made in the past to ensure my new home met my needs and wants.
Typically all Floor-plans come with multiple front elevations (different styles/looks for the front of the home). Determine what suits you best; mediterranean, craftsman, traditional, etc. When considering this think about how you will decorate the interior and consider keeping the exterior and interior in-sync. On my third home I went with a Craftsman front elevation mainly because I love the exterior look of a Craftsman home, but also because because I wanted to decorate the interior in a rustic modern style. The interior structure of the home already had a rustic feel with large distressed beams on the ceiling of the living room and a two-sided stone fireplace with massive mantle leading out to a private covered patio. I wanted the outside to flow to the inside and vice versa.
7. Pick a Neighborhood
- Talk to your Realtor to get a list of new construction neighborhoods.
- Pick up local home magazines. These can often be found on racks at the entry and exit points of your local grocery stores. New Homes Journal
- Go for a Sunday drive and stop in at model homes.
- Once again, review your list of needs and wants from Step 2 to determine which neighborhoods meet your requirements.
8. Pick a Lot. Location & Size Matters!
Have you always dreamed of a corner lot or a cul-de-sac where your kids can play with neighbors? Is one of your goals to steer clear of busy streets or building directly across from the neighborhood pool or future elementary school? Do you want a big backyard for a dog to run or a future pool? Do you prefer seclusion where you are further from other homeowners? All important questions you will want to consider.
Another thing to determine is how your home with sit on the lot. In my opinion the most important consideration is what direction you want the front of the home to face. Consider your home’s floor-plan and the location of windows and doors. Would you prefer the morning sun shining in on you as you enjoy your cup of coffee in your breakfast nook? Do you plan to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening on your back deck or patio as you watch the sunset?
If you live in a climate where temperatures reach below zero and there is snowfall then I would advise you to avoid building a home where the front faces North. It’s never fun to walk out your front door in the morning to have your breath taken away by the below zero North wind or to have to wait extra days for your driveway to finally melt of snow and ice because the front of your home barely sees the sun.
Lastly, consider the grade of the lot. Grade refers to how the land slopes and where water collected on your lot will end up draining too. Will you be in a low lying area where all your neighbors lots will be draining onto your backyard when it rains? If possible, avoid this by picking a lot on a higher elevation. If impossible then don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your future homebuilder to ensure proper drainage.
9. Determine When to Start the Construction Process
If you live in a mild climate where it never gets truly cold and there is a minimal rainy season then feel free to begin at you and the homebuilders leisure, but if you live where there are four seasons then you may want to consider the following advice.
Step 1 of the construction process is digging and pouring your foundation which will be poured concrete. Concrete cures its best in mild temperates and minimal moisture so consider starting the homebuilding process under these climate conditions. If this is impossible then don’t worry just talk with your homebuilder and ensure the right steps are being taken to help the concrete cure correctly in the existing climate. Accelerators/additives can be included in a concrete mix and blankets or coverings used to allow for proper cure under varying conditions.
The final step in the home construction process is typically sod and landscaping. Make sure you ask your future homebuilder how long construction will take and think ahead. Try to ensure the landscaping and sod will go in during an optimal time to allow all the grass and plants to take root. If your home won’t be completed until winter then you may end up having to live with a muddy lot until Spring.
10. Construction Begins! Time to Choose the Options and Upgrades!
Choosing the options can be very exciting, but also very demanding. When thinking about the design options and upgrades of a new home the word “details” is an understatement. You will have to make decisions about the basics; paint color, flooring type, cabinets and hardware, but even beyond that are little things you would never even think about. Believe me the question that will come up many times during the interior design selection process will be; “What do they do in a normal home?” Be ready to either visit the model of your home, look at your existing home, or stop by your friends house to look at things such as light switch locations, floorboard size, styles of stair railings, types of sinks, styles of garage doors, etc.? Did you know that there are actually different sizes of bricks you can put on the exterior of your home? On my second home, I had to not only decide on brick size, but also color, texture and pattern arrangement. How was I to know what it would look like when complete? I ended up driving around and looking at a lot of brick houses during the month that decision was being made.
Get ready to make more decisions in a shorter period of time than you ever have in your life. Don’t get too scared this can be a lot of fun, but you need to be prepared and realistic about the amount of time it will take to decide on interior and exterior options and upgrades so make sure you get started right away as there will be a deadline when all of these decisions need to be finalized.
The Commitment is Just Beginning!
You may think that now that construction is underway and the options and upgrades are finalized you can just sit back and relax for the next 6 months, or however long construction takes, but don’t be so sure of this. During the construction process I visited the home nearly every day unless it was during a period of time where no construction was occurring. This will happen as their will be lulls in the schedule depending on weather, material availability as well as sub-contractors schedules. I visited the site daily because I am by training a Civil Engineer and I enjoy watching the construction process, but also because despite having a project manager their were mistakes and set backs. Many of which I caught during my daily peruse of the home.
You must realize that this is your home and you are the one paying for it therefore you are the person who cares about it the most. Not to say that homebuilders don’t care about the homes they build, but you must realize that they are most likely building a number of other homes in unison with yours. You on the other hand are just concerned about your future home. Keeping an eye on the construction process and communicating with your builder are key to success. Don’t think that you have to be an engineer to catch mistakes or variances from the plan and details that were agreed upon. Make sure to talk with your home builder about visiting the site as their will be restrictions due to safety and insurance concerns considering it is a construction site.
I will have more on these topics in next weeks article in this series where I will discuss the good, the bad, and the reality of new home construction.