Is a Newly Constructed Home the Right Move for You?
April 30, 2019
Sarah Kirsch Richardson
If you’re on the hunt for a new place to call home-sweet-home, you may be considering building a new home vs. purchasing a pre-owned home. You’re not alone! According to Forbes.com, 41% of Americans either somewhat or strongly prefer a newly-built home over an existing one. There is certainly appeal in being the first residents of a new home. However, it’s extremely important to weigh the options and decide the best path for your lifestyle and budget.
One of the more common statistics regarding new home building is that it costs around 20% more than purchasing a pre-existing home. If you plan to hire an architect and work with a contractor to build a fully custom home, the price increases significantly. On the other hand, building a semi-custom home and working with a developer can be a more cost-efficient option in the realm of home building. In this scenario, you’re limited to the base options a builder provides and you’ll pay extra for every upgrade, so it’s vital to keep your maximum budget top-of-mind when you see the first price tag. When it comes to making “custom” decisions, you may only be given a handful of options to choose from. However, this can be a good thing for those who are overwhelmed with the endless decision-making process. Instead of weighing the pros and cons of 400 countertops, you’ll only have to choose between 10.
Whether you’re considering fully-custom or semi-custom, there are many advantages of building a new home. Starting from scratch means you’ll have the opportunity to incorporate energy-saving options that generally result in lower bills each month. You’ll be privy to the latest trends in floor plans, like an open-concept first floor or a large kitchen island with all the bells and whistles. Technology upgrades can also be an appealing add-on for those who like the idea of a ‘smarter home.’ Semi-custom homes are generally built in neighborhoods together near popular areas in the city, meaning a ‘forgot the milk’ scenario is just a quick trip around the corner and back. Newly built homes also generally come with a (limited-time) warranty, so if something doesn’t work when you move in, you’re covered, assuming it’s something outlined in the warranty.
Be sure to consider the disadvantages before jumping into this expensive new construction project. First, remember that you probably won’t be the only one building a new home in the neighborhood, there will be lots of building activity that could go on for years, meaning you’ll be living in a construction zone for the first several years after the move. And this comes after waiting a minimum of six months, depending on the area climate, for your home to be built. New construction can also mean there are no trees in your yard when you move in. So, if laying in the natural shade on a sunny day is your go-to relaxation activity, you better start planting. Keep in mind that the locations of semi-custom homes generally don’t offer the opportunity for large backyards. They’re built on smaller lots and much closer together than you might like. If Lassie needs a big yard to run and you enjoy your privacy away from the neighbors, a semi-custom home may not be the best choice for you. Also, newer homes are just that, new. If you’re a person who enjoys homes with ‘charm,’ that will come at a price.
If you’re building a semi-custom home, you’ll be working with a representative from the model homes, and their job is to support the interests of the builders, not the buyers. Hiring a realtor to ensure you’re not getting the short end of the stick can be a valuable investment when all is said and done. Also, get everything in writing from the builder. Not doing so can be costly when a builder ‘forgets’ conversations around requests that are important to you. Without written proof, there’s no chance for legal action to get what was promised.
Just as it is with any big life decision, do your research and ask questions. Talk to people in your network who have built their own homes. It’s such a big investment and a long process, chances are, they’ll open up and tell you exactly what you need to know.