Buying a new construction home is a smart investment. Moving into a brand new home provides assurance that all features and finishes are brand new, there’s no cumbersome history of wear-and-tear or a lack of maintenance, and that the home purchase includes fresh warranties.
The hope is that nothing major will turn up in that first year, but your pre-purchase research is the best chance of making sure your home is everything you’re dreaming it to be and so that you aren’t stuck with a long string of never-ending customer service items.
Knowing what to look for in a new construction home before getting into a contract will support the purchase of a well-built home constructed with durable, efficient, and reputable products, and that serves as a haven for many years to come.
Make Sure Your New Construction Home Meets These Three Criteria
Here are three criteria you want to look for or verify before purchasing a new construction home.
1. The Builder Has a Solid Reputation
Ask the builder for references from prior clients or buyers in previous developments. Ideally, your home is built by a firm with at least 10 years of solid residential construction under its belt and has gained some level of positive, community recognition. Working with a reputable, local builder allows you to speak with both recent and historical clients.
Builders are human, and they make mistakes. So, for example, there’s nothing wrong with hearing that a particular homeowner encountered a roof leak within their first few high winds or storm seasons. You also want to hear that the contractor responded immediately to the client’s call and sent their own crew or the original roofing contractor out immediately to repair or replace the weak link.
The more previous buyers you speak to, the better chance you’ll have of assessing the quality of the builder’s craftsmanship along with their (and their subcontractors) customer service history and response.
2. It’s a Post-Construction Home
If you aren’t 100% set on buying a pre-construction home in a particular subdivision or development, limit your home views to post-construction options.
Getting to walk through the home you will purchase versus a model home is a more confident way to move forward with your home purchase because you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. This is particularly true if you’re purchasing a home from a relatively new developer on the market. The good news is that Florida has an abundance of post-construction homes to choose from, which gives you the upper hand.
Builders keep an eye on their inventory during walk-throughs with prospective buyers. As such, you’ll buy a home that has already had a few kinks worked out as they showed up over time. Also, builder pricing gets more competitive the longer a new home sits on the market, so buyers can save thousands of dollars more than if they’d purchased the home before completion.
If you do plan to purchase a pre-construction home, do your homework. Most developers have stunning model homes that are used to sell their products. Not surprisingly, these model homes are decked out with all of the bells and whistles. The problem is that prospective buyers assume their house will look just like that for the advertised price. Not so.
Ask the developer’s sales representatives to provide paperwork detailing the pricing differences between standard features and the model’s options, and upgrades. That’s the only way can begin budgeting for what your desired home plan and interior features would cost.
3. DIY Home Inspection Checklist
There are a few things the average homebuyer can look for when walking through prospective post-construction homes. Think of it like a DIY home inspection, which should always be followed by a professional home inspection to verify the home is structurally sound.
Giving your contractor a “punch-list” gives them a chance to correct things before you move in.
- Verify that light switches work (including three-ways, which are often reversed and can be re-wired before you move in)
- Check that all electrical outlets work
- Test faucets and examine under-sink plumbing for any signs of drips or previous leaks
- Open and close all drawers, cabinets, and closets, so any loose or misaligned hinges/tracks are repaired
- Take a peek into the attic to make sure wiring, ducts, plumbing, and insulate look neat and tidy
- Take a look around the roofline of the attic for evidence of leaks around the perimeter or where there are any penetrations (plumbing, electrical, ventilation, internet/AV, etc.)
- Look for evidence of sloppy painting around ceilings and trim pieces
- Check to make sure ceiling fans work and are balanced
- Run the HVAC and listen for any strange or clunky sounds
- Open and close windows and slider doors to make sure they slide easily along the tracks and that the locks function properly
- Walk the exterior of the home looking to check the status of trim, gutters, paint, etc., which may have slipped through their punch list cracks
- Note any squeaks or loose hardwood floors or tiles
Create a detailed, room-by-room list of everything that doesn’t work correctly or doesn’t seem quite right and present it to the builder. They should schedule any necessary repairs with the customer service department. Ideally, the punch list items will be corrected by the customer service team before you move in.
Schedule a Home Inspection at the 11-Month Mark
Once your new construction home closes escrow, make a calendar reminder for the 10 to 11-month mark. The builder’s one-year warranty items should be professionally inspected at this point in case there is any repair or replacement work that needs to be noted and scheduled before the warranty window runs out.
This 11-Month Inspection is a whole-home inspection that evaluates all of the major home systems included in a 4-point inspection (roofing, insulation, HVAC, plumbing/electrical). All non-structural items should be repaired before the warranty expires.
Super Inspection Pros prides themselves on professional, accurate, and detailed inspections and a guaranteed 24-hour turnaround time. After we’re done, we provide clients with a detailed report that homeowners can share electronically with their builder/developer and their home insurance carrier. Contact us to order and schedule a pre-contract or 11-month inspection for your new construction home or give us a call at 386-279-0802, and we’ll answer any questions you may have.