New Construction: From a Newbie
I can start by saying, I didn’t know about all of the things I didn’t know. If you’re new to new construction, it can seem like a whirl wind trying to make decisions on how you want your future home to look and function. My best advice is to plan ahead, walk through at every opportunity given, and get opinions from people you trust who have also had a home build previously.
Plan ahead: When you get started with the basic floor plan for your future home, that’s the bare bones of what you get. The next thing you will get is a list of available upgrades (or if you’re going through a custom builder, bring your list of desired upgrades). There are several items that we did and did not plan for, some of which we got advice on. For example, I was talked into pre-wiring for a ceiling fan in the living room. I had little desire for a fan because we were planning on having air conditioning installed, but I became increasingly happy to have it when the A/C went out and we had room in the budget to run and grab a fan while waiting for the HVAC people to come fix things. Moral of the story: If you think you may want it sometime in the future, pre-wire/stub/install it. It might not be in the budget now, but in the future, you don’t want to have to remodel to make a simple update.
Items I might suggest planning for include: pre-wiring for fans in common areas (even covered porches), laying ductwork for future A/C, laying sprinkler lines or adding zones for future landscaping, stub a spot for a future gas fireplace or stub the exterior for a gas grill, high voltage outlets for tools or electric cars or hot tubs, and soffit sockets if you do any holiday or patio lighting. There is so much more, depending on your taste and needs.
Walk Throughs: We had many walk throughs and some builders are more likely to allow impromptu walk throughs than others, so check with your builder on their policy. When you do get in, try to keep in mind what your plans state and ask for any clarification on something that may not look right. Chances are, you’re either right about a mistake or certain changes needed to be made structurally for safety reasons. Either way, it never hurts to ask. The nice thing is that this is your house and you will know all the ins and outs of it, due to having been there from start to finish.
Opinions: Try not to get too bogged down here. Everyone has their opinions about what they do and don’t love about their own house. For example: my in-laws mentioned that their outdoor gas fireplace and their spa/hot tub never got any use, so they suggested against such upgrades, but if you entertain a lot, that might be your thing. We don’t, so we don’t miss it. Some people love trash compactors or even a pull out trashcan that can be hidden; we love not having to see the trash. Fiberglass showers vs tiled showers…the list goes on! the main idea here is to get opinions from those who have gone before, but to take everything with a grain of salt.
Overall Thoughts: As you go through the process, keep in mind that you are not seeing the finished project at whatever stage you are in, until you get to your final walk through. Some things will be fixed, covered over, or done at a later time. Don’t panic, ask questions. Even on your final walk through, there may still be a punch list of items that need to be addressed. Inquire about your builder’s plans for these items and follow up to make sure they are finished. Building is a long and tedious process, but worth it, in my opinion. You will need the ability to speak up as needed, but most importantly, you will need patience. Best of luck to all of the future new construction buyers!