Part 2: The Homebuilding Process!
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!
- 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 or removing a non-load bearing wall, converting an upstairs laundry room into a closet, adding/moving windows or doors, modifying kitchen and bathroom layouts, customizing a master bedroom closet are a few examples of changes I’ve seen Production Home Builders allow.
Typically all floor-plans come with multiple front elevations (different styles/looks for the front of the home). Determine what style 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 if you want the outside style to flow inside. On one of my homes I went with a Craftsman front elevation mainly because I love the exterior look of a Craftsman home, but also 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 and a two-sided stone fireplace with massive mantle leading out to a private covered patio.
Tip: Check-out the book Styled by Emily Henderson. It contains a quiz that helps you “name your style”.
- Pick a Neighborhood
- Talk to your Realtor to get a list of new construction neighborhoods.
- Google it! Search for New Construction Homes in the city you want to move too.
Once again, review your list of needs and wants from Step 2 to determine which neighborhoods meet your requirements.
- Pick a Lot. Location & Size Matters!
Questions you want to consider.
- Have you always dreamed of a large corner lot?
- Is one of your goals to steer clear of busy streets and have a home on a cul-de-sac lot where your kids can play safely?
- Do you want your home to be directly across from the neighborhood pool or future elementary school?
- Do you want a big backyard for a dog to run?
- How about room for a future pool in your back yard?
- Do you prefer a private lot where you are further from other homeowners?
- Does the neighborhood have HOA restrictions?
- Do you want a daylight or walkout basement?
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 consider avoiding a north facing home. It’s never fun to walk out your front door in the morning and have your breath taken away by the below zero North wind or to have to wait extra days for the snow to melt off your driveway.
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. Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your future homebuilder to ensure proper drainage.
- Determine When to Start the Construction Process
If you live where there are four seasons vs. a mild climate year round then you may want to consider the following advice.
Once construction permits have been obtained by your builder, Step 1 of the construction process is digging and pouring your concrete foundation. Concrete cures its best in mild temperates and minimal moisture so it’s best to start the homebuilding process under these 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. I’ve seen this done incorrectly and it causes a headache for the future homeowners. Often homeowners don’t become aware of the negative issues until after the homes warranty has expired.
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.
- Construction Begins! Time to Choose the Options and Upgrades!
When choosing 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.
The one question that comes up many times during the design selection process is; “What do they do in a normal home?”
Be ready to either visit the model of your home, talk with representatives at home design centers, look at your existing home to determine things such as light switch locations, floorboard size and layout options, styles of stair railings, types of sinks, styles of garage doors, pros and cons of countertop material options, etc.? Years ago on one of my own homes, I had to decide on brick size, 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.
Get ready to make more decisions in a shorter period of time than you ever have in your life. It can be fun, but you need to be prepared and realistic about the amount of time it will take to decide on options and upgrades. Make sure you get started right away as there will be a deadline when changes can no longer be made.
The Commitment is Just Beginning!
You may think that once construction is underway and the options and upgrades are finalized you can just sit back and relax for the next 6-12 months, but don’t be so sure of this. During the construction process most soon to be homeowners are excited and visit the construction site weekly. Some homebuilders support this but others caution you visiting due to liability in case you have an accident. My best advice is to communicate with your builder to understand their regulations and expectations.
I have found that despite having a project manager there are mistakes and set backs that happen. Many of which homeowners catch during their weekly inspection of the home. If you don’t understand the construction process it is a good idea to have a Realtor, like me, who has new home construction experience and knows what to expect and what to look out for during construction.
This is your future 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, but 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, Realtor and project manager are key to success.
Check back for my next article, Part 3: The Good, The Bad and The Reality of Homebuilding in 2023!