Quality home construction is important to you, the home buyer, because a house will probably be the biggest investment of your life.
You need to be aware that quality home construction can vary widely. Take the time to ensure you’re getting the home you expect. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure the house of your dreams reflects quality home construction in every way.
Do Your Homework
Start by researching the builder. Ask Realtors as well as other residents who have bought homes from the builder about the quality of home construction. Ask whether they’ve experienced any quality issues and about whether the builder finished according to schedule.
Buying From Plans
When you buy a new home, you’re essentially buying from floor plans, artists’ renderings and models. Remember when you visit a model home that many of the beautiful features you see—think granite countertops and hardwood floors—are probably upgrades. Talk to the builder about what is included in the basic purchase price and what is an option that will cost more. This will give you an idea of the available scope of quality home construction.
Look carefully at the plans. Is this a layout in which you could live comfortably? Can you alter the plans? If it’s a custom home, some changes might be possible. But there might be architectural costs for those revisions. If you’re buying a home that’s part of a community or development of many or hundreds of homes, you might not be able to make changes.
You might also have some options when it comes to the number of bedrooms in a home or the façade at the front of the house. Again, talk to the builder and make sure you understand what you’re buying.
Remember the final outcome might be a little different from the floor plan. The builder has the discretion to change plans and features within reason. Get a full description of the home and all the details of quality home construction in writing before you buy. Make sure it specifies:
- floor coverings
- counters and cabinets
- plumbing and fixtures
- heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system
Examine Guarantees In Detail
Read the guarantee or warranty carefully, noting the promised completion date and what to do if there are any issues or shortcomings in verifying quality home construction. Remember contracts often have provisions for delays caused by circumstances beyond the builder’s control. Many Realtors will advise you to mentally add at least a month’s delay beyond the original completion date.
Look at what’s covered by the warranty. Windows, furnaces and other major components might be covered by separate guarantees.
Safely Watch For Quality Home Construction
Although you should visit the house while it’s under construction, remember that a construction site is dangerous. Make an appointment so you don’t interfere with workers. Take pictures while you’re at the building site. If you see something questionable, show the picture to your building team. If they blow it off, show it to another contractor or an expert for a second opinion. If you think there’s a problem with the quality of construction, push for it to be corrected.
Take a final walk-through of the finished home before the closing date with a licensed home inspector. Be sure to check:
- all exterior surfaces for cracks
- seals around windows and doors
- outside surfaces, including a patio (if there is one), deck and all concrete surfaces for wide cracks, gaps or unevenness
- stucco surfaces for wide cracks or flakes
- wood trim around doors and windows for gaps or overlapping
- ducts, vents, hoses and doors that could let in water and cold air
- roof, which should receive a professional inspection
Inside, look for:
- water stains around windows and doors and under sinks
- surface cracks in walls, ceilings or floors
- uneven tiles or floorboards
- gaps between boards or between wall and floor
- doors that stick or do not swing freely
- electrical switches and plugs that don’t work
Choosing a builder with a reputation for high-quality construction and keeping an eye on the details can help make the home-buying process that much more enjoyable.