If you’re looking into building your dream home, it’s probably because you have very specific ideas and plans about what you want your house and yard to look and feel like.
Maybe you’ve done the research and can’t find a home on the market with exactly the features or floorplan you want. Maybe you’re just excited about the prospect of finding your own lot and customizing the homebuilding process from the ground up.
You shouldn’t have to compromise your vision for your dream home just for a bit of added convenience. But building a home from scratch can come with complications and hurdles that buyers of pre-built homes simply don’t have to deal with. That’s why it pays to do plenty of research upfront so you have a better idea of what you’re getting into.
If you’re considering contracting a builder to build a home to your own specifications, here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
First: The Difference Between a New Build and a Custom Build
Before we get into mistakes people make when building a home, we’ll need to clarify what “building new” means
You can either hire an architect to design a completely custom floor plan and then find a builder to bring that dream to life, or look for a homebuilder who is already building new homes similar to the one you’re looking for.
The latter type of homebuilders is sometimes called a “production builder.” Production builders specialize in buying land or lots that are suitable for new homes. They generally operate with a portfolio of home plans that their clients can customize — within reason — to suit their own needs and preferences.
According to this Washington Post article, “a high percentage of prospective home buyers start out thinking they may want to build a custom home but then end up buying an already built home or working directly with a builder to modify a home that is in the process of being built.”
One of the biggest reasons that most buyers eventually opt to work with production builders is that builders generally have the advantage when it comes to finding the best home sites. It takes a lot of expertise to evaluate potential lots, and individual home buyers generally don’t have the resources or knowledge to evaluate properties quickly enough to compete with builders. Builders spend tons of energy and resources on the quest for the best lots — and snap up many of them before they even go public.
Working with a production builder can be simpler and less expensive than going completely custom for other reasons, too. A completely custom job puts you in charge of hiring an entire team of people, from the architect to the builders to other contractors. Production builders have already established these relationships and have years of experience to rely on throughout the process.
Finally, homebuyers hoping to finance their home construction project may also face lending hurdles that production builders don’t have to worry about.
That said, regardless of whether you’re working with a custom builder or a production builder, you’ll need to watch out for these common mistakes.
Mistake 1: Choosing a Builder Based on Price
Building a home is never an inexpensive prospect. It may be tempting to choose the builder that seems to offer the best price on paper, or the lowest bid if you’re bidding out the project.
But you’ll have to do some research into how each builder came up with their bids and their prices to understand what’s included — and what isn’t — in each bid you receive.
Plus, even the most thorough contract or bid leaves plenty of room for builders to take financial advantage of you here and there as the project progresses. That’s why it’s a better idea to choose the builder that you trust and enjoy working with the most.
After all, you’ll be working with the builder for months, and trusting them with your family’s home for the foreseeable future. Paying a little more for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re working with the best is usually well worth it.
To check builders’ credentials, you can ask them for references. You may even try to check out communities they’ve built in the past and chat with any friendly neighbors who would be willing to share their experiences with you.
Mistake 2: Failing to Review Contracts Carefully
Reviewing a well-written contract is a crucial step to take before you officially begin your relationship with any home builder.
Agreements should include project details, schedule details, and cost projections, and they should clarify who is responsible for any delays or unexpected expenses that occur during the project.
This is not the time to skip the fine print. You should be able to understand everything in your building contract as a non-lawyer, but it’s also advisable to hire your own lawyer to review the contract before you sign it.
We all want to hope for the best, but even slight misunderstandings or ambiguity in this document could lead to plenty of expensive headaches down the road.
Mistake 3: Overlooking the HVAC System
When you’re building a home, you may rightly be most excited about things like your new custom floor plan or special add-ons like granite countertops or spacious garages.
But it’s a mistake to overlook the important role the HVAC system plays in a home’s health and its energy efficiency. Without a good HVAC system, you might also run into moisture issues that could go on to cause mold issues and impact your family’s health.
Pay attention to the sealing and installation of the ductwork to make sure things are as efficient as possible.
You can also ask your builder how the HVAC system will work and how it will be effective in each room of your home.
Mistake 4: Not Planning for Contingencies
You’ve heard about what happens to the best-laid plans, right? We can all appreciate optimism, but perhaps it’s more realistic to plan for a few things going wrong during what will be a complicated construction project.
If construction isn’t completed by the projected date, you’ll need to know how that will affect your mortgage costs, for example.
As we mentioned before, you’ll also need to know not just who will be responsible for unexpected expenses, but whether or not your builder has accounted for them in the cost estimates.
Some contractors include a “buffer” in their price estimates to account for things like materials’ price changes or unexpected repairs due to weather damage.You’ll need to know who will be responsible for any unexpected expenses in your homebuilding project, and whether your builder has accounted for them. Click To Tweet
Looking for a New Home in an Expertly Designed Neighborhood?
If you’re in the market for a brand new home, we invite you to check out Upper East River homes in Savannah.
These riverfront homes are being developed in the live-work-play community of Eastern Wharf, and they have all the most modern amenities plus a unique sense of historic charm that blends the community into the rest of historic downtown Savannah.
The community will include townhouse-style homes, loft-inspired spaces, and single family homes, all from longstanding, expert developer Patrick Malloy Communities.