Building a home from the ground up is a way to get exactly what you want. At least that is the theory. When you build rather than buy an existing home, you work with your builder and architect to come up with something that will make you happy. A lot can happen between the time you sign the contract and the day you receive the keys. There are construction surprises waiting around every corner.
You may not understand just how difficult it is to build a home. Housing tract builders make it look easy by putting up new homes at breakneck speed. But things go on behind the scenes, things you would never know without investing in a new build yourself.
Here are the top five new construction surprises home buyers face:
1. The Time Construction Takes
Driving by a housing tract on your way to work gives you a daily view of houses going up. However, it is easy to be fooled into thinking those houses are going up in mere weeks. As a general rule, three months is the bare minimum. It can take some builders up to six months to complete a tract home. If you are building a custom-designed home on a separate parcel of land, expect six months to a year.
2. Builders and Architects Clash
In a tract home environment, builders are working with a small number of pre-defined floor plans open to some modification. They are not working with individual architects and new plans for every house. But when you are doing a custom build, builders and architects have to work together. Sometimes they clash.
Sparano + Mooney, a Utah architect who designs luxury homes throughout the Park City area, says that it isn’t unusual for architects and builders to not see eye-to-eye. They recommend choosing an architect first and then letting that architect recommend a builder with whom they have past experience.
3. The Number of Decisions Required
Home buyers are often surprised by the number of decisions they have to make. They are given a basic starting point and then asked to decide on a variety of options. They have to decide what they want to do with flooring and window treatments. They have to make decisions about color palettes, appliances, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, lighting fixtures, and on and on.
4. Limited Allowances from Builders
In most instances, builders work with a static set of options and allow customers to make modifications. For example, a buyer may not be all that fond of the appliance options that come with their particular floor plan. So instead, they elect to purchase their own appliances directly. This should result in an allowance from the builder. However, they may be surprised just how limited those allowances are. Builders certainly don’t pay a lot back to buyers who choose to utilize allowances.
5. Cost Overruns
The final surprise is perhaps the most shocking of all: cost overruns. It is exceedingly rare for a new build to be completed at or below budget. There are almost always cost overruns. Even when a builder stays within their designated budget, home buyers still find themselves running to the hardware store to buy this, that, and the other things. They end up spending more money out of pocket than they had anticipated.
None of this is to say that building a home from scratch is a bad idea. Quite to the contrary, it is a great idea. Buyers should just make a point of going into the building experience with an open mind. There are going to be surprises.