5 Things to Look for When Buying a New Construction House

– iStock 936176010 – 5 Things to Look for When Buying a New Construction House

Many homebuyers believe that purchasing a brand-new home is smarter than purchasing a “used” home, because they expect less maintenance and fewer repairs. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Whether you are involved in the entire construction process or are purchasing a recently built home, these tips can help you assess the quality of workmanship.

Hidden Defects

Similar to older homes, a brand-new house can have hidden defects, which could ultimately require costly repairs. Weak slabs can crack. Wood floors can warp. Heavy rains could expose waterproofing and grading issues that lead to flooding and leaks. In some instances, electrical systems could be improperly wired, leading to serious dangers. In others, the HVAC system might be too small for the plumbing. Whatever the case, it’s never a good idea to simply assume a new home will be properly constructed.

Since the average homeowner is unable to spot construction flaws, it’s very important to hire an accredited individual to perform an inspection. Additionally, there are some things you can do on your own to assess the quality of workmanship on a newly built home. These include:

  1. Investigate the builder. Check local court records, state licensing boards and review sites to see if the builder has run into any problems, including lawsuits from former clients. Check to see if licensing agencies have records of complaints, and see if the builder has faced disciplinary actions by local and state agencies. Ask the builder to put you in touch with former clients so you can see if they were satisfied with their new homes. If the builder seems hesitant, this could be a red flag.
  2. Look over the home’s skeleton. In essence, a home’s skeleton includes the all-important foundation, the roof covering, doors and windows. These features should have no cracks or irregularities whatsoever. Even if you have an untrained eye, you should carefully examine every one of these areas. If you see any issues, it’s best to walk away.
  3. Inspect the exterior. Take a long, slow walk around the outside of the newly built home with a notepad and camera in hand. Look for wavy siding and cracked stucco, along with gaps around doors, windows, hose bibs, ducts, pipes and electrical fixtures – these areas could be sources of water intrusion.
  4. Study your purchase agreement. As with every important business transaction, you need to get everything in writing. When buying a new construction home, most builders will use long purchase agreements that can be somewhat intimidating. Since most of these are written by attorneys, you should have a real estate professional on hand to represent your interests. You and your agent should carefully read through every part of the agreement before you sign it.
  5. Ask about warranties. Reputable builders back up their work with iron-clad warranties. Whether it’s a short-term, whole-house warranty or a long-term structural warranty, you want as much protection as you can get. Even if you have no questions about the builder, you should still consider requesting maximum warranty protection to shield yourself from unexpected costs down the line.

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