The Headaches of New Construction

Who doesn’t want new? Buying a new home–new build-can be wonderful and it can be really stressful. Trust us, we know. Diana and I spent 20 years selling new homes–working for builders. We were the agents who sat in a model home all day, just waiting for you. Actually we had a lot of things to do but, that is the impression most people had of us. We probably spent more time with the buyers than their agent even though we did not represent them. That’s right, we represented the seller–the builder. Many customers who came into the model home, thought we were their (the customer’s) agent. So here is a head’s up–if you are a buyer looking at new construction–make sure you have an agent. The on site agent has to protect their client–the builder. Though we did everything we could to protect you (the buyer) our loyalty was with our client–even if we didn’t agree.

Many buyers head out on their own to look at model homes. This is fine but, make sure the on-site agent knows that you have an agent. In fact, if you can, have your agent call ahead to let the on-site agent know you might stop by without them. Don’t sign anything with out your agent being present.

We are not going to get into representation because this is really about new construction. When you are buying new and starting from the ground up there is plenty of time and room for errors. Know what you want when you write the contract. After the contract is written it is difficult to make changes and/or add ons. Here is an example: You write a contract and after it is binding you realize you forgot to include the island in the kitchen -which was an option. Though you do not see anything being done, it does not mean it is an easy change. Many builders today use a computer program to order all their vendors. What this means is: Upon a binding agreement, the contract and all it’s content is sent to all the subcontractors to place orders. An island requires electrical (on a slab that is underground), it requires cabinets and countertops. It may require additional lights. It seems like such a simple fix but, the cabinets have been ordered, countertops have been ordered and electric has been ordered–without the island. Again, there seems to be plenty of time–right? Well, before any changes can be made, an amendment must be written and signed by all parties.

Let’s say the builder agrees and the amendment is now binding. You go into the house as it is being built and you don’t see where the island is suppose to go. Where is the electric coming out of the floor? It should be there–the amendment was signed last week. Well, the electrician didn’t get the amendment yet, so it was built according to the original contract. It doesn’t mean you won’t get it, it just means there are some things that will have to be “fixed” first. If this is a slab, the concrete will have to be broken up to run the conduit and electric. It’s going to look real messy–but it’s ok–don’t get upset.

The next time you go in you notice the cabinets are installed but not the island. Oops, cabinets are ordered really early in the building process and naturally the cabinet maker was not aware. He is aware now but there is a delay because the island was ordered later. This can delay closing–so be prepared.

Let’s say you wrote a contract and made no changes. What could go wrong? To begin, even subcontractors are human and make mistakes. One time we had a builder “forget” there was an open rail upstairs looking over the family room. Seriously, it happens. It was in the plans but somehow, someone framed for a wall. Again, no big deal. It can be fixed–but it could delay things depending on when it was noticed.

Why are there delays? Hmmm–so many reasons. Number one is weather. The weather can hold things up in the beginning and at the end. Once a house is dried in, most of the work is inside so the weather won’t cause delays. Another delay, especially today, is shortage of subs. Subs are working around the clock and there is more business than they can really handle so, you may experience delays due to subcontractors being too busy. Shortage on building materials. You might think this is a joke but there was a time when there was a major shortage on sheetrock. It was taking months to get sheetrock delivered. Who would have thought. Then of course we have the utilities being connected. Power will not come out if they “think” it is going to rain (in some areas). The utilities also work in stages. First the locating crew comes out to “mark” the location. Then someone comes out to dig and then the crew comes out to connect.

When building new, be prepared for any delays. Always have a back up plan in case you do not close on time.

When visiting the site, keep in mind you cannot talk to the subs nor keep them from doing their work. This is usually written in the contract. You may think they are not working on your house because the last couple days you came by no one was there. Your house could be waiting for an inspection. There are a lot of inspections during the building process and most often once a builder gets to the point of an inspection, nothing can happen until the house is passed. If the inspector fails, the builder must complete what the inspector failed and call for another inspection. It’s ok, but keep that in mind.

Though the on-site agents usually don’t mind the buyer bringing in a “check list” of things they think are wrong in the house, most builders will through that list away. Let the builder build the house. I say that and one time I had a builder build the wrong house. He was glad someone brought it to his attention at framing. He had to tear it down and build the right house. That cost him–and it also caused a delay in closing.

I know there are many more things that can go wrong and cause delays and headaches but, being prepared makes things go a little smoother. If you have any questions feel free to call me or Diana


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