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Buying a New Build Home

Some people prefer to buy a brand new house versus a resale or previously lived-in house. This means buying from a builder, which can be very rewarding. There are a lot of pluses, but there are some drawbacks.
When you buy from a builder, you get to pick the options for your home. You can select your new home from a price range and floor plan. A buyer can often get upgrades at attractive pricing and have the basement finished before they move in. Everything is new, with warranties - the appliances, the furnace the air conditioner. No worries about the roof shingles for 15 years.
It all sounds wonderful, and it can be. It can also be quite disastrous and stressful. There are stories, too numerous to count, of homeowners being delayed days, weeks and months in taking occupancy of their homes, having to impose on friends or live in hotels. Stories of homeowners being forced into uncompleted houses. Stories of shoddy workmanship that couldn't get fixed.
Buying from a builder can be rewarding, but the buyer needs to be careful. There are things you can do to make the process easier.

Do your homework first
Check out the builder carefully before signing anything. The Better Business Bureau builder's performance and customer satisfaction. Be sure that you understand the reputation and reliability of the builder before you buy. You are gambling on this builder based on what you know. Our worksheet, Know Your Builder, can help.
Talk to the people who have already moved in, if possible. Once you are ready to sign a contract, have a lawyer review it carefully and let you know if there is anything in the contract you should be concerned about. If the contract is too biased in favour of the builder this is something to be concerned about. Get these clauses changed or be sure that you are willing to live with them if you don't.

Energy Efficiency in New Homes
When you buy a new home there are many things that can be done to increase its comfort and healthiness, and reduce energy costs that are not available in resale homes. A lot of these are automatic with builders but ask your new home builder about these energy-saving and environmental features.

  • R-2000 . An R-2000 certified home is 30 to 40% more energy-efficient than a conventionally built home and includes a number of "clean-air" features and materials with recycled content.
  • High-efficiency (90%+) furnaces . Consider a high-efficiency heat pump if you use electricity for space heating. Look into "heating zones". Install an automatic set-back thermostat if not included in the builder's standard package.
  • High-efficiency water heater . Also explore tankless "on-demand" water heaters and high-efficiency hybrid systems that combine hot water and space heating.
  • Extra insulation in the basement, above grade walls and in attic areas.
  • High-performance windows , with double or triple glazing, inert gas fill, insulating spaces and frames, low-E coating and low air leakage rating.
  • Placement of windows to gain the most passive solar heat during winter months. Roof overhangs and/or deciduous tree plantings will block out solar heating during the summer.
  • Energy-efficient lighting , including solar-powered (photovoltaic) lighting systems.
  • Appliances with an Energy Star® rating.
  • Heat or Energy Recovery Ventilator system (HRV or ERV) for whole-house ventilation.
  • Pre-finished building components , e.g. hardwood flooring. Also, other hard-surface flooring that is easy to clean and doesn't collect dust and dirt.
  • No- or low-off gassing adhesives, paints and finishes.
  • Materials with recycled content -insulation, sheathing, drywall, shingles, decking and much more.
  • Rainwater cistern for garden watering.
  • Ecoscaping , including native plants and wood-waste mulching,

New home builders are familiar with the latest technologies and products and can explain these to you. Also the it benefits and implications for the construction process, schedule and price.
Be sure to refer to Home Buying Step By Step and be sure to print out Buying a Home Check List and take it with you to all you home viewings.
One of the great advantages of buying a brand new home is a warranty. In British Columbia , Ontario and Quebec, builders MUST provide homebuyers with a third-party warranty. In the rest of Canada , the decision is left up to the individual builder. For homebuyers, the choice is easy-you want to buy your home from a professional builder with:

  1. a solid reputation,
  2. excellent after-sales service and
  3. third-party warranty.
What's covered? As a minimum, a new home warranty generally includes deposit insurance and protection against defects in work and materials as well as major structural defects. Additional coverage may include defects in your home's mechanical systems or building envelope. Some warranties include living expenses to offset the cost of temporary accommodations, moving and storage if you cannot occupy your home due to builder failure or warranty repairs. You may also be able to upgrade a "basic package" and get extended coverage.
Before you sign a contract with your builder. Know what you are buying. Ask the builder to explain the warranty before you make a final decision-what's covered and what's not. Also verify that the builder is registered with a warranty provider; you can contact the provider by telephone or check their web site.
Before you move in. As your home nears completion, your builder will schedule a walk-through of your home, also known as a pre-delivery inspection. Together, you and your builder will go through the home together to verify that it is built according to plan, with the features and inclusions specified in your agreement.
At the same time, you should take note of any imperfections and defects that require attention, down to the smallest detail-a sticking drawer, a missing towel rack, a scratch on the wall and so on. Discuss with your builder how and when these things will be dealt with.
During the walk-through, your builder will explain how to operate and service the mechanical systems, and how to take care of the many components in your home to ensure long-lasting performance. Ask questions as you go-it's important that you feel confident and knowledgeable about your new home from the outset.
What if I run into a problem with my new home? Keep in mind that "settling" is common during the first year and may result, for instance, in minor cracks or nail pops. If you have questions about your home, encounter any problems or need service, follow the process set out by your builder. In the event that your builder is not responsive to your needs, the warranty provider will ensure appropriate action, including mediation between you and your builder.
Expectations and responsibilities. Open communication is key to avoiding conflict between you and your builder. What are the builder's obligations and performance standards? What are the company's after-sales service standards and process? What are you responsible for once you move in? What do you need to know in order to avoid problems in your new home?
Don't hesitate to ask your builder for answers to these and other questions. Warranty providers also offer detailed consumer information, including home maintenance, online or you can request written publications. Many also have excellent advice on home buying, such as what to look for in a builder and the steps involved in homeownership.
New home warranty-another great feature of your brand new home.

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