Mistakes to Avoid When Building a House

New home being built in a residential area.

New home being built in a residential area.

So, you’re ready to build your dream home? It might surprise you to know that all too often home buyers make critical mistakes during the home-building process. We’ve rounded up the top 10 mistakes people make when building a home, so you will surely want to avoid these pitfalls.

1. Acting as Your Own General Contractor
A general contractor will gather bids; work with any subcontractors; and make sure that the work on your house is done correctly, within budget and on schedule. You may think it sounds like a great idea to save money and do all of that yourself, but it could end up costing you more money in the long run.

2. Taking a Laid-back Approach
This dream home is going to be one of the biggest investments of your life. Don’t assume things will take care of themselves.

3. Cutting Corners
A builder who can build your dream home $30,000 cheaper and two months faster than any of the others likely indicates a significant difference in the quality of materials. In addition, a builder may bid low to win your business and then tack on expenses later.

Even if you are working within a tight budget don’t cut corners on design and materials, especially those for bricks, roof tiles and windows. Also, if a job requires 20 hours, don’t try to convince the tradesman to do it in less time. Quality workmanship comes at a price.

4. Choosing a Poor Location
When scoping out the land for your dream house, think about the following:

Busy streets and stores are not quiet or family-friendly.
Consider resale value before settling on a lot because it’s the cheapest around.
Consider the lot’s slope, water table and terrain, which affect how easy it is to build a home on the land.

5. Building a House That Doesn’t Fit the Neighborhood
Before designing your home, take a good look at the other houses in the neighborhood. Make sure the size of your home is similar to others in the area. The smallest or largest home in a neighborhood is often the most difficult to sell. Furthermore, the style and architecture of your home should be in line with the rest of the neighborhood. A stucco home is going to stick out like a sore thumb in a neighborhood full of Victorian-style homes.

6. Setting a Budget Without a Buffer
A budget is crucial when building a home, but make sure to include an additional amount that takes into consideration unforeseen circumstances and overages. Even with the best-intentioned bid, incidentals will likely arise.

7. Working With the Wrong People
When hiring a builder, take the time to find someone who is right for you. Interview a few builders, talk to their previous clients, check out their websites, check review sites like Angie’s List, ask to see examples of other houses they’ve built (both photos and in person). Make sure the builder you choose is one you feel a connection with and who can transform your ideas into reality for your dream home.

Professional architects have a formal education, sit exams and do years of apprenticeships to become licensed. If you are building a custom home and don’t hire an experienced and qualified architect, you may find that the plans don’t turn out the way you wanted.

8. Paying in Advance
Paying builders in advance is another common mistake. If a builder does not trust you enough to start work without cash up-front, you should not trust them either. Set up terms and pay when different stages of the work are completed.

9. Not Designing the Home to Fit Your Needs
Make sure your planning sessions with your architect produce a plan that is exactly what you want and need in terms of space and layout for your new home. Do not start the build unless you are completely sure of what is laid out on paper. Any changes made after the design plans are finalized can throw off the whole project and trigger a domino effect of problems and costs. Make sure to plan the size and placement of closets smartly. And, although a playroom, game room, gym or multipurpose room sounds enticing, make sure it’s a room you will use or it will likely become a dumping ground.

10. Not Considering the Placement of Rooms

  • The laundry room, or washer and dryer, should be relatively close to the bedrooms.
  • Bedrooms need to be as far away from noise and traffic as possible. The master bedroom should be away from the central living areas.
  • The kitchen is more convenient near a garage or back entrance.
  • The garage should lead to the main level, near a mud room or the kitchen.

Sources: Angie’s List, Freshome.com

Is the Roof on Your New Home Installed Properly?

By Wes Grant, NPI Franchise Owner, Indian Trail, North Carolina

Roof Shingles_shutterstock_154579022Many buyers and Realtors often don’t see the need to have a newly constructed home inspected, or they prefer to wait until the 11th month after purchase to get what is known in the industry as a builder’s warranty inspection. A builder’s warranty inspection is a full home inspection to find any builder defects in a house prior to the expiration of the builder’s one-year warranty. (Some builders may offer a two-year warranty). My concern with waiting until after purchasing the home to have your inspection is that you may experience problems that could easily have been avoided and corrected without any disruption to your daily life if they had been corrected before you moved into the house.

Some of the problems I find in newly built homes are roof installation issues. Now, I know what some of you are thinking — surely the builder is working with qualified roofers, so there should never be any problems with the roof, right? Unfortunately, WRONG! I am sure that most reputable builders assume they are hiring qualified professionals, but sometimes they simply are not and the roofing contractor they use may have a lot of “rookies” working in their company. Based upon my observations, many of these rookies have not received enough training.

Recently, I was hired to perform a new-construction home inspection. During my exterior inspection, and as I walked around to the rear of the home, I immediately noted that the roof looked very strange and irregular. The architectural shingles on the rear part of the roof had been installed with the thick tab areas of the shingles all in alignment. Upon closer inspection, however, I could see that the shingles were not installed with the correct amount of offset or stagger.

Stagger is a term many roofing contractors use for the shingle offset, also known as the spacing between butt joints of adjacent shingles. Some contractors call it “shingle offset” or “edge-to-edge spacing.” It does not matter what you call it, maintaining proper shingle stagger is important to prevent roof leaks and to conform to the shingle manufacturers’ specifications, thereby keeping the warranty intact.

If the shingle stagger is too small — less than 4 inches — water can travel into the shingle butt edge to the butt edge joint of the shingle below (less than 4 inches away) and leak. Leaking roofs can cause serious moisture issues, including rot and mold. If not identified and corrected quickly, a leaky roof can cause thousands of dollars in damage. A qualified home inspector would likely identify this problem during an 11th month builder’s warranty inspection, but by that time, you may have a lot more damage. For example, if you stored personal items in the attic, irreplaceable items such as pictures and photo albums may be damaged. The builder would be responsible for fixing the damaged roof and areas of the attic, but you can’t replace some things. There is also the hassle that comes with repair work going on while your family is living their daily lives. Having the home inspection at time of purchase will save you future hassles.

Needless to say, the buyer and Realtor for the new home I recently inspected were very happy that I caught this issue, potentially saving the client thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches. The sad thing is that in this particular new neighborhood, multiple houses had the exact same issues with the shingles, and my guess is that many of these houses will be purchased without home inspections. Some of those owners may unfortunately be the one on the hook for repairs.

So, please, do yourself a favor: Get a home inspection prior to purchasing any home. I have seen this type of roofing issue show up not just on both brand-new houses and existing houses that have had the roofs replaced.


Grant PhotoWes Grant
is a professional National Property Inspections home inspector in Indian Trail and the surrounding Union County area in North Carolina. If you live in the area, call 704.628.6601 to schedule your home inspection with Wes.

NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home, from roof to foundation.

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