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 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.
A general contractor has something you don’t: connections and relationships with subcontractors who want to do exceptional work for them because they know that’s how they stay in business. You probably won’t get the same quality from a subcontractor you hire yourself because they know they probably won’t ever work for you again. Not to mention the scammers and rogue tradesmen who will gladly take your money and split.
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:
- Read and understand the contract, and have a lawyer review it if necessary.
- Ask for copies of the builder’s insurance policy to ensure that you are not held responsible for medical bills of injured workers.
- Carefully consider what you want before getting started so you don’t have costly changes to the plans.
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. Make sure your budget is as detailed as possible. It may help to find out other people’s build costs to use as a guide for your project.
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 out 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.
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
When designing your own home you should take your lifestyle and habits into consideration: How long do you plan to stay in this home? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? Think ahead, long term, to where you will be and what you will need from your home.
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. Forgetting to Plan for Lighting Needs
Light fixtures, electrical outlets and windows should be plentiful. Windows should be present in every room and as large as possible. Natural light, when possible, should be the main source of light.
11. 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.
12. Thinking You Don’t Need a Home Inspection
Your house was just built, so everything is perfect, right? And the city inspector passed the house, so it must be fine, right? Not so fast. Defects are common in newly built homes. It doesn’t necessarily mean your builder was bad, but with the number of subcontractors who worked on your house, it’s likely something was installed wrong, missed or forgotten.
Any problems are covered under your builder’s warranty, but if you don’t have a home inspection done, you may not notice certain problems, such as negative grading, missing caulk, or improper or missing flashing. These are issues the city inspector didn’t look for; he/she checked the house to ensure it matches the plans and that the structure and major systems are up to code. A professional home inspector, however, is trained to look for additional problems and issues and can help reveal defects so you can have your builder fix them. Don’t skip the home inspection just because the house is newly built.
National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections offer builder’s warranty home inspections on new construction. To find an inspector in your area, visit the following links:
Tagged: builder's defects, building a house, building a new home, home construction, home inspection, mistakes when building a house, real estate, tips for building a house
Sources: Angie’s List, Freshome.com, StyleAtHome.com