If you’re reading this, congratulations. You’re thinking outside the box. You decided after many a frustrated Google search that none of the houses for sale currently on the market really floated your boat. Then you thought, “Why am I buying a new home when I can have one built to my specifications?”
Why indeed. If it’s within your budget, you should never settle for someone else’s old place, or a cookie cutter Levittown knock-off. Modern home builders will work with you to optimize your home design and tailor the experience to your needs. This being said, not all home builders are created equal. Whether you’re looking at Taylor Morrison homes, the Lennar Corporation, or some other big name, there are certain questions that will help you pinpoint what to look for in a home builder:
1. Are they within your price range?
First thing’s first: Can you afford it? Before you start drooling over those Taylor Morrison homes in all their spacious, wall-eschewing glory, it’s best to meet with a mortgage consultant. They’ll be able to walk you through your finances and give you a good idea of what you can afford long term. This will arm you with the information you need to price out building plans that are over budget.
2. Do they build where you want to live?
Obviously to answer this question, you have to know generally where that is. We don’t know about you, but the states with the least amount of taxes seem like good places to start. States like Florida, Alaska, Nevada, Texas, and Washington don’t have state income taxes, and Florida even offers special incentives for “homesteaders” who choose to make Florida their primary place of residence. These sorts of tax breaks will seem extremely drastic and welcome if you originally hail from a place like New York, which has comparatively high tax rates.
Taxes aren’t everything. You also want to do research on the region where you’re looking to build. Are there adequate goods and services? Natural beauty? Is the crime rate under control? Sinking thousands of dollars into a custom outfit like Taylor Morrison homes or Shea Homes doesn’t mean a thing if your property value will plummet the minute you lay the foundation.
3. Do their design trends meet your needs?
You might have heard that these new “tiny homes” are all the rage with the hand-to-mouth Millennial generation. This is a perfect example of a niche custom home market that is meeting a vocalized, specialized need. We are willing to bet that you’re a bit less paycheck-to-paycheck than your grand kids. However this doesn’t mean you don’t need or want a customized design. Before you narrow down your list of ideal home builders, make a list of features you’d like your home to have. Skylights? Handicap-friendly staircases? A finished basement? Put everything down no matter how outrageous, then see who can deliver.
4. Do you understand the contract and the warranty?
One of the reasons the housing bubble popped in 2008 was that people had signed onto mortgages they didn’t understand. Before going with a home builder, make sure you or your legal representative understand every line of the building contract. Even more importantly, compare each company’s warranties for inclusiveness. Any seasoned home owner will tell you that one of the dark sides to home ownership is constantly having to maintain the place yourself. A good warranty will give you a life line and ensure professionals are on hand to fix what doesn’t work.
We guess what we’re saying is, in order to hire a good home architect, you need to be a dream architect, and know exactly what you want.