“No one told me that”: 5 ways to stay informed while your new home is built

So you’ve signed the agreement of purchase and sale for your brand new townhouse or single family home. You’re excited. And a little nervous. What’s next? And how do you make sure nothing gets forgotten? Here are our top five tips for staying in the communication loop as your new home is being built.

#1 Read your agreement of purchase and sale carefully

Yes, it’s boring legalese—but don’t just skip to the “included features” page. By reading the agreement of purchase and sale, you can learn about:

  • project milestones
  • the kind of services (internet, phone) that will be available in your area
  • the kind of access you can have to your home as it’s being built
  • when you can make changes to landscaping that might affect grading (such as adding garden beds and fencing)
  • when your security deposit will be refunded. (Hint: it’s not when you move in. Or when the sod is laid. It’s when the municipality takes over the subdivision from your builder, which can be one to two years after move-in day.)

Final tip: If you’re having trouble understanding your agreement, don’t feel bad. Ask your lawyer to explain it to you—that’s what he or she is there for.

#2 Get to know your customer care person

Most builders have a person who is dedicated to answering your questions and keeping you informed during the phases of construction as well as after you’ve moved in. This is your first point of contact and the person you’ll want to develop a really good relationship with. Don’t be shy (at DiCenzo Homes we like to say there’s no such thing as a stupid question) but keep your communication constructive.

Final tip: Your customer care rep may not be able to answer every question right away, but he or she should get back to you after quickly consulting with the appropriate person.

#3 Overshare with your décor consultant

Most new home buyers focus on decisions like the colour of their hardwood, tile and paint, but the most important decisions actually happen well before that stage in the process. At one of your very first appointments, you’ll be sitting down with your house plans and looking at the layout of the rooms and making sure you’ve captured everything on your wish list. Write down your ideas and questions and bring in photos from Houzz or clipped from magazines.

Things to consider:

* Do you plan to build a bathroom in the basement someday? (Your builder can rough-in the plumbing now at a fraction of the cost of having a contractor do it for you three years down the road.)

* Do you want a microwave over your range?

* Where do you want your kitchen lighting? How many lights?

* Do you want to hang chandeliers?

* What will each room be used for? How does that impact lighting, electrical outlets and other features you may want once you move in?

Final tip: We can’t emphasize the importance of planning at this early stage. Your décor consultant can help you make the tough choices to help you stay within your budget.

#4 Put it in writing (and, even better, include a photo)

It can be helpful to send your questions, ideas and concerns to your décor consultant or customer care rep by email before you have your preconstruction design meeting. That way there’s a record of your question or request.

Final tip: A picture really is worth a thousand words. Send a photo along to help you describe what you’re looking for, but be sure to point out what you like or don’t like about the image so everyone is on the same page.

#5 Schedule your walk-through

Most builders will allow home buyers to schedule a free walk-through of their home that’s separate from the mandatory pre-delivery inspection. It’s a chance to meet your site superintendent, confirm your plans match what’s being built and ask questions. We recommend arranging for your walk-through after the framing and mechanical is complete but before the drywall is up—that way, minor changes or issues that need to be resolved can be taken care of more easily.

Good to know: Your builder can move a plug a short distance or reinforce a wall so you can attach a chin-up bar or wall-mount a TV, but we can’t make room for the French door fridge you just fell in love with or add a new bank of pot lights.

Final tip: Planning ahead is key to building a new home without expensive changes or disappointment. (That’s why we can’t emphasize tip #3 enough.)

So there you have it—five ways to stay in the communication loop as your new home is being built. Read your agreement, build strong relationships, ask questions, think carefully about your vision for each room and take advantage of opportunities to walk through your home-to-be and you’ll feel informed and supported through every step of the home building process.


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