I have had the situation arise on many a soccer field or at a dinner party when I overhear one person telling another person, “I am building a house!” I try so hard to bite the old tongue but eventually the wisenheimer in me comes out and I very politely say “Oh I didn’t realize your husband was a builder.”
Of course, I already know that he is not and that what she really means to say is that they are buying a new construction home. Yes, there is a big difference!! HUGE!
Having the opportunity to buy a new construction home is fun. It gives you the chance to choose your cabinets, flooring, lighting and counters etc… if they are not already installed but in most cases (unless it is a custom home) that is about all the input that you have in the building process. The builder builds the home and you are buying the end result, presumably. Being that it is new, you will have the above mentioned options but you will have some limitations, as well. Some of these are important to note and here are a few things to remember.
- Although you are excited about watching the progress of the home go through its many stages you cannot walk through the property on demand or at 2 in the morning with your buddy Jim to show him the kitchen layout. This house does not actually belong to you yet and this is not only trespassing, but also a little thing known as breaking and entering. Yes, I have seen this happen, in Natick as a matter of fact. The potential buyer broke through a window to “see what was going on.” Unfortunately she was seen by a neighbor who immediately placed a call to the owner/builder. All you have to do is make an appointment with your buyer agent and you are welcome at almost any time.
- It is important to remember that subcontractors working on the home actually work for the builder directly and not for you. You should not be ordering them around or asking them to make any changes without talking to the builder. Building permits are specific as to what work is being done and in some cases alterations can cause delays and permitting problems which can ultimately affect your closing. Again speak with your buyer agent to communicate the changes you may want with the builder to see if that request is possible. They want you to be happy.
- Home inspections are still a factor in a new home purchase; however, the timing of this is sometimes different from a traditional sale. It would be prudent to wait until the house is almost complete as an inspector will have a difficult time inspecting what is not there. Remember that through the entire process the town will have their own professional inspectors watching and approving each step of the process. In the end, a final inspection will be done by the building inspector and the town will issue you a certificate of occupancy. Your home inspector will then be able to walk through the home with you and explain its systems etc but will not supersede the building inspector in any way.
- Last but not least, remember that this is a construction site and the builder will want to be sure that safety comes first. Yes, they have insurance, but it is a liability so please watch children closely as there can be items and tools there than can be dangerous to little ones.
So the next time you overhear someone saying, “My husband and I are building a house!” You will know what they really mean, and that’s a fact Jack!