Buying a house under construction is a bit different from buying a resale home here in Pittsburg.
Follow these tips to make it a happy experience:
First, hire your own buyer’s agent. The contractor’s agent works for the contractor, not for you, and you do need some protection. Choose an agent who has worked with new construction and knows the right questions to ask and the conditions to include in your offer.
Your agent may be able to guide you to the most reputable builders in town, but you should still do your own research. Check online reviews, the state licensing board, and perhaps the Better Business Bureau. You want to know if there have been complaints or lawsuits filed. You can also ask the builder for referrals, then go talk with others who are living in homes he or she constructed.
Learn how to read the floorplan, and if possible, visit a model home built with the floorplan you’re considering. If that’s not possible, measure the rooms in the house you now occupy so you can look at sizes and have a better feel for what they mean. Consider the size of doorways, staircases, and hallways – will it be easy to move furniture in and out? If someone in your household needs to use a wheelchair, will they be able to get around?
Spend your money on things that can’t be changed – or can only be changed at great expense. Location comes first. The square footage comes next. You can change carpets or counter-tops or purchase a top-of-the-line refrigerator at some later date, but the house is where it is, and adding more rooms is expensive.
Check out the standard equipment offered by the builder. It might be in your best interests to get an upgrade on some items, such as the heating and air conditioning system, simply because these items are difficult to replace once the house is built.
Get both an inspection and a warranty. Just because the house is new doesn’t mean everything was done correctly. In fact, if you’re buying just as the walls go up, hire an inspector who will visit the house at various stages of construction. Discuss warranties with your agent and be sure you get the best that the builder will offer.
Finally, be prepared to answer quickly when the builder asks about paint colors, countertops, and floor coverings. He or she might not ask until its time to place the order, so think it through ahead of time.