1. First, choose a neighbourhood
There are many considerations when choosing your neighbourhood. First, are the homes in the area generally in your price range? Is the neighbourhood reasonably close to not only your place of employment, but the thing you like to do like shopping, your hobbies (the gym, sports activities etc.) and what about schools? As you know, location is extremely important so choose wisely.
2. Do some builder research
Check out the reputation of the builders that build in the area. Is it as shiny as their show homes? Check out the BBB, talk with some people in the area and view some online. Also keep in mind that nothing is “free”. A builder might say granite counter tops or hardwood are standard, but the cost is built into the price.
3. Be aware of the “options”
Granite, hardwood, ceramic tile, fireplaces all add to the cost. The last thing you want to do is break the bank. Having said that, if most homes in the neighbourhood have these upgrades it may not be wise to omit them. Just don’t go overboard. Your REALTOR® will be able to add some pointers in this area.
4. Stay involved
Stay in touch with the builder so you are on top of any issues that may arise. A weekly visit with the builder’s rep to check on the progress is a good idea. So is a visit to your future home while it is being built. I recommend taking lots and lots of pictures of the construction progress. Keep in mind however to follow all safety rules and stay out of the way of the construction workers. They are following the instructions of the builder so take any issues up with the rep, not the crew.
5. If possible, have little flexibility on the possession date
It is a good idea to have an overlap in the timing of possession. It is possible that your new home could be delayed and you could be homeless for a time if you don’t allow for some flexibility for moving in.
6. Do a pre-possession walkthrough
Most builders will do a walk through with the Buyers a week or so before possession to look for any deficiencies and shortfalls that can be taken care of before you move in.
7. Be prepared for closing
Have all your paperwork and “cash to close” ready for the visit to the lawyer to sign all of the documents. Have you home insurance in place and the utilities ready to be turned on in your name on possession day.
8. Explore your warranty options
Builders on Alberta must supply a New Home Warranty. Your new home’s warranty will cover 1 year for labour and materials, 2 years for delivery and distribution systems, 5 years for building envelope protection, and 10 years for major structural components. There may be options to increase those coverages. More information can be found at http://www.homewarranty.alberta.ca/.
9. Do a final walk through with your Builder
On the day of possession, do a final walk through with your Builder. Make notes of any deficiencies that remain and be sure to have the Builder show you the emergency shut offs, and how everything works.
10. Make an emergency evacuation plan
Design an evacuation plan designate a meeting place outside the home should an emergency occur. This is all new to everyone, so it is better to be prepared so everyone knows what to do in the unlikely event that something really bad happens.
Oh, one more thing. Enjoy the ride. Building a home can be stressful but it can also be fun. There are at least a million decisions to make so don’t let it overwhelm you. Take it one step at a time and have some fun with it!