Home Improvement Articles

4 Questions to Answer Before Interviewing a Homebuilder
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

More people are constructing new homes! One in three millennials under the age of 35 owned a home by the end of 2018. Have you reached a point in your life when you're finally ready to build the home of your dreams! Here's your chance. Before you hire a contractor and get building, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. We've compiled this helpful checklist of questions you should answer before interviewing a homebuilder.

1. Location, Location, Location

33% of homebuyers in 2018 were first-time homebuyers. If this is your first time buying a home, this construction checklist will help keep you on the right track. Otherwise, you might miss a few essential steps that could leave you with buyer's remorse. The first thing to keep in mind when building a new home is to consider the location. Once you build your home, you're going to spend a lot of time in that area. As you explore different locations, consider:
  • The neighborhood
  • Shopping options
  • Entertainment
  • The distance to work or school
  • The distance to friends or family members
What if you have an emergency and need someone to watch the kids? What about your daily commute? How much gas will you spend on the drive? Make sure there's a grocery store nearby. If you travel a lot, make sure you're not too far away from an airport. Try composing a list of all the facilities you need nearby. When looking for an area or neighborhood, choose a location that fits your lifestyle. Are you comfortable calling this area home? You'll want to consider the traffic, too. Try to visit the area at three different days and times. How bad is rush hour on a Friday? Is the area crowded on Sunday mornings because there's a church nearby? Are you slow close to an elementary school that you get stuck driving among parents in the mornings and afternoons? Keep these factors in mind when you choose a location. Don't forget to consider the proximity to medical facilities and other amenities nearby, too. All these factors can influence what your property taxes might look like.

2. The Wish-list: Design and Special Features

Have fun selecting the design and features when building your home. You get to choose the:
  1. Size of your home
  2. Number of bedrooms
  3. Number of baths
  4. Additional rooms (study, recreation room)
Consider the rooflines, style, architecture, and custom features as well. Head online and gather inspiration from sketches, social media posts, and builder plans. You'll want to be ready to share these pieces of inspiration when you begin interviewing builders.

3. Decorative Selections

Sometimes, decorative selections are the most overwhelming part of the entire process so its important to start gathering ideas early to share with your builder and designer. This will make it easier to narrow narrow down your options sooner rather than later once you iron out the floor plan with your builder or architect. Remember, you're going to live with these decisions for a long time. Speak with a decorator about your preferences and desires and look for recommendations. Make sure you're comfortable with your choices. Your decorative selections will make the home yours. These decorative selections can add to your resale value in the future, too.

4. Your Target Budget

You might want to consider your price range, wish list, decorations, the location you want to live in at the same time. One can alter the other. Take a look at your budget. Try to create a price range for yourself and stick to it. There's a lot involved in this decision. For example, are you selling your existing home in order to buy? What size home will fit your needs and your budget? What are home values like within the area you're considering? How long do you plan to live in the home you are about to build. What family changes may take place during your time here? Are you planning to have children soon? Will an older child be graduating soon and heading off to Trade School, or College? How will that impact your use of the space and the time you have to recoup your investment both financially, and through intangible enjoyment? Consider speaking with a real estate professional or loan officer. They can help you determine the options available that best fit your price range.
The old ballpark in the late 1990's was $150 per square foot was the average cost of construction for a starter home. In today's market, in southern Chester County, we are finding that our client's wish-lists are coming with a $225 to $250 per square foot price tag, and in many cases, that does not include the purchase price of the land.
While some clients are focused on building the most square footage, for the lowest cost possible, some clients ask a different set of questions.
  • If we were willing to reduce the footprint, how AMAZING could we make our Dream House, if we were willing to spend $350, $400, $500 per square foot?
  • What trim options, lighting packages, and custom wall finishes could we include at that level?
  • Could we use tile with electric heat outside of the kitchen and bath spaces, and perhaps some ledge stone on various walls?
  • How much shiplap is too much shiplap?
  • What upgrades have you always wanted to put in a showcase house, but the budget hasn't allowed it yet?
  • We hate the idea of cheap plain ordinary drywall. What other options are available to us.
This information will also help you are finally ready to build the home of your dreams because you want to select a builder who is flexible enough to be able to hear, understand, and translate your vision for your dream home, onto a set of plans, and into a contract that you can both agree on.   You can read more about the Cost to Build a Home in Chester County, PA in this article and why we emphasize the important of a Target Budget here. 

Once you've answered the above four questions, you are ready to move on to the next steps of building your new home. You can read steps 5 through 10 in part 2 of this blog series here.