New homes, like new cars, often have bugs that must be worked out. Homes are assembled by people – and people make mistakes. There will be problems in practically every new home.
First of all, new homes, (unless you pay a premium for environmentally friendly materials), are full of out-gassing materials such as new plastic pipe, new linoleum, new carpet, glues, paint etc. Some people are very sensitive to these environmental toxins (volatile organic compounds, etc.), while some people could not care less. In either case, these toxins are not good for your family’s health.
In a survey of homeowners who had bought new in the past five years, it was found that more than half had experienced problems.
A quarter of problems related to boiler issues, while 16% of people experienced difficulties with their utilities, and 12% were faced with structural problems.
Outlets and switches may not work, the heating and air conditioning system could need adjustment, the roof might leak, settling may occur, and any number of dozens of other unpleasant things could occur.
Some aspects of plumbing or electric may not be up to code, but the mistakes may not rear their ugly head for years or decades.
An area of major concern to many new homeowners is landscaping. If your home includes a landscaping package, as most do, you will be responsible for watering, fertilizing, and nurturing your lawn until it’s established. That could take a year or more.
Many of the problems with new homes relate to drainage issues. Most homeowners and some builders don’t understand proper drainage. When water collects in a large surface area or flows a great distance, it has the potential to create significant problems. Make certain you understand how a property drains before you buy.
Unfortunately, with a new build, it’s not until you’ve already bought and are in the home that you will discover if the drainage has been done properly.
Significant amounts of water coming from other lots should be diverted into drainage swales, well away from the house.
Water should not be allowed to pond anywhere. All drainage across the lot, except as contained in drainage swales, should be gentle enough to allow grass to grow.
Depending on where we are in the housing market cycle, you may be able to get an existing home for fewer dollars per square foot than a new build.
The money you’ll save on a previously owned house could be enough for you to simulate the new home feel, by using the money you save for buying new floors and appliances if needed.
Another common problem with new builds is a delay in the completion or being hit with unexpected costs. The builder may gouge you to french tuck the stair carpets, or to put a simple piece of wood in a ceiling so it’ll be strong enough for a chandelier or ceiling fan.
Depending on your neighbourhood, city, province/state, and country, you may be billed by the builder or by local government to pay for your share of utility installation in your new neighbourhood:
– water services
– electricity services
– road maintenance or creation
Make sure you get this information out of people early on, so that you are not stuck with a few thousand in unexpected costs on closing date.
New home buyers should also keep a close eye on the anticipated completion date.
A mortgage offer is typically only valid for six months and the timetable to complete can drift.
This means that if you arrange your finance early, you could lose your mortgage offer if the completion date drags on.
SPACE IN THE HOME
Space is an issue because new homes are often deceptively small.
Plenty of buyers make a commitment to buy before the property is finished, and often rely on the developer’s show home to get an idea of what they’re signing up for. However, developers will use crafty tricks to make you think there is more space than there is. Furniture will often be minimal and scaled down to give an illusion of more space.
Flattering lighting, wall mirrors and glass-topped furniture can all add to the feeling that you’re buying a much bigger home than you are.
And don’t just look inside the model home, take a look at the property plans and map out an area in one of your friends’ back yards that represents the size of yard you’d have if you bought the new home. Is it big enough for you and any children and pets? (Actually a big problem for pre-owned houses as well, in many cities and neighbourhoods).
ABILITY TO SELL
When you move in, you are probably not thinking ahead to selling your brand new home. But things happen in life, and there is the chance you won’t be living out your retirement years there.
New homes are often built in vast developments and as long as the builder is still building, few buyers will look at the pre-owned houses. Sellers in those areas may be effectively trapped until the builders finish, and that can take years.