Hidden Pitfalls of New-Construction Homes

What to consider when buying a newly built house

By Jan Soults Walker

Purchasing a brand-new house is an alluring proposition, but there are factors to consider when planning and budgeting for a new-construction home. Take these insightful tips from a real estate broker to help you make the most of this home-buying experience.

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Doreen Le May Madden
There's nothing like buying and moving into a newly built home, but always go in with your eyes wide open and your budget funded for the things you'll need. "While purchasing a new home is exciting," says real estate broker Ginger Bonneau with @properties in Chicago, "don't get swept away by your enthusiasm. Love your new home and leave a budget for the needs that will make your new home a dream come true."

Unexpected Expenses of Custom Homes

New-construction homes are often filled with modern niceties, but there are commonly overlooked items you should include in your new-home planning budget:

1. Window treatments
2. Landscaping
3. Closet and pantry organizers
4. Decking or backyard pavers
5. Dog run
6. Built-in desk or workstation in or near the kitchen

Hidden Pitfalls of New-Construction Homes

If you're purchasing a spec house (rather than one that was custom-designed and built just for you), ask yourself these questions to avoid design pitfalls:
  • Is there ample counter space in the kitchen and bathrooms?
  • What about storage? Is there a place for everything?
  • Are electrical outlets conveniently located for adding task and accent lighting? 
  • Are the aisles in the kitchen and bathroom kitchen wide enough and functional? Are door swings on cabinet doors and passage doors allowed enough room? 
  • Does the house seem quiet and comfortable? Check that there is adequate insulation so noise and energy don't transfer. Pay particular attention to noise levels if you are considering a townhome or condominium with a shared wall.
  • Is the home's lighting sufficient? Note available overall, task, and accent lighting. Will you need to purchase and install additional fixtures?
  • How is the home's ventilation? With windows open, do breezes flow nicely through the house? (This will save on energy costs and keep you comfortable.) Also, is there a quality vent above the kitchen range? Are there vents in every bathroom?
If you can't answer all of these questions right away, don't fret. "Sometimes you have to live in a space for a while to determine how rooms flow and how you use the spaces," Bonneau says. "So remember, there is no rush and no timeline. See how natural light comes into your home. Watch for sightlines and think about where you would like to see a photo or painting and wait a while to hang your artwork. Take your time. Add your own style and remember—perfection is boring, so personalize it and make yourself happy! This is your new home!"

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