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Considering a Brand-New Home

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Getting the Home You Want

Don't Go There

Don't assume just because a builder has a lot of business that he's the person you should choose for your new home construction. Overly busy builders may be seriously behind schedule or may hire less-than-qualified workers to try to keep up with their business.

If you've decided to have a new home built, there are some guidelines you should keep in mind in order to assure that your experience is a positive one.

  • Get a clear understanding of your wants and needs. Write down exactly what features you want in your new home. If you love to cook, for instance, you might want special features in your kitchen. Or if that arthritic knee is getting worse, you may want to build a one-story home.

  • Find a good, reputable builder. You can start by checking the real estate section of your Sunday paper to get an idea of who's building what types of homes in your area. Contact your local Home Builder's Association for referrals to reputable builders. Or your local Chamber of Commerce may be able to recommend a builder in your area.

  • Check out the work of several reputable builders. Visit some homes under construction and examine the quality of the work. If you're not knowledgeable about construction quality, take someone with you who is. Take notice of the quality of the materials used. And, talk to the people living in the homes the builder you're considering have built. Builders should be willing to give you the names of some customers. If they're not, a warning flag should go up. Ask customers whether they're satisfied with their new homes, and find out if the work was completed on time. Ask if they would buy another home from the same builder.

  • Talk to your builder. Once you've chosen a builder, sit down and talk with him about exactly what you want in your home. He should be willing to alter existing plans to give you what you want.

  • Pay close attention to the builder's warranty and service-after-the-sale provisions. It may be tedious reading, but be sure to carefully read the terms of the warranty, and know exactly what kind of service the builder provides once you've move in. New construction typically requires some “adjustments,” so be sure your builder is willing to come back until everything is to your satisfaction.

Remember that if you decide to buy brand-new and have a home built, you're in charge. Overseeing the construction of your new home will require your time and attention. Keeping a close eye on what's going on, however, can save you lots of grief and future problems.

If you're too busy to keep a close watch on what's going on while your home is being built, you might consider hiring a home inspector who will watch for you. Check your phone book for some names, or approach someone you know who has good knowledge of the building industry or who is familiar with new home construction.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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