Home buyers have been conditioned to think that when you purchase something new nothing will be wrong with it, but that is not always the case when it comes to brand new, never-live-in homes. Even newly constructed houses can be poorly made, which may result in you buying a lemon-scented money pit if you are not careful. Here are three tips to help you avoid landing in that predicament.
Have the Home Inspected
Having a home inspected for defects and problems is pretty standard operating procedure. Because of the aforementioned misconception that new equals flawless, many homebuyers skip this basic step and live to regret it. For instance, a pair of buyers purchased a home that had just been renovated without having it inspected beforehand. Unfortunately, an inspector who was called in after the sale to look at the house found it needed $350,000 in repairs. The renovation basically just covered up all the flaws.
Some contractors are very good at cutting corners and hiding the evidence, and it often takes someone who knows what to look for to uncover the issues. Even though you may be confident the contractor who built your home did a good job, spend the $200 to $400 to have it inspected anyway. Consider the fee an investment in your peace of mind. If the inspector does uncover issues, be sure to bring these up with the builder or contractor and get them fixed prior to closing on the home.
Get a Punch List
If you're purchasing a home that was just recently completed, ask for a list of items that need to be repaired. This is called a punch list, and typically it lists problems the builder encountered during his or her inspection of the home that need to be repaired or completed. For instance, a window that's missing a few nails will be placed on the punch list for the builder or one of his or her employees to fix.
It's important that you do not close on the home before all of the items on the punch list have been addressed, because doing so will remove the builder's motivation to follow through and ensure work on the home has been finished. The builder can't move onto his or her next job until your home is complete, so delaying closing until all the items on the punch list are done ensures the builder will make the necessary repairs.
Add a Repair Clause to the Sales Contract
A third thing you should do is have your attorney add a clause to your contract that states the builder will repair any issues that crop up after you have closed on the home. A punch list will only contain things that have been identified by the builder or contractor during inspection walkthroughs, but any number of problems can occur after closing that won't pop up until you actually started living in the home and using the appliances, plumbing, etc.
Unfortunately, these types of unidentified issues may not be covered by an insurance policy or warranty. Therefore, you should add this requirement to your sales contract. Be prepared for push back from the builder or contractor. Most don't like these types of clauses because it means more work for little to no money for them. At minimum, negotiate a length of time this clause will be valid for (e.g. a year after closing) to help alleviate some of the person's concerns.
For more information about buying a new home or help locating the perfect home for you in your preferred area, contact a real estate agent for assistance.