New Home Construction
Purchasing a new home from a builder can be an exciting, rewarding and a daunting task. There are so many builders, neighbourhoods and options that the choices may become overwhelming. How do you narrow the search and make the right decision? Christine and her team will show you how.
Christine has extensive knowledge of the new home industry having worked many years with a number of the areas top builders. She knows first hand the joys and pitfalls of buying a new home. If you are a first time buyer or if you have been through the process before, Christine will help you reduce the research time and guide you through the entire process. In the end, you will find a house that you will be proud to call home.
Our goal is to find the right home, in the right neighborhood at the best price possible.
WHO PAYS FOR OUR SERVICES?
Most Builders (just like sellers in resale) pay the Realtors a co-broke fee for service. Co-broking is a service that was set up so that the Realtor community and the Builder community can work in tandem to help buyers find the best home. Christine has thorough knowledge of this segment of the building market, the builders and their products.
ARE THERE ANY ADVANTAGES IN NOT USING A REALTOR TO PURCHASE OUR NEW HOME?
No! Builders have a single price policy, so whether you use a Realtor or not the builder sells the home at the same price. This is because builders assume that a portion of all new homes sold in each community will be Realtor assisted. Why wouldn’t you want someone working for you?
It is imperative that the Realtor (Christine) introduces you to the builders ahead of time. Should you register (sign a guest card) at a builder’s site or even on their web site without the Realtor, the builder will not cooperate and therefore there will be no fee for service paid. It would then be your responsibility to pay for the Realtor Services as set out in the “Buyer Representation Agreement” that is signed by all of Christine’s clients.
All builders have their list of rules for co-broking. Only the agents know how they may vary. It is important that you are protected and understand the rules up front.
FINDING A BUILDER
Builders in the Ottawa area are reputable and diligent in their desire to build their homes to the highest standards. You want a builder who is highly skilled, experienced, offers the best designs and the best quality.
Most builders should be members of the local Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders’ Association (OCHBA) and therefore a member of the Canadian Home Builders Association. There is a code of ethics that governs members which calls for fair and honest dealings with both consumers and the people they do business with. Christine deals mainly with members of the OCHBA and can recommend these builders.
Still, concerns about the building industry exist. Too often we hear of horror stories from friends or acquaintances of a nightmare associated with building a new home. Almost all problems have arisen out of communication or contract problems. With careful research and evaluation of your builders, it is possible to avoid most problems. Good communication between you and your builder will make the entire process run smoother. Discuss your needs with key people, including Christine or a member of Christine’s team, and you will be better protected.
THE BUYING PROCESS
People who successfully emerge from the building and buying process are those who ask questions… lots of questions!
RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE BUILDER SALES REPRESENTATIVE
It is important that you trust this person and their advice. They know their product and they know their builder. They are there to help you. They will be your primary link during the entire building process which may last 4-12 months. However, they work for the builder and must follow the builders guidelines. Remember the Golden Rule: the only contract valid is the written version. During discussion with a builder member, get your requirements written in the contract or they will not be viewed as valid requirements and will not be done. Heeding this warning can avoid confusion and disappointments. As a buyer, it is your right to be informed. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with a Sales Representative or do not feel that they have the knowledge or are forthcoming with answers move on.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SALES REPRESENTATIVE
Once you have found a desirable location, the next step is to gather important information pertaining to the area. To get answers to your questions, make an appointment with the sales representative. You will avoid interruptions from other clients especially during busy weekends. The following are important questions to ask your sales representative:
- Is the builder a member of the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builder’s Association?
- How long has the company been in business?
- How many homes does the builder produce annually?
- When would closing be if I purchased now? It is common that the closing date will be anywhere from 4-12 months. If the land is not yet registered you may be looking at anywhere up to two years. Ask if there are inventory homes available for quicker occupancy.
- How long have you been a member of the Tarion New Home Warranty Program and what is your current rating? Go online to www.tarion.com to view a list of Ontario builders ratings and conciliation.
- What is your builder warranty? Although the Tarion New Home Warranty Program is specific in their warranty, additional builder’s warranty may vary.
- Describe your company’s after sales service program? Has it been successful? Often a builder will have a brochure or documentation explaining this program.
- Are you the developer of the area as well as the builder? This is an important question as the developer controls the area and also controls the lot allotments to the builders. For example, they will often decide where a retaining wall may go and what materials they may be made. The builders may have no influence on this decision.
- Are maps and information available to find the following?
- Zoning of the area and the surrounding lands. Has the zoning been set or could it change? For example, land in front of you was slated for medium density (townhouses) but has now been changed to high density and a highrise will be built blocking your view. What is the zoning of the roads around you as well? Is the adjacent street going to someday be a four lane? Is the dead end street you now see going to be one day opened to another community? All very important questions.
- Do the maps have engineered approval and are they stamped approved by the City? Important because if they are not yet approved, the City has every right make changes.
- Easements, Restrictions and Right of Ways. Typically if you are purchasing a townhome you will have a right of way or access to allow you to the backyards. This means that if you fence, you must allow the middle units access by a gate to their property. Other easements may be phone or cable but most commonly will be for a catch basin. This drain is typically in the back corner of your property and the grade of the land usually determines its location. You may not alter the grade of the land when there is a drainage easement. You may fence near them on the lot line. Always check in case there are special restrictions.
- Hydro, Cable, Phone, Street Lighting, Postal Mail Boxes and Fire Hydrants. I call this street furniture! Chances are you will get something. It is a rarity today to find a lot totally unscathed. Search existing neighbourhoods to see how they have been camouflaged by landscaping. Many homes have actually improved their appearance as a result of creative landscaping.
- Sidewalk Locations. This can be very important. Typically, if a sidewalk is scheduled for an area, there will be a deeper set back for the house, resulting in a smaller back yard. You must know this information in advance; warning flags are if the house is set on a busy street, near a park or a school. However, do not assume this to be the case. Many new areas are putting the sidewalks in after the fact and leaving very little room.
- Driveway Locations. Do you allow a purchaser to change their driveway location? In some locations the garage sticks out in front and they also have the garages flush. This can pose some real problems for the final streetscape. You may look out of your living room window and all you will see is your neighbour’s garage. Note that most builders will not allow you to change the driveway location, however you should know what could go in beside you.
- Civic Addresses. This can be quite important in choosing a lot for many people. Until registration has occurred on the land this is impossible to obtain.
- Landscape Plan. Usually in order to obtain registration. A City Approved landscape plan must be submitted and approved. It will show how many trees a house may get, it will also have a legend showing the size and type of tree. The landscape plan may not be modified or changed by the purchaser. Do not bother asking. Typically the landscaping of your new home may take up to a year for completion. They may not install curbs until all heavy construction has been completed and therefore the final coat of asphalt for the road will also not be done until the curbs are in. The driveway is done usually after curbs as well. Driveway and sodding will all be weather dependent as well.
- Grading Plan. Review this plan – it will usually tell you what the grade is, where the house would be placed at front and rear, and at each corner of the property. The grade plan can tell a story of how the entire street will look when completed. It can tell you whether to expect retaining walls, where the water will run off, the slope of your driveway.
- Community Information. If you are moving to a new area, ask for this information. The builder should provide you with all up-to-date information on schools, places of worship, associations, shopping and more.
BUYING NEW AND THEN SELLING RESALE
When purchasing a brand new home usually the last thing on your mind is selling however let us leave you with a word of advice. Always consider resale in your final equation. How many upgrades do you put in, should you select a premium lot, should you take that model home that’s on the busy street simply because you have fallen in love with it? Remember location and value. If you go to sell your beautiful brand new home in 5 years it will not be so new anymore and now it will be in competition with all the other homes out there. Will it still be special and if so why? So before you move the walls and make it the kind of home only you would buy or before you get that really good deal on a very busy street, think about how your value will increase in the years to come. Remember your home is your investment. Some increase better than others.