One benefit of shopping for new construction in the Charleston area
is that Builders have put countless hours of effort into making it an easy process for you. They have built stylish model homes for you to tour, decorated them attractively, and staffed them with knowledgeable sales experts to help guide you throughout the process. It is easy to be “wowed” by the decorated models and feel like you’re on information overload from all the details the sales staff have presented to you. Don’t forget to ask some important “sensible” questions that you might be curious to know before you’ve signed your sales contract.
1.) What are standard features of the home and what is upgraded?
As you tour several neighborhoods you’ll quickly notice a difference between “standard” or “included” features and “upgrades.” Builders approach this differently— for instance, Lennar
takes an “Everything’s Included®” approach where upgrades are already built into the price of the home, whereas other area builders strive to offer the lowest possible base price and let homeowner’s pick what’s important to spend their remaining budget on.
Both approaches have their merits but it’s important as a homebuyer to distinguish what approach your builder of choice has, and to know what’s included, and what upgrades cost so that you’re not hit with sticker shock when you see the final price of your home.Keep this in mind as you tour the model home and ask the sales agent what’s upgraded and what’s standard.
Some builders encourage a visit to their Design Center to give you a better idea of the options available and their costs—these choices can extend from structural modifications to the home (like opting for a 4th
bedroom vs a loft), to the finish on your appliances, to the knobs on your cabinets, to the addition of a screened porch & backyard sod package.
2.) How long does it take to build a home & when can I expect to move in?
Many new homebuilders follow a similar process. They encourage homebuyers to pick out the homesite they want for their new home, select the perfect floorplan, and make any structural modifications. After establishing this framework buyers then choose all the finishes and fixtures that will outfit the home. Once the construction process starts it typically takes anywhere from three to six months to build a home (here
are some more specifics on that timeline). During this time period, you’ll likely be nailing down the particulars on financing your home. If you’re in the process of selling your existing home, that is also a factor you’ll need to take into consideration with the timeline. While unforeseen things like delays in permitting, weather setbacks, or material shortages can pop up, it’s likely that your builder will be able to give you a good estimate of how long it will take your new home to be built. And they’ll keep you updated along the way as you attend various walk-throughs and a new-homeowner orientation. If you’re looking to move more quickly, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a great new home. Many builders have available quick move-in inventory that can close within thirty days or as soon as your mortgage is ready. Check out the great options
3.) How much are HOA fees & what are the Covenants & Restrictions for the community?
Most planned communities have a Homeowners Association and require annual fees as part of living in the neighborhood. These fees cover the upkeep of common areas like the entrance to the neighborhood and any amenities. The more amenities your neighborhood has, the higher the fees typically are. You’ll want to be sure to budget this in as part of your homeownership cost in addition to your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. Covenants and Restrictions serve a variety of functions and are something worth considering prior to signing a sales contract. For example, they can dictate the type of fencing you install in your new home and might limit structures like above ground pools or outdoor sheds. To know more about the ins and outs of HOA’s and Covenants and Restrictions, read here
4.) Does the home come with a warranty and what’s covered?
Most builders offer a 1-2-10 warranty
on their new construction homes. What does this mean? It means that after you’ve been in the home a year they will do a walk through and address any issues like nail pops that are likely to have occurred after the home settles as it goes through seasonal changes. Your appliances and plumbing will be covered for two years (often this is through a manufacturer warranty rather than your builder). The structure of the home is covered for ten years. This is a very general sketch and will vary from builder to builder so be sure to ask your builder on the particulars. It is also worth asking if they have an in-house warranty department that will be available 24/7 to address any unforeseen issues that you might have.
5.) How many homes will be in the neighborhood?
Many master-planned communities are part of long term projects that might reach decades into the future. Summers Corner
in Summerville is a perfect example of such a project. Ask the sales representative what the plan for your particular neighborhood is and for the community overall. It’s good to know the projected number of homes and the potential for any commercial space for retail or restaurants, as well as civic buildings like schools or churches. This will give you a feel for the future landscape you can expect and is information that might potentially impact your home’s future resale value.
As you take all this information in, you’ll be able to compile your valuable research to make a well-informed purchase decision. Remember that your sales counselor and builder will be there for you throughout the process and will be happy to answer questions as they may arise. The Guide,
oldest and most reliable new home resource, can also serve as a trusted resource for information as you navigate the process; you’ll find articles on a variety of topics from mortgage info to move-in tips and everything in between in the “Resources”
section of the website.
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