If you’re ready to buy a home, I would encourage you to consider buying a new construction home.
About 25 percent of the homes purchased in Canada each year are new homes. Among the many benefits of new homes are that you get to choose your builder based on reputation and quality, and you get to personalize the features of your new home to really make it yours.
When buying a new house or condo make sure you are dealing with a reputable builder. Check for the company’s registration with Tarion, the provincial home warranty program that all builders must be registered with. Tarion’s websites features a builder directory that informs you if the company has had claims or compliance issues with the warranty program.
Also seek out references from current homeowners who purchased from the builder. Don’t be shy about knocking on doors and asking residents about their experience. They will likely be happy to share their knowledge.
If your builder has a model home or suite, take a close look at the design, layouts, construction quality and finishing details. These details will tell you a lot about the quality of the homes they are building. Also ask for a list of specifications — from construction materials to electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. Check who the manufacturers are — ideally they should be reputable brand names that offer a good warranty.
If you feel pressured at all by the staff at the sales office, or if they don’t answer your questions to your satisfaction, you may want to consider doing business with a different company.
Purchasing new usually means that you will make your selection of a suite or model based on floorplans. Buying from plans requires careful attention and some people find it hard to visualize a room’s size strictly from written measurements. Be diligent and make sure you evaluate the space you are considering buying and how you will use it.
Understanding floorplans and room sizes can be difficult to judge. What might at first glance seem like a lot of space on paper, might in fact be too small for your existing furniture. When you go to the sales office, bring a list of your furniture and its dimensions. A tape measure is a handy tool to bring along so you can get a true sense of a room’s size and how it might function with your furniture.
Also think about traffic paths. Will doors, windows or a fireplace limit your furniture placement? There is a lot to think about when looking at the plans, and some builders have turned to computer-generated graphics to help purchasers better visualize what they are buying. Some even offer a “virtual” 3D model that helps buyers see a fluid presentation of the home or condo suite. Ask your sales representative if your builder offers any of these tools.
Don’t rush anything. Ask lot of questions and take your time to consider what is likely the biggest purchase of your life. You’d spend lots of time researching a car purchase so take at least that amount of time researching your new home purchase.
Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta) and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).