1: Not hiring a Buyer’s agent to represent you.
There is a misconception that builders would rather use their own realtor to control the sale. The fact is builders welcome buyer’s agents particularly when they are involved in the process and add value to the transaction. An inexperienced buyer’s agent can hinder your representation when they do not understand the key points of negotiation through the building process and how to help you prioritize your upgrades and location.
2: Understanding your own needs.
Be honest about the duration of time you plan to spend in the home. Life happens and situations can change with the best of plans. However, going in the building process with a plan of how long you will be in that home, will help you to best think about how you will live in that home and what upgrades or changes are necessary to support that lifestyle. Your Realtor will always think about resale so use their expertise in understanding which current trends are passé vs. here to stay. This leads into the next point of space planning.
3: Poor space planning.
Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial. Let’s face it, thinking about storage space is the about the least exciting part of the building process but probably one aspect you will appreciate most when you’ve done it well. Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the master bedroom really need an oversized walk-in closet when the space could potentially be added to your bedroom or master bath? Pay attention to where you place your closets. There should be one in each bedroom and in a main hallway. But too many and the storage space takes away from the living space. Do you want a closet in the foyer? In our market, a coat closet near or in the foyer is essential. Do you plan on adding a mudroom? If so there should be a closet there or space enough to add cubbies or some other similar storage area.
4: Pay attention to your HVAC system including the venting.
Careful attention should be given to the size of your units. Models that are too small will be under-performing and won’t cool and heat your home efficiently. You’ll come to regret this when your home is too cool in the wintertime and not cool enough during the hot summer months. . Conversely those that are too large will utilize too much energy. Pay very close attention to the square footage limits of the unit and take into account the number of floors it is expected to cool then plan for a zoned or bigger unit if its pushing the limit.
5: Poor overall planning.
A model home can often leave us mesmerized by the newness and leave us forgetting about the practicality of our own lifestyle or habits that need consideration. Are there safety considerations for small children to make? Is this the home that is going to carry you through your retirement years? The answers to those questions and others will lead you to thinking about not just what you need out of the home today but how you can modify for years to come to accommodate changing needs. Your Realtor can help you understand the new construction trends like more flex spaces vs formal spaces.
6: Poorly lit homes.
Now is the time to put outlets and light fixtures everywhere and consider dimmers on every light in the house especially in living areas. Windows should be large and present in every room. Most secondary bedrooms often lack good lighting and become an annoyance and avoided later on.
7: Placement of the laundry room.
Again in space planning, you need to be honest about the habits you have as a family as well as the potential future use or obsolescence you could be creating. For example, some 2 story homes happen to have a small bedroom on the main level.
Putting a laundry room on the main level, can change the function of the home for the future if you ever are caring for an elderly parent or you yourself become injured for a period of time. Having the laundry room on the bedroom level is often most convenient but many would prefer to have it on another level of the home.
8: Placement of the kitchen.
When it comes time to bring in groceries, the kitchen should preferably be placed near the garage as well as near the dining and living areas for entertaining. The kitchen tends to get a lot of through traffic so it’s best to avoid as much traipsing foot traffic through the living areas as possible.
9: Placement of the garage.
This is where you really start to appreciate the side entry garage. In our market they are rare but when the opportunity and resources are available to accommodate a side entry, you’ll love the garage-less facade of your home. It is always preferable to have the garage placed near the kitchen and mudroom. When the option is allowed, think of the depth of space in the garage as well because as time marches on, you will appreciate opportunities to have a beer fridge , storage of lawn equipment, workbench or recreation items.
10: Letting someone TELL you what you need.
Ultimately, it is your budget, your lifestyle, and your family’s needs that should dictate what you ultimately construct. The professionals are there to make suggestions but they cannot tell you what you do or don’t need.