By Dianne Schaefer
Many people look to buy new construction because they think they will avoid some of the problems and expense that you can have with older properties. When I go into new houses built by developers on spec, I often wonder what were they thinking when they planned the layout. Looking at older homes, there were lots of little rooms. Now people want something more open. Many of the new houses do have a nice family room with fireplace that connects to the kitchen. But, look carefully at the kitchen. Often there are very expensive appliances, but if you look closely the layout often does not work for cooking. This is especially true in renovations of 2 family houses. Is there counter space near the stove to put things down? Are there enough cabinets and storage. Is there a place to keep the vacuum cleaner, or a broom. (these take up a lot of space). Many times there is not. I found this out when I bought new construction.
When everything looks all shiny you don’t see these flaws. Do all the drawers and cabinets open, or are they blocked by something else. Often the handle on a stove keeps a drawer from opening all the way, or there is no space to fully open the dishwasher door, because it hits a cabinet. In new single family houses there is still the vestige of the living room, now reduced to a dinky little space that it is hard to know what to do with it, and if there is an eat in kitchen the dining room probably hardly ever gets used. I have seen a house where the living room did not have windows on one side of the room, so it seemed dark and dingy even though the house was new. When you looked at the house from the outside there a just a totally blank wall. There was no reason not to have windows. Why wouldn’t you have as many windows possible? Of course just because you have windows does not mean you have to put fake shutters on then. Shutters are meant to hang from the window casings, not be screwed onto the wall.
Just because a house is new or just renovated, does not mean there won’t be problems. A builder might give a 1 year limited warranty during which they will fix some problems, Find out what is covered. Anything can happen. There are so many subcontractors involved in a building a house, and it is almost impossible to supervise all of them. There are so many places where things can go wrong. Some pipes might not be attached correctly, a friend discovered the hot water had been attached to the toilet tank, and the toilet was always filled with hot water. Try to find out who built the house, or did the renovation. On a renovated property you can check for building permits. Make sure the electrical work was not done by the home-owners brother, unless, of course, he is a licensed electrical contractor. Sometimes it is best to buy a house that is new, but is a few years old – then all the kinks are worked out. Of course if you get involved with new construction early you will be able to make some of the selections of fixtures, but if it is the first house in a new development make sure you know everything about what is going to be built around it, so you don’t have surprised a few years down the road.