Many new home buyers are faced with the question of what comes first - choosing your community, lot or builder?
This is a good question because different Qualico communities feature different builders. As we recommended in a past article, it’s a great idea to visit the communities where you think you’ll want to live, view some show homes, consider different lots, and talk to the builders. This is the best way to get a clear picture of the community, style of home and lot you prefer as well as the builder you want to work with over the next 6 to 10 months.
As you look at the Lot Maps in the different Qualico communities, you’ll see which lots belong to certain builders, or if they are still available for any builder to purchase. If you have your eye on a specific lot size or location that may narrow down your choice of builder.
Typically, lots are divided among premium or custom builders and grouped on specific streets to ensure continuity in the size and scope of home designs within an area. Custom home lots are generally wider and offer features such as water views, the option for a walk-out basement, or other features that are distinctive in the community. Certain lot locations for custom or premium homes, such as corners or near an intersection, can affect the lot price as well.
These are all considerations that your builder will be able to help you with at the start of your relationship.
Custom or premium home builders
If you’ve been to some show homes, you’ve seen the distinct features that distinguish one builder from another as well as custom from premium homes.
A custom home really puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you complete design flexibility and freedom to choose exactly what you’d like in your home.
A premium home allows you to still be involved in design choices but streamlines the process by providing pre-selected options.
On many of the Lot Maps for each of the Qualico communities you’ll also see Spec Home. This could be a premium or custom home that the builder has built for quick possession or to showcase a specific design possibility for a particular lot. If the spec home suits your needs and timeline, you might be able to make the final decisions on finishes and upgrades, depending on the stage of construction. This is another option for home buyers who require a faster possession date for their new home and don’t mind starting with some or most of the features of the home already in place.
Setting the Standard
Each Qualico community has architectural guidelines that builders must follow and you will want to be familiar with. These are in place to ensure the community is developed according to the standards that new home buyers have come to expect and to protect home values.
Questions to ask your builder
- How many years has the company been in business? This can be relative depending on the quality of the builder’s work. No one says that a newly established builder won’t do a great job. It’s just a good question to ask to gain an understanding of the builder’s track record and provide the level of comfort you need in choosing your builder.
- How many homes do they build each year? Some builders build fewer homes so that they are better able to use their own tradespeople and provide more dedicated service. Other builders have people and processes in place to manage higher volumes. You need to decide which approach works for you.
- Can they provide references? Specifically, ask about past clients who have built homes of a similar scale to yours. You also might ask how many “rebuilds” (building of another new home) they’ve done for past customers. This is the best referral – knowing people were so satisfied they had the same builder involved a second or third time!
- When can construction begin, and how long should the build take? Your build can generally take anywhere from 6 to 10 months but this can vary depending on the scale of your project in terms of custom features, size of the home, location, as well as how many projects the builder has on the go.
- What kind of support can you expect in designing your home? We’ll get into this more in the next article but you’ll want to be assured that the builder is committed to supporting you every step of the way—from the selection of home site, plan and add-ons to making your home the best it can be and designed to meet your lifestyle needs. Some builders have advanced online systems to help home buyers keep track and be involved in their project throughout the design process as well as during the build.
- Does the company belong to a provincial or national new home warranty program? All builders that build within a Qualico community will belong to a warranty program, such as the New Home Warranty Program of Manitoba. You will want to ask your builder what their warranty covers; some of the standards you should be looking for are a back to front warranty as well as a structural warranty (which is usually longer). Appliances, furnaces and other features of the home will have their own warranties that will be handled by the builder and turned over to you upon possession.
- What kind of service can you expect after possession? Every builder's after-sales service policy is different so it’s again good to ask what you can expect from their team.
The builders contract
Prior to selecting your builder, ask what’s included in a typical contract and if available, to see a sample contract. Once you’ve chosen your builder and home design, you’ll want to have the opportunity to run the contract by your lawyer before signing.
Some experts in the home building world caution against selecting your builder solely on price or what is considered standard features in their homes. This is because the only standard that truly exists is the building code. Beyond that, every builder develops their own standards based on the people they build for and the approach they take in terms of design, custom features, materials selection, etc. Each builder’s standards may include different things. Asking for a base price can be tricky because without getting into the contract, the buyer really has no idea what it includes.
The contract sets out the agreement between you and your home builder. It should provide full details of your build, what’s included, add-ons, home location, building schedule, possession date clauses, price and payment milestones.
You’ll want to ensure that you understand and are able to meet your obligations related to any contract conditions. You will very likely want to make some adjustments during the build, which is quite common so you’ll just want to ensure this is part of your builder’s process and there’s a system in place to keep track of such changes and any cost adjustments.
Now that you’re set to choose the builder for your new home, check out our next post on designing your home. If you’re looking for more information about a particular lot or builder visit the Qualico Communities website or call 204.254.9225.