A couple looking at their new house from outside.

You wanted to build or buy your new home. You set a budget and added a certain percentage to be on the safe side. You talked to your bank, discussed it with your family and then decided you will go through with your plans. If you bought a newly built house, you would be moving in soon. If you opted to build your own house, you will have to wait awhile.

You have now moved into your new home, excited and very relieved that you’ve finally done it. Then you find little things that don't seem right. Other things don’t seem to work. You now find yourself continually spending a lot more time and money for your home.

This scene is very common and you can take steps to minimize, if not completely eliminate, this from happening. Here are 10 hidden costs of new homes that will help guide you to avoid these problems.

Lack of Information

When buying a new home or building a custom home, you need to get as much information as you can. Ask for copies of all documents relating to the construction of your home and understand them. You would need the architectural, structural, plumbing and electrical plans as a basic rule. Acquire a copy of any other documents and permits before and after the building process that you can get. This will help you in any problems that appears on your home and any future additions and renovations.

Talk to your agent or builder and ask beyond what you are provided. There would be certain things that you will not readily understand. Take the time to clarify them until you are satisfied with the information given. If your new home comes with appliances and other devices, request all of the operating manuals and contact information for service and possibly where it was purchased and the invoices.

Latent Defect

Latent defect is defined as a defect that is not discoverable by reasonable or customary inspection. New homes are not immune to latent defects and may be costly to repair depending on what turns up.  Plans are approved before construction begins and modified several times during construction. During these stages, a number of things might have been overlooked. Some are easy to fix but others might not be.

It is a sound consideration to have a third-party construction professional look into the design and final built form to provide you with unbiased comments and observations. This will give you the information you need to make an informed decision. Gather all information such as the defects found, possible costs for repair and warranties that might cover it.

Your Contract

You will surely have a contract when buying or building a custom home. Check this thoroughly, or better yet, also engage the services of a professional that deals primarily with home purchase or home building. Your contract will contain what is included and often times is vague or completely omits what is not included. Even if you were told by your agent or builder that certain items are included, it may be hard to prove the same unless they are in the contract.

Look into your warranties. Different parts of your new home have different warranty durations and conditions so be sure to take the time to go through them in detail. This would save you a lot of time and money when one of these items shows defects.

Inspecting Your New Home

Spending an hour or two inspecting a new home is not enough. You need time to thoroughly inspect every part of your new home and clarify anything that you see that can either be a defect or out of place. An experienced Design Everest professional can save you a lot of time and effort in this process.

When building a custom home, take the time to inspect every stage of the building process. Your presence on site alone would discourage the builder in taking any shortcuts or giving you sub-standard work. Work closely with the architectural designer, structural engineer and the builder to get what you need and what you are paying for. 

A couple inspecting their new home with the help of a professional to identify defects before moving in

What Materials Were Used?

The question of what materials were used ranks as one of the most often asked questions in inquiring about new home costs. Inquiries are mostly about the floors, walls, roof, windows and structure. Next would be questions about design features, floor finishes, kitchen counters, cabinets and fixtures. But often, other important questions are forgotten.

A good example would be paint finishes, and depending on the home design, could account for a significant area of walls, and at times even floors that are finished in different kinds of paint. The cost of repainting a home is not cheap and how often this needs to be redone in the future depends on how the paint base was prepared and what materials were used. Like for kitchens, bathrooms and other wet areas, washable paints would be recommended. Paint products come in different formulations and base materials for specific area applications. Knowing these materials and if they were used in the right way would save you on maintenance and repair costs down the road. Another consideration is the brand/model of mechanical and plumbing equipment and to make sure there is a reputable maintenance technician nearby who is certified to work on it. 

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs should be considered when computing your new home cost. Outdoor spaces exposed to different weather conditions would need to be maintained more often. A bigger garden or space costs more to maintain and would either cost you your time if you do this yourself or your money if you hire this job out. 

Good access to critical components in your plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling can be the difference between a simple job or work that would include ripping out walls and floors and restoring them.

Pest control, gutters, storm drains, filters are some other items that would add to your maintenance costs.

Future Considerations

Building regulations and requirements are amended to adapt to changing conditions. Your new home would most likely comply with all current codes, but is it prepared for near future requirements?

Solar power systems and sustainable technology designs are now being encouraged or enforced in different parts of the world. The car you are driving now may soon be replaced by either a hybrid or an electric model. You may not need these now but look into your new home design and see if you can easily and cheaply provide for these and other requirements.

Do you have everything you need?

Pre-built homes are often a compromise. All the things and spaces you would need or want to have adds up to the new home’s costs. Consider the furniture and appliances that you already own and want to keep. If these are not going to fit, you will have to dispose of them and buy new stuff, have your new home modified to fit them or put them in storage. Make a list and factor these in before committing to a purchase. Remodel and additions maybe needed and knowing the cost and implications to have these done prior to purchasing can help you make a more informative decision.

Custom homes give you more flexibility to keep and use the items you already own and to plan for what spaces you need now and for the near future. The time and money you spend in planning can be recovered by avoiding unforeseen expenses.

Look into your new home’s structure

The structural design supporting your newly built home should have been approved under existing codes, regulations and guidelines. The builder should have followed these approved plans as best as they can. But both of these are not perfect. There are numerous factors that affect the structure of a home during construction.

Situations may arise during construction, be it man-made or natural, that would affect the overall soundness of your new home’s structure. The effects may show up during later stages in the construction or when completely finished. On-site structural evaluation services done by a certified structural engineer can minimize your risks and help you identify and attend to any issues.

In California, numerous areas are already undergoing either mandatory, voluntary or triggered seismic retrofits. Find out if your new home is built, or at least prepared, to follow these standards and help you survive a major earthquake.

Other new home costs

Besides all the possible new homes costs mentioned earlier, a lot of other costs come with owning a newly built home. There are different taxes associated with your new home and community. The distance and time for you to go to work, your kids to attend school, grocery and other recurring trips you may have to take.

Utility bills may also change than the one you are accustomed to. Other possible costs are the add on safety and emergency features you will need that didn’t come with your new home.

We can help you minimize or avoid going through all these unforeseen costs. We maintain teams of experienced California-licensed engineers eager to help you with the right advice and services.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to info@designeverest.com for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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