Are You Ready to Build a New Home?
Take this quiz to find out.
As the editor of the Home Plans Group at Hachette-Filipacchi Magazines, Jeanne Craig writes about houses for people who are planning to build from scratch. Her work appears in Home Magazine's Home Plans, Woman's Day Favorite Home Plans and Best-Selling Home Plans. In "Are You Ready to Build?," Jeanne helps you determine if you're up to the challenge and thrill of constructing a new home.
Rapid pulse. Sweaty palms. Short of breath. Although these sound like the symptoms of an infatuated adolescent or an over-the-hill aerobics instructor, they're also the telltale signs of a person who's anxious to break ground and build a new home. You've stashed the cash, picked a plan and prepared the family for a change of place. You're eager to burst across the starting line, but before you take that first step, make sure you have no misconceptions about the process. You don't want to be over your head in dry wall before you comprehend what you stand to gain and lose. Are you ready to build? Take this quiz to find out.
"If I construct a new home, I can get exactly what I want." Answer true and you understand that building from scratch offers the unique opportunity to orchestrate every element of the home, from the siding and windows right down to the bathroom faucets and knobs on cabinets. Even the your stock plan can be customized to make it one-of-a-kind.
"My new home will be a hassle-free place to live." The answer is true. At least it will be for the first couple of years. If everything in the home is new, maintenance chores will consist of changing light bulbs. Fixtures, appliances and materials will be under warranty, and if you have a good builder, he'll come back to fix any construction glitches you discover after moving in, provided you call him within a reasonable time period.
"Building is an easier way to acquire a house." Easy? Was Rome built in a day? Constructing your personal empire is a lot different from buying one. It only takes 30 to 45 days to close on an existing home, but it takes an average of five months to raise a house with the help of a builder. And those 20 weeks are likely to be energy-sappers. You'll be under pressure to make hundreds of decisions within a very short period, and you'll be juggling these challenges with your family responsibilites and work. It's a hefty investment in time and mental focus, but the people who've been there say the fatigue is worth it.
"I can save money building a new home." Many people think they can trim expenses by taking on the role of general contractor, but this line of reasoning is more often wishful thinking. You could pocket the 20 percent that a hired hand would take home in profit, but the money earned could get spent. Subcontractors will frequently quote higher prices to one-time home builders who aren't in a position to give them ongoing work. Even materials suppliers who claim to offer you builder's discounts are likely to provide better prices to high-volume customers. However, that doesn't mean the answer to this question is false. There are homeowners who pinch pennies by doing some of the work themselves. If you have time, expertise and a couple of handy-man friends, you can tackle projects such as drywalling, siding or roofing.
"A new home will save on energy and insurance costs." True. Even low-end homes are typically built with more energy-efficient features than houses raised years ago. Double-paned windows, the standard in home construction these days, have almost twice the insulating value of the single-paned types in older homes, and new houses have heavy-duty wall and attic insulation.
"A new house will appreciate more by the time I sell it." This one's tough to prove true. According to the US Bureau of the Census and the National Association of Realtors, the average cost of both new and existing homes has increased by nine percent since 1978. Although experts say a new house will appreciate more than average in the first few years, its value eventually levels off. However, if resale value is a primary concern, you can research the amenities that are most-wanted in your area and incorporate them into your plan. Only when you build from scratch do you have that kind of control.
Did you answer most of the questions correctly? Congratulations. You can plan and budget with the best builders. But even if you had to rely on a cheat sheet to answer some of these questions, at best you're getting an education, which is the first step on the road to your new home.
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