Buying from a Builder

Buying from a builder can be a great choice. You get to pick the options for your home. You decide on a price range. You get to pick a corresponding floor plan. You get a home that fits you to a tee.

What could be wrong with that?

Well, you can get a bad builder for one. From our horror experience file, a good friend bought her first home from a builder. She went to the showroom, and looked at the "artist's conception" drawings of how the development would look. She fell in love with a floor plan. Then, she signed the papers in one day.

Over the course of the next several months, she would discover that her builder was unreliable. After she got her third new closing date, she finally gave notice on her apartment, only to find out that the builder was not going to be ready for her to move in. She lived out of a local hotel for the next 10 days with all her worldly belongings in a moving truck.

Once she moved in, she discovered that the work on her home had been shoddy at best, and had violated building code at worst. She attempted to get the builder to fix these problems. Even with the help of the local government association responsible for "warranties" on new homes she didn't get all the problems corrected.

As the word got out, the value of her home plummeted. It took over 10 years for the value of her home to exceed the amount of her mortgage. Then it took two more years before the value had increased enough that she could afford to sell it.

In the end, when she was selling her property, she got on the Internet and took the time to look up her builder's rating with the local government warranty body. She found that they had a terrible reputation. She could have saved herself a lot of money and stress if she'd done this before she'd signed the papers to buy.

Moral of the story? Do your homework first. Check out the builder carefully before signing anything. The Better Business Bureau and other local and state monitoring agencies often have rankings of builder's performance and customer satisfaction. Find those folks and talk to them. Be sure that you understand the reputation and reliability of the builder before you buy. You are gambling on this builder based on what you know.

Once you are ready to sign a contract, have a lawyer review it carefully and let you know if there is anything in the contract you should be concerned about. If the contract is too biased in favour of the builder this is something to be concerned about. Get these clauses changed or be sure that you are willing to live with them if you don't.

Happily, the same friend who had a purchase nightmare went on to have a very happy second experience buying from a builder. Some builders do what they say they will!

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