Choices and Decisions

Buying From Plans and Model Homes

When you buy an innovative home, you will most likely make a decision based on the builder's plans or 2D and 3D model homes, or a combination of the 2. This requires careful thought and focus. Once designed, it can be difficult to imagine how your home will look or feel. It can also be difficult to know down to the smallest detail what is included in your purchase and what is not.

There are 2 keys to successful home purchasing plans and models. First, make sure you're dealing with a professional home builder or their sales staff - people who answer your questions thoroughly, don't push you and are clearly interested in helping you find the best home for your needs and situation. If you don't feel comfortable with a builder or their working staff, you may need to find a different company to do business with. Secondly, don't rush. Take time to consider all aspects of your purchase and raise millions of queries and ask. The more information you have, the easier it will be to eliminate uncertainty and feel confident in making decisions.

Construction Quality

Pay close attention to the overall quality of builders' model homes, from design style and construction to finishing touches. Although a model home may be just one of many designs offered by a builder, it provides a clear indication of what you can expect when you buy from the company. Ask for a list of specifications, so you can find out what construction materials, electrical, mechanical, finishing materials, and plumbing systems the builder is using. Check who the manufacturers are—ideally, they should be reputable and familiar with brand names that offer solid product guarantees.

Floor Plans

Most home builders offer new home styles, sizes, floor plans, and prices. Bringing your "list of needs and wants" to the sales office helps the seller zero in on the home that's best for you. When you find your home 2D or 3D plan or model you like, imagine living in it. How will it help your family's daily routine? Will it be suitable for any special activities you enjoy? Can it be adapted to future needs? Do you want to modify the layout? Often builders can reconfigure interior spaces.

The size of the room is difficult to judge. Rooms that look spacious on paper can be very cramped once your furniture is moved inside. Sometimes, windows, doors, fireplaces, and traffic routes limit furniture placement even in large spaces. If you're buying off the plan, use a model home to compare to get a sense of space and flow, or a sales office to get a gauge of size. Know the measurements of your furniture so you can more easily determine if the room is the right size. Alternatively, use cut-outs, measured to size, to test your furniture placement on a printed house plan. You may also want to sample traffic from the home to see if there are any awkward spots. Increasingly, new home builders are turning to computer graphics to help buyers visualize what they're buying—for example, 2D/3D floor plans and computer-generated/animated drawings using the manufacturer's "real" products. A virtual show home can be available 24/7 and with cinematic rendering, the builder can create a fluid presentation of the home. Ask if these sales aids are available or check on our builder's website.

Features, Upgrades, and Options

One of the unique aspects of buying a brand new dream home is that you get to decide the features and finishing touches you want in your dream home. Here is a list of things you should know and consider:

Standard Inclusions

A new home comes complete with standard features included in the original price of the home. These vary from one builder to another and often within a home design. Consistently, the quality of today's standard products is excellent, offering home buyers great value for money.

For many standard items, home buyers are offered options that will not affect the purchase price, such as the style of cabinets, kitchen and the color style and design of floor coverings.

Keep in mind that many model homes will include many upgrades, so when you visit the model, ask to have this pointed out. Be sure to ask the sales representative what the standard items are in each case.

Upgrades and Options

Most builders offer a full range of upgrades – high-quality products such as thick carpeting, premium countertops, or full exterior brick cladding. Upgrades will add to the cost of the home, but typically the builder will credit the cost of the item you're replacing, so the additional cost is limited to the difference between the items.

Finally, many builders will also encourage you to consider other features and finishing touches, large and small, that can add value, enjoyment, and convenience to your home.

These options are considered extras, and the cost will be added to the price of the home.

Making the Right Choices

So how do you choose your dream home features and finishes that are right for your budget, home, and lifestyle? Start by finding out exactly what standard features are included in the home's base price and how many standard options the builder offers. Likewise, find out about upgrades and extras: what's available and at what extra cost?

• Review your home-buying budget so you know how much you are comfortable spending.
• Choose the upgrades and extras that matter the most to you and that fit within your budget. Items that involve construction, such as larger windows and doors, are the least expensive and disruptive to do when the house is first being built. On the other hand, standard carpeting can easily be replaced in the future.
• Large home building companies may have a separate design center with product samples and trained specialists to assist you. Smaller companies may dedicate part of their sales office or model home to product selections.
• Some builders have set up working relationships with manufacturers and suppliers (e.g. flooring, lighting, cabinets). Appointments are made for you to visit the showrooms of these businesses and work directly with their representatives to make your product selections.
• Consider your family's needs and match your selections with your lifestyle. For instance, white kitchen cupboards may not be ideal in a house full of children, while lever door handles are great for anyone with mobility impairment. Also, consider if your choices are compatible with your belongings—for instance, does the color of the hardwood flooring work with your dining room set?
• Plan for long-term appeal. Designers suggest that you keep the "big ticket items" neutral, and add color through items you can change easily later without significant expense.
• Ask about the builder's most popular features; it can be helpful to find out what other home buyers have selected. And take your time. You are going to live with your choices for a long time, so you want to do it right.

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