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New Construction: Developer, Custom Built or...?

For some people, there's simply nothing like moving in to a new home. Everything's new, fresh and entirely "you" from top to bottom. Many builders also offer warranties, adding peace of mind to your enjoyment.

That said, you have a few options when it comes to new construction, one of which you may have never even thought about. For a survey of each, see below.

Developer Built

Purchasing a new developer-built home instantly makes you a member of a community within a community, surrounded by people, who, like you, appreciate the advantages of new construction.

Things to Consider:

  • Completion Date: If you're trying to coordinate the sale of your current home or the termination of a lease with completion of your new home, remember that many factors can affect the completion date. Be sure to have a contingency plan.
  • What's Included: Find out what's included in the basic model you choose, as well as the cost of "upgrades" to lighting, floor coverings, countertops, etc. that can quickly add to the final price.
  • Stage of Development: Early buyers may or may not get a better deal, but also may run a greater risk with a developer without a strong track record in the area.
  • Builder Reputation: Research the builder's track record and financial condition on the Web, talk to others who have purchased homes from the builder, and speak with a trusted real estate professional.
  • Consider Financing: Before signing any contract, make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the contract, including requirements for deposits, fees, etc., and make sure that financing for your completed home is in place.*

Custom Built

Many people decide that the rewards of designing and building a one-of-a-kind home on their own lot can be worth the extra time, effort and expense required. Your only limitations are your imagination, applicable building codes, and of course your budget.

Things to Consider:

The considerations that apply to a developer-built home (above) also apply to a custom built home. In addition:

  • Financing Land, Construction and Completed Home: Financing requirements for your custom built home will vary according to the project. Typically you will need to secure construction financing that may convert to a mortgage when the lending institution determines that your home is completed to their satisfaction. A trusted real estate professional can help you locate a suitable property.*
  • Work with an Architect: You'll most certainly want to work with an architect. A trusted real estate professional can help you choose a qualified architect in your area who has worked with clients with similar taste and budget. Your architect may also manage the construction and/or help you find a qualified contractor. Be sure to get all terms, conditions, and costs in writing.*

Modular Homes

If you're thinking about the dull, sometimes poorly built structures of the past when you think of modular homes, think again. The quality and popularity of modular factory-built structures are increasing, and the designs, ranging from traditional to edgy Modernist, can be stunning. And because modular homes can be trucked (or even airlifted), assembly on a dramatic and difficult site may be possible.

Thanks to the controlled environment of modular home building, the process is inherently green, cost-effective and efficient. Some high-end modular homes incorporate green features such as bamboo flooring, high R-Value insulation and systems that reuse grey water (have cover description: Grey water is wastewater that is collected from sinks, showers, baths, and air conditioning condensate, and is treated for reuse).

Things to Consider:

The considerations that apply to developer-built home and custom built homes usually apply to modular homes, although the construction portion of your financing is greatly simplified by shortened assembly time. In addition:

  • Research the Company: In addition to offering an appealing design, the financial condition and track record of the manufacturer are all very important. Be sure to check references and inspect completed projects.
  • Consider Construction Options: Determine in advance what site preparation (permitting, foundation, utilities, etc.) is necessary and whether the manufacturer or your own contractor will perform each phase of the work. The advice of a trusted real estate advisor can help you acquire land, contact utility companies and recommend local contractors.
  • Look for "Green" Certification: Membership in organizations such as the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council ( and the offering of EnergyStar ( certified modular models help ensure that the color of your home is truly "green."

Whether you choose a developer-built, custom built or modular home, you're in for an exciting, challenging and ultimately rewarding time!

Talk to a Realty PRO Hansbarger Realty professional. We've been in the business of fulfilling the dream of homeownership since 1966.

* Consult with your legal and financial advisor before you proceed.

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