When you purchase an older home here in Austin, the current owner likely already knows about the house's problems and issues. More than likely, the person who owned it when it was first built, who may or may not be the current owner, already found and repaired any defects from the construction process. For this reason, you can probably have some confidence that it does not have any major defects not already disclosed by the current owner.
When you enter into a contract to build a new home, you don't have the time and experience of other owners to rely on. All you have is the word of your construction contractor that the home does not contain any construction defects. You may want to take steps to help ensure that you can trust that statement.
Make sure you find a good developer
Most new construction occurs in planned developments. If you want to build within a certain area of the city or its suburbs, you may want to do some research before signing a contract by doing the following:
- Visit websites to see whether anyone expressed complaints regarding the developer's work or the developer in particular.
- Real estate agents often work with many developers. You could make inquiries to agents who work in the area in which you want to build.
- Local government officials may know or have heard about the developer you want to work with. They may provide you with pertinent information.
- Ask current residents in the development their opinion of the quality of the construction, along with how the developer responds to any concerns.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to determine whether former customers filed any complaints against the developer.
If you are satisfied that the developer you chose has a good reputation in the community, then you may feel ready to proceed. If you find derogatory information or your instincts tell you to walk away, then you may want to find a new development.
Spend some extra money on a home inspector
Unless you build houses yourself, you probably would not know what to look for when it comes to construction defects. Hiring a home inspector to go through the construction at the following times could provide you with some peace of mind that the quality of the construction is what you expect:
- Have the home inspector come out to look at the foundation once it is poured.
- He or she should come out again once crews have completed the framing of the home.
- Finally, the home inspector should return for a final inspection after completion of the construction.
Since you opted to build your home, you will need the inspector to conduct these three inspections to help ensure no construction defects exist. You only get one chance to get it right, so you may find the extra expense well worth the money.
Make sure you purchase a warranty for your new home. You can choose to purchase one from your developer's insurance company or from a third-party insurance company not attached to the developer. It depends on your level of trust.
If your precautions weren't enough
Sometimes, taking all of the precautions available to you will not be enough to protect your new home from construction defects. If that happens, and your developer fails to make things right, you may need to take legal action.