When you’re looking at buying a home, there’s a lot to be said for buying new. As the first owner of a property, you can truly make it your own. You get to choose colours, cabinets, flooring and fixtures without having to deal with design choices or shortcuts made by previous owners.
“Look five pages into the blueprints to see how the home is actually built.”
The thing is, buying brand new doesn’t necessarily mean you’re buying perfect. There are a few things to look for when purchasing a new build. And who better to provide a few tips than home experts, and HGTV Canada stars, Bryan and Sarah Baeumler? Fortunately, RBC had the chance to sit down with them to get their take on the most important things to consider when buying new.
Thoughts on New Builds From Bryan and Sarah
When asked about how to approach buying a new build, Sarah Baeumler admitted that her approach today would be very different than it was when she and Bryan built their first home together.
“Like many homeowners, I saw the finished picture first — which was more your architectural design, and all your beautiful fits and finishes,” she says. “It’s taken a long time with Bryan to understand that you don’t really need to look at the final picture — rather, you need to look five pages into the blueprints to see how the home is actually built. “
While you want your home to look fabulous and reflect your tastes, personality and lifestyle, the Baeumlers stress the importance of prioritizing your decisions when it comes to customizing your newly constructed home.
Want to know how much you could afford? Find out in 60 seconds with the RBC True House Affordability tool.
“At the end of the day, says Bryan, you need to choose the options and upgrades that will reduce the operating costs of the home. You need a good foundation before you have anything else.”
Bryan’s perspective is that having a well-constructed home that is structurally sound, sustainable and efficient will provide you with the most value. It’s what will make the home more cost-effective to carry on a day-to-day basis, withstand the effects of time and weather, and truly offer a safe haven for you and your family.
How to Make the Most of New Construction
So how do you make smart choices when it comes to the build of your new home? There are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you can turn your blank canvas into a well-built home that you’ll love for years to come.
- Research the builder. Dig into the financial strength and reputation of the company building your home. You can do this by checking their rating with the Better Business Bureau, researching how many homes they’ve built, and even talking to existing homeowners to find out if the construction was sound, the process was smooth, and if deficiencies were addressed and fixed in a timely manner.
- Ask for a list of specifications. Find out what construction materials the builder uses, and understand what mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are planned for the home. If you’re not knowledgeable in these areas, get the opinion of a professional contractor or home inspector for peace of mind about what will be behind the walls.
- Check the warranty. In many provinces throughout Canada, builders must provide a third-party warranty. In the rest of the country, a warranty is left to the discretion of the builder (but any builder registered with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association must provide one). In most cases, a warranty will cover deposit insurance, protection against defective work and materials, as well as major structural defects. Some warranties will even cover living expenses to offset temporary accommodations, moving or storage if your move-in date is significantly delayed.
- Prepare for delays. Delays in new construction are inevitable, so be prepared for them. Have a back-up plan, be tolerant, and don’t make plans to move out of your current home before you’re certain of the closing date (this applies whether you rent or own).
- Buy within your budget. Understand that when you buy a new build, there are many optional upgrades that you can choose to enhance your home. For this reason, it’s best not to max out your home buying budget on the cost of the home itself, so you have room to make it your own and elevate the style and quality of the property. Want to know how much you could afford? Find out in 60 seconds with the RBC True House Affordability tool.
- Prioritize your upgrades. Bryan and Sarah Baeumler suggest focusing your extra funds on ensuring the structural and mechanical elements of your home are top-notch. Once you’re comfortable with the bones of the property, then think about what’s hardest to upgrade post-construction. For instance, if you have an opportunity to upgrade windows and flooring, it’s a good idea to do that now. Countertops, on the other hand, can always be enhanced down the road.
- Inspect, inspect, inspect. When you buy a new build — whether it’s within a new development or a single home construction — you have an opportunity to go through the home at varying points along the way. From formal walkthroughs with the builder to stop-bys over the weekend, take advantage of those opportunities to check on the construction, mark defects and note imperfections. When the builder is aware of deficiencies, they’re obligated to fix them before the home closes.
Buying a new build gives you the opportunity to move into a crisp, never-lived-in-before home with up-to-date appliances, modern finishes and your own colours. Knowing what to look for, what questions to ask and how to prioritize your decisions will help you design a home that you love — and that will love you back.
Ready to make a move on a new build? An RBC Mortgage Specialist can walk you through the process of financing your new home.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.