10 Tips to Buying New Construction on the Emerald Coast of Florida

Construction frames.

Are you considering building a new home in Crestview, Freeport, Navarre, Rosemary Beach, Watercolor or Niceville Florida?  Consider these questions in your search for that fantastic home of your dreams.

1.  Is the builder licensed?  This may seem like a basic assumption, but always verify his current active license and possible compaints .  Go to the Florida Division of Business and Professional Reguation website and you can check.  Even if you’ve had a friend use the contractor, he might not be legitimate.  If the builder has already commenced work, go to the online Clerk of Court records in your county to see if permits were pulled in his name.  You may research Okaloosa County, Santa Rosa County or Walton County records.

2.  Will you be able to see other homes the builder has completed?  If your contractor is a custom-home builder, he should be happy to send you to see a past customer’s house to view his workmanship.  Talk to the customer, too, and find out what his experience was with the builder and during construction. That way, you may have more reasonable expectations about the building process.

3.  Will you be able to review the contract before signing?  Some national builders will not release their purchase and sale agreement for you to take home to review.  They will state it is not their policy.  Insist on it, especially if you are not comfortable turning over a deposit and signing under pressure in the on-site salesperson’s office.

4.  Does your building plan comply with association restrictions or covenants?  Do not assume that the builder and your local building inspector will check your covenants for you.  The building inspector may only check for compliance with building codes.  Don’t risk a lawsuit from the community association because you have installed the wrong roof type, used unapproved materials, built an unacceptable style of home, etc.  You could be sued, and it could be costly.

5.  Does the builder offer a warranty?  The State of Florida does not require the builder to warrant their work for any period of time.  Check your state laws.  Ask if the builder will provide a policy for defects.  An example of a reputable warranty company is Bonded Builders.  Coverage will be for up to ten years for major structural items, which is transferable to a new buyer of your home.

6.  Who will be your main point of contact during construction?  Will it be the salesperson, the construction supervisor or the builder?  Find out how communication works with your contractor.  If it is a large national company, with many layers of management, be proactive and follow up with any questions, don’t assume your issue will be taken care of.  Remember, if the builder has a 100 lot subdivision and dozens of homes under construction, information can get lost that might affect the completion of your house.  I know a couple who recently bought a new home from a national builder in Crestview Florida.  The home needed a variance because it was built over the setback line.  The variance would take 30 days before it was approved.  The builder did not notify the buyers until four days before the closing that there would be a delay because of the variance.  Why?  It seems that no one at the company was responsible for the “overall” construction picture. 

7.  I don’t need a “home inspection” on a new home, right?  Not necessarily.  Great builders are not afraid of home inspectors.  Home inspectors may be the objective third party who will guide you through to reasonable expectations from the builder.

8.  Don’t expect the house to be “perfect” at your punch-list walk-through.  Homes are built by human hands.  Expect dozens of items needing correction, such as paint, scuffs, trim work, landscaping, etc.  Your builder should have a system to finish the home to your complete satisfaction, however, in writing.

9.  When should I worry?  Red flags are when the contractor asks you for more money outside the terms of your contract.  Certainly, if it is a “change” during construction, you might have to pay for it at the time depending on your agreement.  But if the request is for moneys to “continue” work that is not specified in your contract, seek legal counsel.  Also, if the builder stops construction without a reasonable explanation for days or even weeks, you may need an attorney.

10.  Should I use my own Realtor?  If it is a national builder represented by an on-site salesperson, you should strongly consider bringing in your own Emerald Coast real estate agent.  On-site salespeople can be great and knowledgeable, but they represent the builder, and may not bring up any of the items in this list.

Finally, buying and building a new home in Crestview, Freeport, Navarre, Rosemary Beach, Watercolor or Niceville Florida is very exciting.  Expectations are high, and emotions follow, because new construction can fulfill your lifetime dreams.   Educate yourself, research, and interview your builder.  And consider hiring an experienced real estate agent to guide you along the way.

It’s Wendy!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, CRP, CRS, GRI, ABR     Rulnick Realty, Inc.

Destin FL Real Estate

Destin Short Sales & Pre Foreclosure Help.

Read Wendy’s Destin Real Estate Blog

Call toll-free 1-877-ITS-WNDY (1-877-487-9639) or local 850-650-7883 ext 204

Email Wendy: [email protected]

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