Huntington Homes’ Knowledge Base contains information about the new home building process.
Please click the “read more” links below for more info.
Straight Talk About Home Buying
Consumers have made it clear that they want better information about the home buying process.
If you’re like the people we have talked with, you have some definite ideas about what should and shouldn’t happen when you buy a new home.
You expect the builder or sales agent to listen to you, hear what you want and present you with clear, understandable options.
You want pricing information that’s up front, complete and ensures you won’t get expensive “surprises” later on. You don’t want home buying to be a game between you and a pushy sales person looking for a fast sale. You want to know that the person building your home is committed to your satisfaction – that you aren’t just another “number”, but a valued customer.
We believe that when you buy a home, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than this. And if any builder or sales agent you talk to can’t meet this standard, you should take your business elsewhere.
For homebuyers, it all comes down to a few important points. Professional homebuilders have the skills and knowledge it takes to “do the job right”. A solid track record and experience are essential qualifications. And most importantly, the builder must be honest, fair-minded and committed to customer service. We couldn’t agree more.
Why Buy New
For many home buyers, the choice between a used home and a brand-new home is easy: new homes offer a whole range of advantages that are simply not available in a resale property. Here are some of the reasons that have convinced others to buy new.
High-quality construction. The technology of home building has improved tremendously over the past few decades and new homes are built better than ever before. They are solidly constructed and well designed for today’s lifestyles. They are highly energy efficient, with excellent indoor air quality. From heating systems to roofing shingles and windows, today’s building products work better, last longer and often look better. The result is a brand new home that is far more comfortable and healthier, easier to maintain and more enjoyable to live in.
Warranty. Resale homes simply do not come with a comprehensive warranty. If something goes wrong, you have do deal with it, there and then, no matter what it costs. Buying a new home, on the other hand, offers peace of mind. Professional builders stand behind their work with an after-sales service program and a guaranteed third-party warranty. Your builder will explain how this warranty works so you can be sure you are getting the coverage that you want. Ask to see a copy of the warranty document, before you sign a contract.
You know what you get. With a new home, there are no surprises when you move in. You know how the house was built and what went into it-what you can see and what is hidden behind the walls. You also know exactly how to operate and maintain your home’s systems and equipment. If you have questions later, your builder will be there to give you a helpful and accurate answer.
You get what you want. Why live with other people’s taste in interior design and decoration? Or spend the next few years redoing the previous owners’ home improvements when you can get what you want from the very start. From layout to cabinets to carpeting, new homebuilders offer a wide selection of standard and up-grade options. You can pick and choose what suits your own lifestyle, personality and budget.
You know the builder. In the end, the quality of your home depends on the quality of your builder. When you buy a new home, you also buy the company’s reputation in the community, its track record with past clients and its commitment to customers. That adds up to extra confidence and reassurance for you.
Well-designed communities. New developments are designed to foster a spirit of neighborliness by carefully balancing private and public areas. Increasingly, verandahs and porches present an open and welcoming facade towards the street, while garages are located at the side or back of homes. Walkways and bike paths meander through developments, and playgrounds and ballparks keep youngsters safely occupied. “Neo-classical” developments are now appearing that reflect villages of bygone days, with homes close to the sidewalk, white picket fencing throughout, a “commons” area-some with a bandstand or clock tower-and village stores to serve the community. These developments are attracting a lot of interest from both builders and consumers.
Market Conditions Are Great
“For anyone considering buying a new home, today’s market conditions may well be the best in many decades,” says the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. “Whether you are a first-time home buyer or already own your current home now is the right time to make the move.
Interest rates. The cost of financing a home is lower than it has been for years. For many first-time homebuyers, mortgage payments represent the biggest cost of owning a home. With lower interest rates, the costs of home ownership have fallen or remained stable in most regions, compared to rental costs, which have continued to rise. Homebuyers can take advantage of today’s favorable rates by “locking in” the rate on their mortgage for up to 10 years.
Mortgage flexibility. In recent years, banks and other financial institutions have introduced new and innovative mortgage “products” designed to meet the diverse financing needs and desires of homebuyers. A greater selection of rates, terms and options makes it easier than ever to find the right match between income and financing arrangements.
Use RRSP funds for home buying. Homebuyers can withdraw funds from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan, tax-free, to be used in the purchase of a home, up to $20,000 per person or $40,000 for a couple. To qualify, you must not have owned a home for use as your primary residence since January 1, 1993. Contact your local Revenue Canada office for detailed information.
Home ownership as an investment. In the long term, house prices in most parts of Canada are expected to keep pace with inflation. Over time, homeowners build up a tax-free asset for their retirement years and, of course, owning a home also provides low-cost accommodation once the mortgage has been paid off.
If you have been thinking about buying a new home, now is the time to take a closer look.
Canadian Housing – A Model for the World
Canadians are some of the best-housed people in the world. Our country has long been recognized as a world leader in residential construction technology, and more recently, the Canadian “housing system”-the system that supports new home buyers through technical research, consumer information, financing, mortgage insurance, new home warranty and so on-has gained international acclaim.
Throughout the world, a Canadian-style home is synonymous with quality. The popularity of Canadian wood-frame construction increased dramatically, for example, in Japan after a recent earthquake demonstrated the superior strength of this type of housing. Canadian new home professionals are building homes and communities in countries around the world, such as Germany, Russia and China, to mention a few examples.
To homebuyers abroad, the attraction of Canadian housing is clear. The homes are exceedingly comfortable, energy efficient, healthy, spacious and durable. The Canadian home has been developed carefully over many years to suit our climate, one of the most demanding and varied in the world.
Canadian construction techniques and building products are among the most advanced in the world. Energy-efficient construction-including superior insulation, high-performance windows and state-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation equipment has created homes that can withstand the harsh cold of winter or a mid-summer’s heat wave, while leaving the indoor air fresh and pleasant. The spacious, open design of Canadian homes is an additional attraction, along with a sophisticated selection of high-quality finishing products, such as exterior cladding and pre-fabricated kitchen cabinetry.
Our technological know-how goes hand in hand with good management. Canadian builders know how to achieve cost-effective designs and on-site efficiency. Canadian-trained crews are highly skilled, and work well and quickly. As a result, value and quality are built right into new homes from foundation to finishing, here in Canada and abroad.
But our international reputation goes beyond construction and technological expertise. What most Canadians take for granted-availability of mortgages at reasonable interest rates, low down payments, mortgage insurance, building codes and standards, and new home warranty-places Canada at the forefront of housing affordability, quality and choice.
In essence, the Canadian housing system ensures a reasonable opportunity for Canadians to own a home, with the confidence that their home is healthy, safe and durable, and that their investment is well protected. Many countries, including Russia, Morocco, South Korea, Trinidad, Poland and others, are looking to the Canadian system for ways to improve their own housing systems.
The Canadian professional new home building industry-setting the standards for excellence in homes everywhere!
What To Look For In A Builder
Buying a new home is a big decision and you want to get full value for your investment. This means choosing an established and reputable builder – someone you can trust, someone who has the technical skills and knowledge to build a great home, and someone who will deal with you fairly and professionally.
Before you enter into a building agreement with anyone, you should do a little qualifying of your own: Is this the kind of company that you want to do business with, and how can you be sure that you will get the home and the service you want? Here are some questions you may want to ask:
Is home building your profession? Home building is a serious business. It takes commitment to keep up with everything going on in the industry. It requires solid business skills and a track record of satisfied clients.
Are you a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA)? Membership in the Association is an indication of a builder’s commitment to the industry, to the success of their own company and, ultimately, to their customers. Members voluntarily adopt a Code of Ethics, which calls for fair and honest dealings with both consumers, and the people they do business with.
What after-sales service does your company provide? Professional builders stand behind their homes with an after-sales service program to correct minor problems that may occur with your new home. Ask how the program works, how home owners request service, and how quickly service problems are resolved normally.
Do we get a warranty with our new home? New home warranty programs vary across the country, but they all have one common goal: to provide protection for the homebuyer’s investment. In some regions, there are a variety of warranties available. Ask builders to explain the details-you want to make sure you get the warranty that best meets your needs, both now and in the long term.
Ask For What You Want
It’s hard to get what you want if you don’t ask for it. In the home building business, the real professionals want to know your expectations and needs. So, don’t hesitate to “speak your mind”. Not everyone finds this easy to do, but it is very important. If the builder or sales agent you deal with is not responsive to your questions, chances are you should choose another company.
When there are things about a new home that you don’t understand, ask questions. It’s the builder’s or sales agent’s job to explain things to your satisfaction. Good builders and salespeople want the opportunity to do this.
Ask questions about the builder. We’ve provided some suggestions. You need to let the builder know that character and reputation matter to you. A real professional builder can meet this test and will respect you for asking these questions.
Balance price and value. A price that’s “too good to be true” probably is. The range of prices in the new home market generally reflects differences in location, features and quality of construction. There’s no magic involved. Higher prices should reflect better-quality materials, finishing, features and service. The opposite is usually true when prices are lower than average. Make sure the price you are offered will deliver the quality you want.
Most trends shift often. The “must-have” of the moment might very well be tossed on the fad scrap heap before the next calendar page is flipped.
Housing fashions, though, are different. Since homes can stand up for a hundred years or more, trends in residential building tend to stick around for a bit longer. Paying attention to home-design when you’re choosing your new home plan is a good idea.
What We’re Building Now
For the past few decades, Canadians building single-family homes have been almost evenly divided in their preference for one-storey and two-storey designs.
But change is in the air; and it is coming fast. A demographic bulge of baby boomers will be moving toward retirement age, tipping off trend-watchers and industry experts to the impending boom in one-storey homes.
One-storey homes allow homeowners to vary ceiling heights from room to room. According to a recent study done by the Canadian Home Builder’s Association, about three-quarters of single-family homes built by people over 50 years old were one-stories.
Older people who are building homes express less trepidation about having enough living space, and are more focused on the mobility concerns associated with negotiating stairs. The imminent upsizing of Canada’s population of older people will undoubtedly translate into a greater proportion of one-storey homes being built.
What One-Storey Homes Offer
The most obvious benefit of the one-storey home is, of course, that residents won’t have to regularly surmount stairs.
People planning on building a home that they’ll occupy for the rest of their lives often prefer one-storey designs for their long-term accessibility. But a factor to consider for families who may not be settling down for good, is the potential resale value of the home they build. A high demand for one-storey homes can also be advantageous when it comes time for owners to sell.
By its design, a walk-out basement creates a unique indoor/outdoor space that allows you to use your basement more as a living area than a storage area. Having full-fledged windows and doors increases natural sunlight and allows the basement to be finished and furnished like the rest of your house. You can use the walk-out basement as a mud room, entertainment space, or even a bedroom. This can be particularly valuable if you have house guests. A door to the outdoors means that guests can come and go as they please without needing to use the front door! Rather than just use the basement for storage, you can turn it into an extra room for entertainment and living.
Many walk-out basements lead to patios or outdoor spaces. This makes entertaining – especially in the summer months – very appealing. However, since the living space in a walkabout basement is more viable, this means that storage and plumbing can be tucked away, but easily accessible. It is quite simple to access a furnace and plumbing in a walkabout basement without compromising any living space.
Homes with walk-out basements typically appraise higher than standard basement homes. This is due in part to the increase in viable living space. The natural sunlight that having windows in the walkout basement provides means that the basement can house bedrooms or other living areas and can be more easily used for recreation and entertainment.
The Home in Your Future
Obviously, fashion and fads can’t be counted on for absolute guidance. Although demographics and market trends point to a surge in the popularity of one-storey homes in the near future, that’s only one factor among many that each family must weigh as they search for their dream home. What home will be in your future is, of course, ultimately up to you.
Things To Watch For
Unfortunately, practices like the following have somewhat tainted the reputation of the home-building industry:
The builder’s selling price is kept low by quoting insufficient allowances. When the customer goes to make selections, there isn’t enough money to get what he/she expected. The customer must then pay for upgrades or accept lower quality components.
In order to sell at the lowest prices some manufacturers have developed less expensive components and materials of a lower grade, or with reduced warranties, known as “Builder Grade”.
When the customer pays the supplier to upgrade their selections, the builder receives a kickback from the supplier.
Air Miles and Point Programs
The builder, not the customer, gets air-miles or points from suppliers on customer selections and upgrades.
The builder’s contract doesn’t detail certain things. When a situation arises, it invariably costs the customer more money to get what they had expected.
Many builders work with less than complete plans. The advantages (to them of course!) are three-fold. The plan costs less to complete. It can be completed more quickly. Finally, almost everything omitted from the plan is not included in the house price, it gets added later at the customer’s expense.
Electrical to Code
The building contract indicates that the electrical will be as per the Building Code. This sounds fine, except that the Building Code provides for the minimum acceptable standard. This is often much less than what the customer was expecting. The advantage to the builder is that the selling price is lower.
The builder then asks the customer to meet with the electrician on site (this may have to be during your working hours). The cost for extra plugs, lights, switches, phone, cable, and computer outlets, will be a charge to the customer. In addition, fixtures will have to be purchased by the customer for any lights which are added.
The builder sells you a basic version of the house you like. Unfortunately, some of the options you thought you were getting haven’t been included. Once construction starts you realize what’s missing and ask the builder to add them. The builder then issues you Change Orders, each of which comes with a price.
In order to sell at the lowest possible price, many builders still build without them. Builders/agents may tell you piles aren’t needed. Engineers, however, will tell you that all of Winnipeg and adjacent areas were once covered by the glacial Lake Aggassiz. Problem silt deposits are found everywhere.
Piles only add about 2 percent to the price of a home. The good news is that homes on piles don’t move, and the value of the piles is accounted for in every real-estate appraisal.
You loved the builder’s show home! … beautiful artwork, fine furniture, all the latest styles and faux finishes, awesome window coverings, incredible landscaping. The only problem is the show home does not represent the builder’s standard home. Builders spend many tens of thousands of dollars extra on their show homes to make them sizzle. Go ahead, carefully check out the nuts and bolts. Ask questions. Look behind the sizzle!
Tips On Buying A New Home
Home buying is an important personal decision and a big financial investment. You want to find the home that’s right for you and the builder who provides the best overall value and service. Homebuyers and professional homebuilders agree there are a number of things you can do to make the buying process enjoyable and successful.
Do your research. Know what you want, what’s available, and how the buying process works before you start thinking seriously about signing a contract. Browse through newspapers, magazines and industry/government publications. Consult with family, friends and co-workers. Attend consumer seminars and check the Internet. Most importantly, visit model homes and talk with builders and salespeople.
Pre-arrange your mortgage. If you plan to borrow funds to finance your home purchase, talk to your lender about mortgages early in the process. Knowing in advance how much you can spend comfortably and getting pre-approval for a mortgage means you can proceed from “just looking” to a signed contract with confidence.
Check the builder’s qualifications. There are many reputable, professional builders in the industry who provide great homes and great service. As you talk with builders or their salespeople, ask a few questions: How long has the company been in business? Is it a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association? Will the builder give you references? What after-sales service does the builder offer? Does the builder supply a guaranteed third-party warranty and what does it cover? “Personal fit” is also important: Does the builder (or salesperson) listen to you? Understand your needs? Offer useful advice? Do you feel confident that the company would be good to work with?
Check the home carefully. Whether a builder has a model home, a sales office or sells directly from drawings and plans, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to look closely at the quality of the builder’s home and what’s included. The builder’s “spec” list will detail the construction materials and finishing products. Ask to see a description, and samples, of the standard features included in the base price of the house, along with the description and cost of options the builder offers. When viewing a model home, don’t hesitate to try out windows, open drawers and look into every nook and cranny – the builder wants you to be convinced of the home’s quality and solidity.