Everything you need to know about Buying a New Construction Home

Five years ago we bought a new house – a new construction home in a small planned development going only on a floor plan and artists rendering.

After we signed the papers, I came home and immediately went online to try and find any information on what I could expect with the “new construction” process.

When do we have to get a mortgage? What exactly do we do at the design centre? How long was this actually going to take? What exactly have we gotten ourselves into by buying a new house from plans? You know what I found in my search? Not a whole lot.

I had so many questions about the process and I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a lot of information online, even on our builder’s website –  just sweeping statements like “Homeowners can choose from a wide range of exceptional standards and upgrade features for flooring, cabinetry, plumbing, electrical and much more” and a lot of “book an appointment to learn more”. Not helpful.

Also, vague.

I’ve created this series of blog posts to share our experience of buying a new construction home. I’ll be detailing everything from how look it took for our home to be built, to how we picked our upgrades and everything else I can think of in between.

While I’ll talking about our experience buying a house I believe most of it will be true for condos as well.  Hopefully, if you’re considering a new construction home, or if you’ve signed your papers and are wondering what happens next, knowing our experience will help (even though your experience will probably be different).

The New Construction Blog Series

Over the course of this week I will be publishing four blog posts with everything you need to know about buying a new construction home:

  1. Introduction – this post, an introduction to our home buying experience
  2. Timeline – when things happened along the way
  3. The Design Centre – when you go and what you needs to pick 
  4. Upgrades – how they work, what they cost and how to choose

Because I’m going to be sharing our home buying experience, I thought I’d share a little more about why we bought when we did and why we decided to go with a new construction home. If you want to learn more about our little backstory – read on!

Our Home Buying Story

Back in 2012 Chris and I were renting a cute little one bedroom apartment on the second floor of a house in downtown Toronto. One day while visiting my parents they asked if we would be interested in buying a house with them, 50/50.

My grandparents had always lived with us when I was growing up and I had warned Chris that my parents would most likely end up living with us, so this was not an out-of-the-blue idea. There were a lot of benefits on both sides – Chris and I, who on our own, were not able to afford to buy a house, would be able to invest in property and my parents would have us around for more help. At this point, my dad’s Parkinsons was getting worse, and while he was still able to do a lot he relied heavily on my mum as his only caregiver.

So, the decision was made – the four of us would buy a house and move in together (with our combined four cats in tow).

We set our budget, figured out our requirements and started looking to see where we could find a house that checked all the boxes on our list:

  • Within our budget (which FYI was half of the average home price in Toronto at the time)
  • Enough space that my parents could have their own private living space
  • A “walkable” neighbourhood where we didn’t have to get in the car to buy milk or go for a beer

It was hard.

While we found lots of houses within our budget that were in great areas, they were so small we would be living on top of each other. The places we found where we would all have enough space (and privacy), that were in great neighbourhoods were waaay outside our budget. We did find a few places we could maybe renovate, but they still would have required compromise on either space or budget.

Essentially, we were searching for a unicorn of a house.

Well friends, it turns out unicorns live in overgrown fields in small lakeside communities. Or at least ours did.

One day I came across a listing for a new housing development about to be built in a suburb of Toronto – the houses were within our budget, in a great neighbourhood and could be customized to suit our needs.

I never thought I would buy a new construction house. I worried about the lack of character and charm of a new house. My first choice would have been an old farmhouse with 100 year old floors, or a classic Toronto red brick semi.

It just didn’t work out that way. We fell in the love with the neighbourhood, visited the sales trailer, picked a lot and floor plan and signed the purchase papers in less than a week.

For us, a new construction home was the right fit. Instead of worrying it wouldn’t have any character, I thought of it as a blank canvas, ready for us to create our own character – all houses were new once, right?

I don’t want to debate about whether you should buy a new construction home or not, everyone is different and has different needs. New construction has both advantages and disadvantages – for us, it was the right choice. If you do decide that new construction is right for you, I hope this series helps and provides you with insight into the process. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly!

Enjoy!

Next Post in the Series: The Complete Timeline for Our New Construction Home 

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