The Complete Timeline for Our New Construction Home

In today’s post in my New Home Construction Series, I’ll be talking all about our building timeline – how long everything took, the delays we experienced and important dates to keep in mind.

There are a lot of things that can delay a new construction home and we experienced many of them – Permit delays with the city, trade strikes, issues sourcing materials (of course our floor tile was back ordered).

One of the biggest unknowns (and risks) with buying new construction is the timing – it’s hard to say when you will actually get the keys to your new home.

So, how exactly does that work?

When we made the decision to buy our house, we signed an agreement to purchase and put down a deposit. The official paperwork was then signed a few days later after reviewing everything with our lawyer.

We signed our agreement on April 12, 2012 and had a closing date of November 26, 2012.

The Purchase Agreement included our builder’s best guess at a closing date (when the house would become officially ours) and a schedule for when they could change that date. We signed our agreement on April 12, 2012 and had a closing date of November 26, 2012.

So, were you delayed?

Yes. Absolutely. Before construction even bagan, we received an official notice on October 16, 2012 that moved our closing date to May 23, 2013. Later, after construction was underway there was a trade strike and we received a notice on April 2013 that our date would move to June 4th. In the end, we officially closed and received our keys on June 26, 2013, 7 months after the original closing date.

Will my new home be delayed?

Probably.

Things get tricky if you are selling one home to move into another, or renting a place that needs notice. I would definitely have a backup plan so you don’t end up displaced because of a construction delay.

I cannot stress how important it is to read every detail of your purchase agreement. In our case our builder could have technically pushed our closing date as late as April 24, 2014 – that’s 17 months past the original agreed date – that would have been our worst case scenario so we family and friends lined up to take us in, if needed.

Essentially it boils down to: Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

What else do I need to know?

In addition to your actual closing date, there are a lot of other important milestones to be aware of when buying a new construction home. Including meetings with the design centre to make structural and design selections and your deposit schedule.

Right, when do I actually give them the monies?

I am in no way an experienced home buyer, but my understanding is that buying an established home is like buying anything else – We agree that I’m going to buy and then I give you the money – or really, my bank does, because: mortgages.

Buying new construction is a little different. Instead of handing over a down-payment and making mortgage payments right away, we made a series of deposits to our builder, 4 over the 3 months after we signed our purchase agreement that added up to about 6% of the purchase price.

We still had to arrange for a mortgage, but that doesn’t kick in until you officially take possession of the home on your closing date.

What about the Design Center? When do we pick our finishes and talk about “upgrades”?

Our builder separated their selection process into two different visits – one to make “structural” selections and one for “design” selections. I’ll explore what happens at both of those meetings in tomorrow’s post, but we made our stage 1 (structural) decisions on May 23, 2012 (very soon after signing our agreement) and our stage 2 (design) decisions on November 12th.

Okay, so when my home is built, how do I actually get my keys?

When we were within a few weeks of our closing date our builder reached out to us and we set up a Pre Delivery Inspection (PDI).

The PDI is an opportunity to walk through your home and point out any things that still need to be finished or any issues that need to be flagged. Mistakes can happen.

For example, we actually had our builder finish our basement for us so that my parent’s space would be ready for them on day one. They had worked with the design centre to create a floor plan they liked and had a schedule of costs based on the selections they made. Once “upgrade” they had selected was to have the basement stairs open on one side (with a railing on one side instead of a wall). When we did our inspection we found that had not been done, we flagged it and were issued a refund for that upgrade.

There were also a bunch of other things that had not been finished yet that the builder had to resolve. If you watch home improvement shows, you’ll hear them sometimes call this a punch list.

About a week later we had another meeting with our lawyer to sign more documents, get our keys and officially take ownership of our new home.

So, when I take possession that means everything is done…right?

Mmmm not necessarily. We were one of the first in our development to take possession and while our actual house was done, there were still some things outside that were not. Like grass. Instead, we had a giant dirt pile and an old chain link fence.

Funny story: One day we came home to find that a sidewalk had been added in front of our house and three next to us. The sidewalk was part of the drawings that the builder had submitted to our city and so had to be installed. There are no other sidewalks on our street and so, we had essentially a sidewalk to nowhere.

Yup, it dead-ended at a telephone pole. This ridiculous addition was short-lived and after our neighbours started complaining to the city (worried sidewalks were going to be added to their properties as well) it was removed a few weeks later.

But, I digress. 

Eventually (on October 1st) our landscaping was completed and we had new sod, trees, and collection of climbing hydrangea plants (and no sidewalk).

Are there any other dates I need to be aware of after I take possession?

Yes!

Even though the construction of our home was finished and we had taken possession we still had to wait for our city to essentially approve the builders work in terms of how the house “sits” on the property (grading, drainage etc.). This meant that that until the city officially accepts it, they can make the builder go back and make changes and we (the owner) cannot make any exterior changes. This means no fences, no decks, no gardens until the city gives the okay, which for us was June 3, 2014.

Technically we weren’t supposed to even paint our front door before this date past but we didn’t realize that until we’d already done it – oops.

The other dates to keep in mind are to do with your new home warranty. Okay, I honestly don’t know if you will have a new home warranty. Where we live (Ontario) we have a province-wide warranty program for all new construction homes called Tarion. It includes a schedule of dates by which you can submit claims if there are any things the builder need to change/fix after you take possession.

I wish there was a visual to really show how long this whole process took.

Don’t worry friend, I got you.

Did I miss one of your new home timeline questions?

Let me know in a comment and I will try to answer them!

Next Post in the Series: Visiting the Design Centre and Making Upgrade Selections 

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