With the majestic Canadian Rockies as the backdrop and a myriad of opportunities in this booming city, it’s no wonder Calgary is growing by leaps and bounds. Many home builders are ready to earn for your business, but it can be daunting to know who to trust and how to even start the process. With so many options, how do you choose the home builder that’s right for you? These tips will help you define your focus, narrow your options, and discover the best builder for you.
What Do You Want?
While this may seem like a simple question, really spend some time thinking about the best type of home for your family. Do you want multiple stories on a smaller footprint, or is a home with a large main floor important? Do you have strong feelings about the exterior material such as stone vs. siding? How about lot size? Will you have children playing in the backyard, pets that need to run, or is a rock garden with no maintenance more your speed?
Location is always important. Do you need a quick route to downtown, or do you prefer wider spaces on the outskirts of town? Do you want a park, pond, or creek nearby? Or do you want to be able to walk to the convenience store?
Are good schools important, or are you an empty-nester? Will you have overnight guests visiting who will need their own space? Do you like to entertain? Do you need a large basement for rowdy teenagers or a sophisticated patio for serene gatherings?
Take a good look at your current lifestyle as well as what you anticipate it to look like in the future. A well-built and designed home can accommodate several stages of life.
Figure Out Your Budget
While no one likes to play the budget game, it is crucial to have a realistic idea of what you can spend. Chances are, this is the biggest purchase you will make in your life so far. Spend some time crunching the numbers. Be honest. You don’t want to build the home of your dreams only to realize you can’t afford it a year later. Use a mortgage calculator to get an estimate of what you’d be paying every month.
Research, Coffee, and Research
Well, the coffee is optional, but research isn't. Once you have an idea of the features you value, the internet offers a wealth of information to help you begin the process. Start with reviews. Look up names of builders and reviews on Google or another search engine. Most builders will feature customer’s testimonies on their own site, but it’s the impartial reviews you really want to read. It doesn’t take long to discover if buyers are thrilled, ambivalent, or even upset with their builder. Make a list of buyers that repeatedly have happy customers.
Often builders will list any awards they have won. Make a special note of builders who are part of the CHBA (Canadian Home Builders Association). These builders are vetted and approved for their quality work and dedication to their clients.
And finally, ask your friends and family. See if you can find someone who has actually used a builder you are considering. There is no stronger endorsement than word of mouth from someone you know and trust.
Time To Go Visit
While the internet is a great start, it’s not a substitute for an actual visit. There is nothing like seeing the planned community in person. Download a map and spend a couple of days touring the featured show homes in each neighbourhood. You’ll be able to see the real thing as well as get a feel for the location. Is the view what you had hoped? Will the commute be reasonable? Can your kids bike to school?
You can also see the materials the builder uses as well as their attention to detail. Even if it's not the exact house you want to buy, it'll show you the quality and workmanship that will go into your home. Is there attention to detail? Is there excellence in craftsmanship, or did the builder do the bare minimum?
This will also give you a chance to speak with the sales agent. The agent can show you floor plan options as well as options in materials. Ask what is included in the basic plans, and what are the upgrade options and how much they are.
Don’t forget to get specifics on what the Home Warranty covers. All new home builds in Alberta are covered by the Alberta New Home Warranty Program but not all warranties are the same. Find out exactly what the warranty covers so there will be no unpleasant surprises later on.
Wants Vs. Needs
Part of the fun of building your own home is designing it with the features that are important to you. While it’s important to stick within your budget, leave a little room for a fun extra or two. Do you want a gourmet kitchen with a bar and wine storage? Or have you always wanted a finished basement with room for your exercise equipment? Is a walk-in shower a must for an elderly in-law? What about sliding glass doors and a space for outdoor entertaining? Only you can decide what is non-negotiable and what would be nice but isn’t a deal breaker if your budget won’t cover it.
As you begin to narrow it down to a couple of prospective builders, sign up for their newsletter. You will be the first to know if a builder is offering a special deal or promo that just might help you make your final decision.
Every home builder is a little different. They each have nuances, expertise, and specialties that make them unique. With a little research, some thoughtfulness into what truly matters for you and your family, and a realistic idea of what is offered, you can decide on a home builder who can turn your dreams into reality.