A new home builder in Vienna asked me recently when he should expect home buyers to decide to buy his spec homes. My answer was, “as soon as you get the HardiPlank siding up, metal roof on the porch, and front door on.” From my experience with new home buyers in this niche market, they want to see a spec about 80% done before they’ll decide to write up an offer. And at that point, the builder will have already made 95% of the design decisions.
If you build it, they will come!
This 80% rule is more of my own personal view of the new home timeline. The principle here is that most people have a tough time conceptualizing what the house is going to look like, and with a lot of Vienna new homes pricing out at $1.3+ million in 2012, home buyers are understandably hesitant.
Home buyers who are on the fence should understand that the earlier you get into a contract the more control you can have with the end product. Things like:
- making kitchen decisions like cabinets, granite or appliances
- making bathroom tile selections and fixtures
- making flooring choices
- configuring the basement
- selecting siding, brick, stone etc.
- adding a fireplace
- and there are so many more…
Understanding the advantage of being involved earlier in the process is key. Then you will have the ability to make changes… or include options like a screened-in porch. The ultimate goal is that the finished product is what you are happy with, so, getting on-board with your builder early is the way to go.
How much time does it take to build?
There is one builder in Vienna who I consistently see build new homes in four months. A few years ago, I recommended that builder to a friend in McLean who owned an old split level that was a great tear down opportunity, and the end result was a fantastic home less that 10 minutes from DC. But, you need to know there was a month or two of planning that went into that project before Fairfax County issued a demolition permit and a building permit.
If you don’t own the property but are considering a builder who is proposing a tear-down/new home project in Vienna then it is essential to do some homework because you aren’t necessarily going to find out much online searching the county tax records. Here are some issues that may turn your 6-month project into a 18-month project:
- does the builder own the property yet?
- are there utility easements?
- what are the setback restrictions?
- are there storm water issues?
- are there other projects the builder is working on?
- has a site plan been approved by the town or county?
- and there are many more important questions…
Have you done a tear down project and have tips?
If you did a project like tearing down your old split level to build a new house, or bought one that is considered an infill home in Northern Virginia like McLean or Arlington, please leave a helpful tip or comment below. All I ask is that you don’t slam a particular builder, keep it civil, and let others know the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started.