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  #1  
Old 31st October 2012, 10:01 AM
Mirage Mirage is offline
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Default Home builder recommendations and experience

My wife and I are looking at selling our house as we are running out of space. Options of course are to build or buy an existing home. We are leaning towards building since the cost to build is close enough existing homes for sale in our area.

Wondering if anyone had any recommends, tips, experience. Who to avoid, what things I should ask?

We've done a bit of show home hopping and viewed the following builders:

A&S - great looking house in Amber Trails, built a lottery home, but searching online about their reputation, not happy to what I've found
Randall Homes - nice, but of course everything is extra
Artista - super nice, but super expensive
Kensington - another production home, same as Randall
Gino - top of our budget, but add on lot pricing that goes up $8-15 per year and they start to get out of range

I've read some great experiences and some horror stories about local builders. So kind of hesitant at this point to build without doing my research.

A few questions on building:
  • Has anyone ever hired a 3rd party inspector to keep tabs on your build?
  • Who holds the permits after recieving them? Can you request a copy?
  • Warranty on new homes from builders? 1yr, 2yr? Anyone ever have to get the builder to come back and fix things, was it a hassle?
  • Selling a home and building a home, do you have to carry 2 mortgages at any point?

Any info appreciated!
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Old 31st October 2012, 12:19 PM
Bigblue Bigblue is offline
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I'll chime in on this seeing as I've built once before and I"m building again. I'm sure I won't get everything out in this one post but I'm happy to answer questions. Of course these are my opinions, don't go with/against a builder on what I say but just use it as part of your research.

I previously built with Signature homes. They are one of the smaller builders but overall it was a really good experience. However, currently they don't have any models that perfectly suit what we are looking for so went elsewhere.

We're currently building with Kensington Homes and we've again had a good experience to this point. Possession date is December 14th and that is one thing to be aware of is that until you have a signed paper saying the possession, they'll just give you an approximate date. There can be a big difference between planned/actual. Our original possession was November 16th so 4 weeks past their estimate.

My sister-in-law is building with A & S. Going by what they say, I feel that A & S does some odd things. I feel they haven't given enough information to her being a first-time home owner and home builder. The dates are always very general when it comes to possession and has slipped by a lot. My future next door neighbour also is A & S and it's been very similar. He was supposed to move in August and potentially(they still won't give him a specific date) his house won't be done until end of December.

You mentioned that you've done some show home shopping. If you haven't already, check out Bridgwater Lakes as there are a ton of show homes within walking distance. It's something like 25 - 30 homes of varying size/styles.

As to your questions:
Has anyone ever hired a 3rd party inspector to keep tabs on your build? No, but they are subject to a number of inspections plus I go in at least 2 or 3 times a week to see how things look.

Who holds the permits after recieving them? Can you request a copy? They hold the permits as they are doing the work. You may be able to get a copy.

Warranty on new homes from builders? 1yr, 2yr? Anyone ever have to get the builder to come back and fix things, was it a hassle?
It's a one year warranty and the most common fix would be stuff like screw pops as the house settles. Cement cracks are not covered under warranty as I recall. It shouldn't be a hassle and wasn't for myself.

Selling a home and building a home, do you have to carry 2 mortgages at any point?
Not really but you'll have to do some bridge financing likely. Best speak with your bank on this one. Best advice I'd offer is that again you need a signed off possession date on the new place before you can officially market your new one because if you sell that old house with some assumed possession date and it slips a little(or a lot), you'll be looking for a place to stay in the interim which can be a huge pain.
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Old 31st October 2012, 02:46 PM
Mirage Mirage is offline
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Thanks for the info Ryan! We spoke with a guy from Kensington named Sabie who was very informative and we plan on having him take us through a few more homes. I haven't come across any bad experiences with them from online reviews and like some of the house plans they offer. Plus they have a list of quick possession new homes.

As for A&S, from what you mentioned, a lot of reviews I've read are exactly that. Buyers not getting the info they need, shady work, and horrible customer service from the receptionist, contractor to the owners even. They got us on the flash of a custom home, maple cabinets and other upgrades included, but after research it came across as the slick car salesman than honest realtor.
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Old 31st October 2012, 03:16 PM
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I think I was in the same boat as you. Last spring, I started to look at moving out. I started looking at pre-owned homes, but realized that I was way too picky and could see myself doing renos as soon as moved in. Too much work. I decided to look at buying new and being able to choose everything I wanted. That was any reno is not a reno, but an upgrade! I was near that price point where a new home made more sense. To me, you buy a new car versus a used car, there will be a definite price difference. For some reason, that's not the case with houses. Why buy older, when you can buy new, choose everything, and have a newer home built to newer specs?

Fast forward to today, I just took possession of a new home at the beginning of this month. This was my first home/first build as well. I went with Hilton Custom Homes. Just like you, I asked around and got opinion and advice from other people who built with many of the other builders. There's going to be tons of different opinions and such and you're going to get good and bad feedback. I think that's the norm with builders. The worst feedback I had was for Qualico and Randall homes. More bad than good was what I heard from the people I asked. But there are still people who have had good experiences with them too, so don't totally write them off. If you find a good floor plan that suits your needs then go with it.

You'll find out quickly, every nice option in a show home costs extra! It can definitely get out of hand. I went with the upgrades that were more permanent and harder to do after possession. Things like extra windows, extra built ins, more square footage, hard wired insulated pot lights, etc, really pay off. Things like counter tops, flooring, paint are very easily done after possession.

At this stage where I think you are at, I'd recommend you agree on a price point you are comfortable with. Go to all the builders and see what they can offer you in floor plans near the price range, and don't be afraid to go to other sales people in a different area. I was under the misconception you had to buy the house from the sale person in the area. Any saleperson can build for you in any area. Would have saved me a lot of trips across town.

I never had a third party inspector check things. I tried to keep on top of it myself. I also asked lots of people with knowledge their tips on what to look for. Still not a bad idea if you have doubts though.

I believe the builder holds the permits.

The builder usually provides a one year warranty on certain things and longer warranties on other things as well. In addition, every new home in Manitoba is covered for 5 years by the "New Home Warranty Program of Manitoba" located on Pembina highway.

I have had a great site supervisor who I have been calling with any little issues that I have had so far. No hassles yet.

If you are selling a house but are looking to buy another one, the bank should be able to handle that for you. You can have a mortgage on your current property and buy a new one. They will just transfer details over and make it work. That way you are not homeless lol. I am able to buy another home if I want at a higher price, my loans officer said he would close off the old mortgage, transfer my equity, and remotgage the newer amount as needed. Again, ask your loans officer what the process would be. In the end, remember they will make it work because they like your money!

I'm sure this will be a great ongoing thread.
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Old 31st October 2012, 03:16 PM
Bigblue Bigblue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirage View Post
Thanks for the info Ryan! We spoke with a guy from Kensington named Sabie who was very informative and we plan on having him take us through a few more homes. I haven't come across any bad experiences with them from online reviews and like some of the house plans they offer. Plus they have a list of quick possession new homes.

As for A&S, from what you mentioned, a lot of reviews I've read are exactly that. Buyers not getting the info they need, shady work, and horrible customer service from the receptionist, contractor to the owners even. They got us on the flash of a custom home, maple cabinets and other upgrades included, but after research it came across as the slick car salesman than honest realtor.
Haha, so true on A&S comparison. It's not even a slight against their homes because in general I like their designs and layouts. Funny story is that during the last Parade of Homes they actually had "hostesses" at the entrance of each of their show homes I went to. Just basically eye candy women in short skirts who were simply there to say hello, but couldn't answer even basic questions about the house.

Kensington is affiliated and I believe partly owned by Qualico Homes. I'm sure if you look enough you'll find both positive and negative reviews on all builders, it's just the nature of things. At least for ourselves we had to have 10% of the purchase price of the home at the start of building and then the remainder will come on your possession date. This may prove to be a snag just in the fact that most people don't have 40 - 50K on hand. We basically did a refinance on our existing mortgage for that and then a final mortgage will be in place for our possession date.

With the majority of the builders, just be really clear on what the upgrades in the show home are. Typically, they'll be done up to the absolute limits, but they should be able to provide you with a list of the upgrades including the price breakdown for each.
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Old 31st October 2012, 03:28 PM
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Oh yeah, one good thing to ask is if the builder has price escalation fees. Basically, that means from the time you sign a contract with a builder to the time they finish the house, will there be any change in the final purchase price. Some builders hide that fact and when you take possession, you have to pay the extra cost of what the materials now cost. And that can be in the thousand of dollars.


One other thing to ask, is when you get the Land Transfer Title transferred under your name. If its right away, that is good. If its at possession that's bad. Since the tax is based on what the land is worth. If its at the end of possession, the tax is based on the lot value AND the vlaue of the new house that now sits on the lot.

And one other tip about lots, don't settle on choosing a lot. I waited for a new stage to open to get a lot I wanted. Funny thing is that someone's deal fell through in an older stage as I was waiting to get a lot and i was able to buy the lot I wanted. That's the other great thing about building. You get to choose your lot. Not worry abut being stuck on a major thoroughfare or on and end corner lot with a crap front or back yard.
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Old 31st October 2012, 04:06 PM
Mirage Mirage is offline
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From cars to houses, its the progression.

ICE, where did you build? We were hoping the new Waterford Green area would start to develop at King Edward and Jefferson, but getting conflicting info that it can be a few months to another year due to permits from the city.

Last edited by Mirage : 31st October 2012 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 31st October 2012, 09:37 PM
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Yes from cars to houses, that's how it goes. I built in South Pointe. I decided that I wanted to get out of the hood lol. And as far as I know, the Waterford Green area should be good to go sooner than later.
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