5 hard truths about moving into a new home, one year later

The calendar tells me it’s been one year since we moved into our newly built home, but my distinct lack of first floor furniture suggests otherwise. Looking around, the open flooring looks almost as vacant as the first day we moved in. Still, I’m looking ahead to my silver lining: the living room furniture is (finally) on order and should arrive in November. Maybe.

This is the second time we’ve moved into a new build, and, always one to avoid making the same mistakes twice, I’m working hard to ensure I do better with my decision making process. (Part of that process involves sitting on folding chairs for the last twelve months, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

Here are five hard truths about moving into a newly built home, one year later.

1. The builder WILL ghost you

The pre-delivery inspection is complete, your cheque is delivered, the keys are transferred to you. Poof! Just like that, you’re on your own. Missing cabinets? They’ll fix that, of course. The bathtub isn’t sealed? Maybe use another one in the meantime. There are fruit flies in the bathroom? Totally normal, they EAT in there when they’re working. But getting someone to attend to your needs ASAP? Good luck and god speed, my friend. Because chances are, there are 50 or so other brand new homeowners with their own set of moving day disappointments – and they all have the builder on speed dial, too.

Pack some patience, and perspective. It’s a brand new home! It took a large effort from a variety of crews with constantly moving parts to erect this dwelling in six months or less. While your concerns are valid, know that it will be on YOU to follow up (and follow up again) with the builder to get someone to attend to your matter. Often, it means email/telephone tag and time off work while you wait for the repairs to be made. Again, patience.

2. New builds come backed by Tarion homeowner’s warranty

Know the submission dates, how to make a claim, and what the builder’s obligation is when it comes to timelines for completion. One of the best decisions we made was to hire a third-party home inspector prior to submitting our 30-day form. The home inspector caught items we, hand on heart, would never have noticed – like how the ledge under a window sloped just slightly towards the home instead of away from it, or how our hot water pump was missing a 2-inch cover. Since we didn’t require a formal report from the home inspector, we saved money on the total cost of inspection services – making the good decision a great one.

3. Don’t try to furnish your home at once

Remember the folding chairs on our first floor? It’s our current living room furniture setup, until the real stuff arrives in November. Maybe.

No two homes are the same, and not all furniture complements the floor plan you’ve chosen. If you have pre-existing furniture, this means you may have to move things around until they mesh with your new rooms. Often, you may decide that a piece or two simply has to be replaced.

However, if you’re moving into a new build without furniture, I strongly suggest waiting until you’ve had a chance to physically walk in the home and take measurements. This is because floor plans are two dimensional, and the actual space is often bigger or smaller (or longer or shorter) than you have pictured in your mind. My biggest regret in my old house was ordering a sectional for our living room, thinking it would fit the space nicely – only to have it completely overwhelm the room. Determined not to make the same mistake in this home, we actually moved with no furniture at all (just mattresses to sleep on) and have been outfitting the rooms one by one with pieces that we love.

4. New homes settle

The basement floor may crack, nails will pop out of the drywall and the concrete slab that represents your front porch will probably tilt to the left. This is all part of the settling process and the reason Tarion allows homeowners to submit a one-year form for repairs.

The trick is to make a note of these small changes when you see them happen and make sure to write them down – don’t trust your memory when the time comes to submit your form.

5. New homes = starting from scratch. And starting from scratch costs money – a lot

Although I’ll always be partial to new builds because I love the idea of being the sole owner of my shiny new thing, the truth is, the expenses add up quickly. Everything from making the home comfortable (an air conditioner, window shades for privacy) to security and safety (a home alarm system, fences around your property) to simply aesthetics (painted walls, a finished basement and a drool-worthy kitchen) are now your sole responsibility. And although one can argue that all those bells and whistles are included in the price of a resale home, the fact is, it’s done for you (and hopefully done well so you don’t have to change a thing). Starting over is hard on the bank account.

So, one year in, would I change a thing? Not on your life. Yes, there are hard truths to purchasing a new build home, but in the end, I always remember the positive – that I’m fortunate enough to be a homeowner in the greatest country in the world. And since we’re Canadian, you could say that’s the very definition of a “cold” truth!

Lena Almeida is a work-at-home-mom of two feisty boys, a writer, social media strategist and a self-described shopaholic. Lena frequently shares home renovation projects and lessons she learned along the way on her blog Listen to Lena. Like many growing young families, Lena and her husband have often weighed the pros and cons of renovating their starter home or moving to a new home.

Lena Almeida is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.

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