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Brandt Hawkins, Columbus Realtor, in black suit

Building a new home is all about options. It’s an exciting yet strenuous process that involves an incredible amount of patience and time. The decision to build is one that requires a well thought out plan and attention to detail.


As with any decision regarding real estate, it is important to understand your motivation for building a new home. The construction process is unique in that it provides a level of excitement but at the same time can create a range of emotion. A few benefits of building a new home are:

  • You are the original owner

  • You may customize according to your lifestyle

  • Modern finishes and features

  • Energy efficiency

  • Save money in the long run



We strongly recommend that buyers use the service of a Realtor when purchasing a new built home for a multitude of reasons. While many buyers never consider the use of real estate agent, when asked by potential clients, I always respond with a resounding, YES! Would you go into a court case without a lawyer? Of course not. So, here are some benefits to consider about the use of professional real estate consultant.

  • There is no additional cost to you, the buyer, and there are no discounts for you if you choose not to work with a Realtor.

  • The builder’s representative works for the builder and not the consumer. They are compensated to not only sell but to make sure that the builder is getting every dollar possible. We have seen the upsell many times and often they are unnecessary upgrades that only benefit the builder’s bottom line.

  • When purchasing a new build, you are my client and your best interest will be at the heart of all negotiations. All purchase offers are written on builder contracts and my job is to help you understand contract clauses, riders and building options along with protecting you from fee’s that may not benefit you.

  • We can also assist you with financing options, not just those offered through the builder.

  • It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of walking through models and picking out features for your new home and this is exactly what the builder representative wants. As your representative, I will look out for your best interest explaining things such as neighborhood features, taxes, variances, school redistricting, potential commercial building and resale value. Again, the builder rep is focused on a sale, but I will focus on you and your family.

  • Our job is to help you see the big picture.

  • As your Realtor, I will monitor the entire build process as well as meet with your superintendent throughout each phase of the building process.

If you are considering building a home, please contact me prior to talking with any builder representatives. I can schedule several appointments with many different builders as well as advise you on the quality and reputation of each. This is a major financial decision and you will want somebody in your corner fighting for you.


Prior to building there are certain items that you must consider including time, budget, contractors and more. Planning is truly the key to a successful building process and an understanding of the types of new construction may help.

1. Custom Home

A custom home is one that is built for an individual customer with the intention of targeting specifications desired by that client. Those specifications usually include lot selection, floor plan design, materials, selection of colors and all the fixtures that will result in the finished product. Building a custom home requires you to be heavily involved which is why it is important for you to have time and flexibility. It also requires a spirit of collaboration to ensure that the builder is designing exactly what you want in your new home.

The advantages of building a custom home:

  • Buyer has control over the process (design, location, floorplan, size, materials, finishes and the final price).

The cons of building a custom home:

  • Buyer has control over the process (finding the right builder, the perfect location and floor plan, time, decision making, risk-the ability to envision the final product, added stress to your family and matching your finished product with your budget)


2. Spec Home

A speculative home “spec” is a home built with no specific buyer in mind. There are some builders who specialize in spec homes, but they may also be built by custom builders. These homes are often fully completed, therefore the design, lot location, and many times finishes have already been selected. It is important to note that spec builders generally build these homes with an appeal to a broader market and our conservative in selecting designs that people are willing to buy. This also includes keeping the price of the home within reason in order to reach the masses. Depending on the stage of the build process, some spec builders may provide an opportunity for you to make some decisions including paint colors, flooring and counter tops.

The advantages of buying a spec home:

  • Spec homes are usually a pretty safe investment for the consumer. It’s important to consider the builders reputation when purchasing a spec home. These homes are usually balanced in terms of amenities and upgrades, built in good neighborhoods and are marketable. These homes are brand new and usually move in ready. Another great advantage is that you can see what your money is buying unlike building a custom home. There is no imagination required.

The cons of buying a spec home:

  • The single most common deterrent for buying a spec home is the fact that decisions regarding the design have already been made. There is not much opportunity for the consumer to have any input in the design or construction of a spec home. Your wants and needs in a new home may not all be met and the price for those have already been included in the sale price. The ideal situation is for you to put a spec home in contract during the early stages of construction to allow yourself the opportunity to make some decisions.

3. Tract Home

A tract home is considered the least expensive home to be built and this is true for several reasons. Tract homes are generally offered to the market at a lower price per square foot because they are built in volume. These homes are very similar in style and floorplan which allows the builder to purchase materials in bulk. These homes can be found in certain neighborhoods and it is recommended that you consult your real estate professional for examples.

The advantages of buying a tract home:

  • The lower cost of a tract home is considered the greatest advantage for purchasing. It also decreases the level of uncertainty when it comes to neighboring properties. You will have a good idea of what to expect in the homes surrounding yours. These subdivisions typically build out fast which decreases the amount of time for construction around your home.

The cons of buying a tract home:

  • The are a few disadvantages when purchasing a tract home. Often these homes are price point driven, therefore, there isn’t a priority placed upon quality finishes and investment. While they are nice homes within and budget friendly you may notice certain finishes are not high level. These finishes may be found in cabinetry, millwork, hardware, appliances and flooring. These homes typically fill the need for first time homebuyers, but they are not always ideal for short term investments. Resale value is always something to consider when looking at tract homes.



Construction loans are different from your standard mortgage loans. A mortgage loan can only be applied to a structure and since you have decided to build you must look at a construction loan. There are a variety of ways that this can be accomplished. A common and convenient option is to apply for a construction to permanent loan, also referred to as a one time close.  This prevents you from having to take out two loans. Construction loans also typically require you to put is substantial amount of money down, at least 20%. With the complexity of these types of loans it is highly recommended that you speak with a qualified lending institution to detail the most suitable option for you and your situation. If you need assistance in finding a reputable lender, we would be happy to make several recommendations.



Selecting a builder can be exciting but at the same time overwhelming. There are many options to consider when selecting the builder to create the home of your dreams. As your trusted real estate advisor, I will help you determine which builders’ best suit you and your building needs. We will talk about the type of new build that fits your needs then discuss the builders who specialize in those areas. It is important to understand who the quality builders are as well as evaluate their reputations. I will then schedule appointments for us to meet with potential builders. Upon reviewing all the offerings together, we will select the best builder for you.



Selecting a lot to build upon is often more challenging than choosing the home itself. There are so many questions that must be answered prior to selecting a homesite whether it be for your custom built, spec or tract home. It is highly advisable that you speak to a qualified real estate representative prior to making a lot selection. While aesthetics play  an important part in selecting the perfect homesite, it is important to consider some of the following such as: Soil Samples, Topography, Lot Orientation/Direction, Accepted Elevations, Flood Plains, Nearby Development, Zoning Regulations and Restrictions, Utility Access and more. Selecting the perfect lot requires research and attention to detail. It will not only create an opportunity for a successful outcome, but it will also keep you within your budget.



Up to this point, many decisions have been made regarding your newly constructed home. Purchase contracts for new construction are generally builder specific and require thorough review. It is always a good idea to have another set of eyes to make sure that you are getting everything that you deserve and there are no hidden fee’s or clauses that may have long term effects.

In reviewing the contract, we will make sure that all builder incentives are listed and properly acknowledged including lender and title fees. If you have chosen the builder’s lender and they cannot get you approved, will the lender still honor any previously offered incentives? It is also important to understand your termination rights, earnest money deposits, contractual dates and deadlines and contingencies. A few other items to consider are the estimated property taxes and what they will look like. New homes are not fully assessed until completion which means your full tax amount will not be applied until the following year. We want to be sure that you are fully aware and that there are no surprises. Lastly, it is important to understand all warranties that apply. Upon review and acceptance of the terms and conditions you may move forward with executing your purchase contract.



1. Foundation
Construction begins with the homesite being prepped for the foundation. There are 3 common options for foundations: slab foundation, block wall foundation or poured wall foundation. The foundation process not only includes the walls and concrete slabs but also the underground plumbing, drainage and waterproofing.

2. Framing
Framing is often one of the more exciting phases of the build process because you can begin to visualize your new home. The framing stage includes the installation of the subfloor, walls and roof structure. The roof is then shingled, and the windows and exterior doors are installed. At this point they will backfill around the foundation and then prepare to move forward with what is considered the slower part of the process. It is slower in progress because there are more details involved.

3. Rough In
The “rough in” or rough mechanicals phase is where the mechanicals of the home are installed. This includes HVAC Systems, Duct Work, Plumbing, Electric Wiring, Outlets, and Switches. At this point they will then turn on your utilities such as Water, Electric and Gas. As the builder nears the end of this phase, they will schedule a pre-drywall meeting with you. This is an opportunity for you to verify all your outlets, switches and any other wiring components are where they should be. They will also go over the next phases of the build process and start to establish future timelines.

4. Drywall
The drywall phase is yet another exciting step in the process. This is where rooms take on a visual effect and become separated. During this step, drywall is hung and finished, and this includes the ceiling. The exterior of the home begins to take shape as well as the chosen materials are installed (Brick, Siding, Stone, etc.). If able, they will grade the home site in preparation for the outdoor living spaces, driveway and sidewalks to be installed. This phase is rather quick, and the home really begins to take shape.

5. Interior Finishes
This phase is by far the most exciting for the future homeowner. Many of the selections that you have made such as cabinetry, countertops, doors, fixtures, floors and trim are installed. The kitchen and bathrooms take shape as do many of the small details like switch plates, outlet covers and register vents. You are now on your way to the final phase.

6. Final Inspection
The final phase of the construction process is here. All the flooring shall be completed, appliances installed, the exterior painted and the yard has it’s finished grade, seeded or sodded. The last thing left to do is clean the entire home and prepare for the final walkthrough. The final walkthrough is essentially a quality assurance check to ensure the home is in an acceptable condition for you to move towards closing. It is also the time for homeowner orientation. This is where you will learn everything you need to know about your home and how to maintain its functionality. Any questions that you may have should be asked at this time. You will also want to record specific dates for post-closing inspections by the builder. There is usually a 30-90 day and then a 1-year inspection.  Now you are ready to close.



Now is the time for, Congratulations! You are officially the owner of a new home. Although this is the official end of the buying process our friendship carries on. Occasionally there are things that come up, questions arise, and we will always be a phone call, text message or email away. We will continue to be your trusted real estate advisor because we not only want help you buy, sell or build but we want to help you live! 

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