If you are considering building a home in the Kansas City area, there are many things to consider; namely the “4 Cs”: construction, contracts, codes and cost.
Finding the best land in and around Kansas City requires research and gumption. First, ask yourself what kind of design will fit your needs? Are you drawn to modernist architecture? Colonial? Does the style you have in mind fit with the overall neighborhood you have in mind? What kind of space are you looking for? A large, expansive lot in a quiet neighborhood? Do you want to live close to downtown? Building a home is akin to learning a new language in a foreign country – there is building terminology to master and blueprints to navigate. Liens, specs, codes and the like are just some of the provisions you’ll need on your road to building your ideal home. Some of the pitfalls along the way can include miscommunication with your builder, unforeseen labor costs, and securing financing. Utilize the resources available to you, from your own research to your Realtor’s expertise.
Before writing an offer, do your homework for comparable listings in areas similar to yours. Once the terms and conditions are agreed upon, your contract functions as your safety net. Understanding your and your builders’ legal rights and responsibilities will protect you as the project progresses. Once your builder has signed your contract, all further changes must be made in writing and signed accordingly. Some builders will charge for change orders. What are your options if there are missed deadlines and costs begin to pile up? These are some of the questions you should tackle before you sign on the dotted line. Negotiate fairly and precisely for your must-haves. You should lock in building costs and provisions by the time you sign a contract. Also, many lenders won’t lock interest rates until 60 days prior to closing. To extend a lock in interest rate - there could be costs involved. Give yourself time to lock in interest rates since your new home may not be finished on the date of signing. Make sure your interest rate lock-in is not the same date as the closing, so that you can make time for any issues that may arise.
While you have every right to expect a well-built home that is compliance with the law, it is vital to know the codes and regulations for building a home in the Kansas City area that apply to you. You should require proof of compliance that code and safety standards are met. Give yourself ample time for any lock-in of interest rates. The home is rarely finished on the scheduled date, so again, make sure your interest rate lock in date is not the same date of closing. You might even consider hiring an engineer or inspector to just occasionally do an inspection during the process. It's an extra pair of knowledgeable eyes. Yes, it's an additional costs - but might be beneficial in so many ways.
There’s a popular axiom that posits that you should add 10% to whatever original bid your contractor provided you. This is not a bad idea. The cost of labor and materials are substantial, not to mention other variables, including bad weather and bureaucratic issues (i.e. permits and inspections). All of these issues will affect the cost. Sometimes materials will not be available or miscommunication about execution will occur. The best approach is to be flexible so you can adjust your expectations when needed. Keep records: get copies of all receipts, permits, and other relevant documents. It is important to remember that most builders want a non-refundable deposit to ensure your commitment and account for changes. For example, if interest rates do jump, builders want assurance that you are still committed to buying the property. In your offer, you should put in a builder modification allowance. If there is money left over, it can reduce the sales price or be credited to you at closing. In the case of building your own home, escrows are typically used for landscaping and/or sod since most lenders do not want to escrow interior items.
As in all things, it is important to expect the unexpected. Building times can vary from 6 months to a year and more. (Depending on weather conditions & size) If you are purchasing a spec home, your choices may be more limited, depending on what stage the project is in and the materials available. Visit the model and closely examine the materials and workmanship, and find out what the base price excludes. With luck, patience, research, and diligence, building a home in the Kansas City area can be a wonderful and rewarding experience.
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