Each home starts with a solid foundation. The walls, windows and paint all follow in what many homebuyers know to be a step-by-step process. But how many home-buyers actually get to see the process?
From choosing the design to entering into the finished home, there exists an obvious disconnect between product and purchaser.
Companies such as Skymark Homes and associations such as the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association (NSHBA) are trying to help educate consumers in what to expect when building a home, what questions to ask and how to get the most of the investment.
Although building a home follows a general formula, the craftsmanship, materials and techniques used in the process are what homebuyers need to investigate before committing to a builder.
“Everyone can have a model home,” says Evan Collins, General Manager of Skymark Homes. “Skymark is trying to create transparency and show people what goes behind the walls and why the homes are priced as they are.”
The initiative to educate the consumer is helping the building industry justify the price point to buyers who normally would have made their decision based on layout and lowest price – a common trend among first time homebuyers.
The Skymark Homes Take The Tour program is a new initiative showcased at the Real Home Show 2013 in Halifax aimed at helping homebuyers of all experiences make the right choice when building a home and giving them the right questions to ask their builder – whether it be Skymark Homes or another HRM builder.
Take The Tour invites families to visit five job sites at five different stages of construction. The experience teaches families the importance of each step in the building process and opens the floor to questions with real builders ready to give real answers.
The first stage of the tour is Foundation and Concrete, then on to Building Envelope, Servicing, Energy Efficiency and lastly, Finishing.
“We teach people what to look for at each of the five stages,” explains Collins. “Families will see what engineering products are being used, and most importantly, they learn what goes into a quality home and why.”
One of the most important and often the most common mistakes first time and experienced homebuyers make, is overlooking the energy efficient component of the home before building, explains Collins.
“The window of opportunity to make energy efficient upgrades is generally very short during the build,” says Collins. “Making changes to the insulation or heating and cooling components are much more cost effective while the home is under construction.”
All builders will build to meet the National Building Code, but few builders go above and beyond what is required. Although the code supports a relatively high level of energy efficiency across the board, it is up to the buyer to seek out a builder who is qualified to build to higher EnerGuide ratings. Investing in energy efficiency comes with a higher initial price tag, but the long-term benefits and government rebates help in making the decision. Skymark builds to a minimum 83 rating which give homeowners a $3,000 rebate from Efficiency Nova Scotia.
Collins recommends the buyer always ask for multiple references before committing to a build, and to check the company’s certifications and standings with independent third party sources such as associations like the NSHBA.
Resources like Take The Tour and the NSHBA are the perfect stepping stones to becoming an educated buyer. Remember that builders are proud of their work and are open to answering questions about anything from foundation to finishes.
It’s your home and it should be built your way. The right way.