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Discussion Starter #1
So, I thought I'd share some of my new home buying tips in the hopes that others will avoid the same mistakes. I'd like this thread to focus on the house purchase itself (not on whether or not it's a good time to buy).

Here are my tips:

-Low-E windows can melt vinyl siding (even in chilly Edmonton), and this damage is explicity not covered by siding companies. If you're buying a house with vinyl siding, beware.

-If you're buying a house (either custom or spec) before it is fully finished, take lots of pictures of everything before the walls go on. This will make it easier to do renos in the future, such as rerouting a dryer vent, putting in a recessed cabinet, running extra wiring, etc. It's saved my butt a few times already. It's also a good plan when you're doing renos.

-Have the builder run CAT-6 cable everywhere (or do it yourself if that's an option). Wired connections are soooo much better than wifi.

-For in-wall speakers and connectors at a fraction of the price, check out monoprice.com

-Have a good real estate lawyer look over the contracts before you sign anything from the builder. If possible, require the builder to have a home-inspector (or other specialist) sign off on each stage of the building process before they progress, as part of the contract. Do random surprise inspections on the building site (make sure this is written into your contract).

-Consider buying a completed/used house instead of a new one. That way you can find the imperfections/problems and use them to drive down the price.

-It might be easier to negotiate on extras (e.g. throwing in landscaping, installed garage door opener, fences, etc.) than negotiating on the actual house price.

-Make sure you negotiate on the house price. List price is the sucker price. If they say they can't build the house for less, they're lying. Trade prices and material prices drop when a housing crash hits.

-Horror story from a friend: Their builder had allocated less than 1/3 of the amount of concrete that a standard driveway in their area required. After their purchase agreement had been signed, the builder tried to get them to sign that they would agree to pay for the additional concrete required. Apparently they tried to pull similar bait-and-switch deals on several items. (They didn't agree and were fighting the builder on the many deficient items.) Eventually the deal ended up falling through. Watch out for builders that advertise low prices then try to get you to pay for a bunch of "extras" that should be standard.

Other tips would be appreciated. Hopefully we can help others learn from our mistakes. :)
 

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Good points. When our house was built we went through it at least once per week and took pictures of everything. It's good to witness exactly what is going into it and whether it's as advertised. Another tip is to avoid using a realtor and use the commission they would have received to be deducted off the list price. We did and saved quite a bit
 

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Instead of cat 6 throughout do what I did.

I had the electrician run a double wide box with an 18" conduit stubbed out between the joists in the basement.
This was on every wall in just about every room. Now I can run whatever I want into any room, any wall, no hassles.

I also ran an 1 1/2 conduit from basement to attic for easy future runs of satellite dish, alarm wiring etc.
 

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Yes, some good points. Re low e windows consider that it's your neighbour's windows you'll want to consider too. If they're oriented east, south, west and within 20 feet of your vinyl siding they may reflect enough to melt today's vinyl. (newer types coming on market with higher melt points)
 

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Yes, some good points. Re low e windows consider that it's your neighbour's windows you'll want to consider too. If they're oriented east, south, west and within 20 feet of your vinyl siding they may reflect enough to melt today's vinyl. (newer types coming on market with higher melt points)
It's the west facing windows you need to worry about. the sun gets low enough but still has some bite. The south facing ones maybe on a warm, sunny winter day.
My cousin parked his aluminum truck box on our deck one summer. it reflected the hot summer sun back on to the vinyl and deformed several panels. easy enough to replace (we had extra pieces left over), but still a hassle.
 

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When I compare new home prices to similar 5 year old houses in the same neighborhood, I find the new ones are about 25% higher. A builder confessed to me that the new home warranty actually protects the builder more than the buyer.
 

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- Buy a home in the neighborhood of a very good school. Even if you don't have children.
- Shortest commute to work possible. Walking or biking distance will payoff big time in time and money but this is not always possible.
- Close to quiet green space is a big bonus.
 

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I was always told to buy the cheapest house in a 'good' area, rather than the most expensive house in a 'lesser' area.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Instead of cat 6 throughout do what I did.

I had the electrician run a double wide box with an 18" conduit stubbed out between the joists in the basement.
This was on every wall in just about every room. Now I can run whatever I want into any room, any wall, no hassles.

I also ran an 1 1/2 conduit from basement to attic for easy future runs of satellite dish, alarm wiring etc.
Nice. That would be even better.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was always told to buy the cheapest house in a 'good' area, rather than the most expensive house in a 'lesser' area.
Yes, that's definitely good advice (although not always an option).

When I compare new home prices to similar 5 year old houses in the same neighborhood, I find the new ones are about 25% higher. A builder confessed to me that the new home warranty actually protects the builder more than the buyer.
Yes, I totally agree. They didn't do anything when I had issues with windows leaking. Very few houses will have anything show up in the first year. Also, most of the items in a house are theoretically covered by 1-year vendor warranties anyways. I'd trade a $1000 price drop for a new home warranty any day. Besides, if it's a large builder and something major/structural showed up in the first year, I suspect you could sue. (Although for small builders, they might not have any money if you did sue.)
 

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My friend bought the worst house on one of the best streets in Texas for $130,000. He got a double lot and what was left of a indoor swimming pool and a proper storm shelter.Homes on a single lot were going for $195,000.He bought it two years ago and moved from Michigan to live there and do it up himself.He did spend $25,000 or so plus all his time and had offers of $250,000 from neighbors but he is not selling it.Imagine early 70's vinyl and tile but a job where they mismatched colors because they used left overs from other jobs to complete lol.
 

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- Shortest commute to work possible. Walking or biking distance will payoff big time in time and money but this is not always possible.
Distance from where you live to where you spend your time makes a big difference. With a new home you won't have much choice though... just need to wait 5-10 years and hope something gets built near you.
 

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When we were negotiating our new house we had limited funds. We made sure to pay for things we couldn't do easily after the house was built. So we got the cold cellar, hardwood stairs and roughed in basement washroom. We went without A/C and high end carpeting.
 

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We had the deck built on our home we bought in 2001 because it was in a subdivision and who wants to deal with mud outside for months on end.The builder actually gave us a better price than we could have done ourselves ,that builder was Jeffery Homes and they are really good builders.Sometimes the builders can finish basements for a decent rate too and not all first time buyers have cashflow or experience to do that themselves.
 
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