New Homes Series: The Septic System

Many of the new homes being built are not connected to city water and sewer.  Here’s what you need to know about septic systems.

Conventional Septic System: 

All interior drains run into a single wastewater pipe that carries the used water out of the house and into the septic tank.  Solids sink to the bottom of the tank and are referred to as sludge.  Lighter waste, like fats and oils float to the top and form the scum layer.  The clarified middle layer of liquid wastewater runs out into the leach field or drain field through perforated pipes or tubing.  The liquid wastewater is filtered by the sand and soil before reaching the groundwater supply.

The two main types of conventional systems are gravity systems and pressurized systems which use a pump to regulate water flow into the leach field.

Alternative Septic Systems

There are more than a dozen different types of alternative septic systems for properties with different needs.  Unique geography, proximity to lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, and oceans, various local laws, environmentally conscious consumers, or whole community systems rather than individual systems account for many of the reasons an alternative system may be needed.

For more information on alternative septic systems, please visit Home Plans Advisor or contact your local company specializing in septic system installation and repair.

New Homes Series: Construction Process

Building a new home takes time.  Depending on the level of customization and the builder’s schedule, building a new home can take a few months to a year or more.  Here is a general outline of the process for purchasing a new home.

  1. Prepare the site – Trees, shrubs, and grasses need to be cleared, the site is leveled and the ground compressed, septic system and basement prepared
  2. Pour the foundation – first floor plumbing roughed in, sometimes the driveway and walkways poured
  3. Frame the walls
  4. Rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC – 
  5. Roofing
  6. Finishing rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC
  7. Insulation Installed
  8. Drywall hung and painted
  9. Exterior finishes installed
  10. Interior trim installed
  11. Exterior walkways and driveway – This step may come early or late in the process depending on the builder’s preferences.
  12. Flooring and countertops
  13. Light fixtures, outlets, switches
  14. Finish plumbing
  15. Carpet installed
  16. Landscaping
  17. Builder walkthrough/pre-settlement walkthrough
  • Inspections: foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC
  • Good idea to have extra inspections done by an unaffiliated third party
  • Ask if you can attend inspections to learn more about the mechanical features of the home
  • Do not drop by unannounced!  Builders will allow you to check on progress as long as an appointment is made ahead of time.
  • Expect problems and builder cooperation after move-in.

New Homes Series: Types of Builders

  1. Custom
  2. Semi-Custom
  3. Production

Custom Builders

  • One of a kind homes
  • Built the suit the specific client
  • Particular location
  • Plans drafted by an architect
  • Land may be owned by the client or the builder

Semi-Custom Builders

  • Some flexibility in pre-drafted floor plans.
    • Moving some interior walls
    • Adding a bonus room or extra bedroom
    • Upgrading finishes
    • Adding decks or screened porches
  • Typically the builder already owns the site

Production Homes

  • Homes
  • Townhomes
  • Condos
  • For-rent properties
  • Designed by architect
  • Can be personalized by selecting from pre-set finishes
  • Do not allow changes in floor plans, windows, or other structural elements

Buyers & Agents Shouldn’t Forget About Resale Value

Whether new construction, recently renovated, or in need of some TLC, resale value should be one of the top conversations between a buyer and an agent.  Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked.  Why should you consider resale value before even making an offer?  Your future may depend on it!

Minimizing risk while maximizing returns through an analysis of current market data yields wise investments and more importantly, knowledgable homeowners and investors.  This resale-centric approach continues to encourage astute purchases for families and investors alike.

Three Types of Homes:

New Construction – Upgrade costs in new construction can pile up.  Builders often have limited finishing options, but an unaffiliated contractor can provide a greater variety.  Discussing upgrade options before making any decisions is the key to a well informed purchase.

Recently Renovated – These homes typically sell at the upper limit of their market range.  Homes that show very well (clutter free, fresh paint, new/refinished flooring, updated lighting, etc) sell very well.  Buyers looking to settle down for the long haul are in good shape here, but growing families or people who move every 5-7 years, may need to consider the resale value more seriously.

Fixer Uppers – Finally, in a home needing TLC, agents can offer important insight into what values a neighborhood can support.  This helps everyone involved by maintaining realistic expectations of resale value, and not over-improving for the neighborhood.   This is particularly important for buyers who plan on spending fewer than 5 years in the property.

Types of Updates:

Things that cannot easily be changed include the location of the home and the view.  These two factors, particularly the location, greatly affect market value.

Things like the layout, square footage, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms can be changed with fairly significant renovations, which if well researched and budgeted can earn a profit.  Adding a third bedroom will typically yield a far greater return than adding a sixth bedroom.

Lastly, the easiest update is the finishes.  Finishes include the flooring, cabinets, paint, countertops, doorknobs, moldings, etc.  These updates vary greatly in their budget, but again, well researched and budgeted renovations of the finishes can yield a significant return on your investment.  This is where the law of diminishing returns applies to real estate and as a result, each individual property needs to be uniquely analyzed for it’s current value and it’s potential resale value.