NEW CONSTRUCTION PUNCH LISTS THAT NEVER GET FINISHED

Cabin-shed 91211 006

 

Photo by Laura Rossinow/ 2011

Written by Laura S. Rossinow, Broker/ Agent, Keller Williams Realty

As a human race, we are always attracted to the new, the shiny and the beautiful to reel us in to want to look, to touch and ultimately to own. Why should this be any different when looking at real estate? Living in New England, the majority of the inventory base is an older, well cared for home with coveted period details; dental molding, wainscoting, wide pine floors. Along with these lovely details these homes can also have old knob and tube wiring remaining, lead paint issues, old windows, drafts and a host of other concerns that can be alarming to the average buyer.

The new wave in real estate is new construction and along with it comes a host of its own things to be aware of before signing on the dotted line. Your house is going to be built with new and possibly green materials; it will be tight, have central air conditioning, top of the line appliances, stone countertops and modern technological features. Be aware of potential elevated radon levels, delayed completion dates, inferior construction materials, grading issues and of most concern, the lack of the buyers incentive to scrutinize the quality of a new home versus a resale home with a proper home inspection. It is imperative to have a home inspector check the work on your behalf as the work is in progress if possible and walls open to viewing.

Your offer has been accepted when ground hasn’t been broken yet or you saw it studded out and now you want to add your upgrades as offered by the builder. Everything is moving along as planned, financing is in place and the closing scheduled. Your walkthrough 3 weeks before closing has multiple items that have not been finished. A punch list has been created so everyone is on the same page to have these items completed prior to closing.

The day before the closing, another walkthrough is done…nothing on the punch list has been completed and you are “freaking out” understandably so. What do we do now? The movers are arranged, phones disconnected, the dog is staying with your parents, kids registered in their new school and you have no place to move into.

Depending on what terms and dates were discussed for finalization when initially contracting on the property, funds can be held back at closing by the buyer’s side in the case that the builder cannot for whatever reason complete the job. An estimate of costs can be derived to determine how much is left to complete and associated fees related to those completions. A date is set for completion that is satisfactory to all and if the punch list is not completed by the agreed date, the funds agreed upon for hold back is forfeited by the builder/seller and goes to the buyer so they can complete the punch list by a contractor of their choice.

Builders are busy and its spring season. If you are reading this and have interest in new construction however have not purchased yet, a word of advice…Plan, Plan and Plan some more. When you hear the cliché “It always takes longer and costs more than expected” it is the absolute truth. Give yourself additional time for everything and don’t expect to move in to your new home on the day of closing . You will have many years to enjoy your new home after completion so make sure to pay attention to all the little details…having a responsive real estate attorney and buyer’s brokers on your side can be a huge advantage to make sure your interests are protected and you are properly informed from contract to closing.