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Livin' Large in the Outdoors

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What to look for during a home inspection.

Because I specialize in new construction, a full home inspection is rare.  After all, during the building process a home is inspected at several stages along the way by a certified County Building Inspector.  The inspections include the slab/foundation, plumbing, electrical, and at the homes completion, a Certificate of Occupancy issued.  And, on top of that, most builders offer a 2-10 Home Warranty, that covers 1 year workmanship, 2 year systems, and 10 year structural, so there’s very little need for a buyer to spend their money on an inspection of a newly constructed home.

On the other hand, I strongly encourage all re-sale home buyers to have a complete home inspection done.  From the attached diagram (provided by a local home inspector) you can see that the home is checked out from top to bottom.  A written report is then provided to the home buyer and their real estate agent for review.  Over the years I've had buyers who want to ask the seller to fix every little thing, and others who ask for almost nothing.  So, the real question is, which repairs should you ask for?

There are some things that a home has to have like working plumbing, and in the metro Savannah area a working HVAC system is a must.  Personally, I believe that if something in a home leaks, or there is evidence of a previous leak, it should be looked at by a professional and the seller should take care of any repairs that are needed.  Also, the seller should be prepared to fix anything that comes up as a safety hazard in the report such has unsafe wiring.  I found a great article at HGTV.com that does a really job of outlining things to look for in a home inspection. They surveyed several inspectors around the country and put together the most common problems found in home inspections.  As they said in the article, a qualified home inspector is always your best bet for a thorough home evaluation, but it's a good idea to have a general understanding of what to look out for.  

When asking for repairs, buyers should keep in mind that sellers do not always have the money necessary to make repairs.  In that case, a negotiation to reduce the sales price might be an option.  Also, the buyer can cancel the purchase agreement during the inspection period if the inspection reveals too many issues.  And, sellers should understand that many home buyers are strapped for cash and cannot afford to have repairs made and buy a home all at the same time.  Of course, sellers can say no to any repair that the buyers ask for. 

Keep in mind, the point of the home inspection is to know what you are getting into when buying a home.   Just because an inspection uncovers problems, dosen't necessary mean you should not buy the home.   It can be an important tool to help you determine the value of the home and prevent you from overpaying.  Depending on what is uncovered during the inspection, you may want to conduct an additional inspection of the problem area(s) and work with the seller to resolve the issue as part of the offer.  At the same time, an inspection can help sellers identify problems that could cause issues if found out after closing. 


Building Your Home: Custom, Semi-Custom or Production?

When you start thinking about buying a brand-new home, it can sometimes be confusing knowing what kind of home builder you need to hire in order to get the home that best fits your family's needs and budget.  Here's a brief explanation of the types of home builders, and some of the differences in working with each.

Custom home builders

Custom homes are generally single-family homes that are built to the buyer's specifications on land the buyer owns.  A custom home is one-of-a-kind, and won't look like any other home in the neighborhood.

The buyer works closely with the builder and architect to design and construct a home with all the features and elements that they want.  Because of this personalization, custom homes are generally higher-end and take longer to build.  Alterations can be made at any point in the building process, which could cause the total cost to build the home to increase dramatically.  Custom home builders typically build 25 or fewer homes a year.

Semi-custom home builders

Semi-custom home builders build homes based on existing blueprints, but the home buyer is typically able to change the plans prior to construction to conform to their personal preferences.  Once construction has begun, however, there is less flexiblity to make changes.

The home can be built on land the builder or the buyer owns.  Because the home is not being designed from scratch, it often costs less and is completed in a faster timeframe than a full custom home.

Production home builders

Production home builders build a large volume of homes, generally more than 25 and up to hundreds a year.  The homes are built in developments, on land the builder owns.  Many different types of homes are available, including single-family, condominums and townhomes.

Production builders use standard plans, but offer a variety of plan choices and options, such as different floor plans and elevations.  There will likely be mulitple homes in the neighborhood that look similar to each other.

A range of decoration and feature options including flooring, appliances, cabinets, countertops and trim is also often offered.  These options may or may not increase the base home price, but they enable the buyer to pick items that they desire.  However, the builder may or may not offer a selection of options that conform exactly to what the buyer wants.

Production homes are built in a range of price points, so production homes can be found in entry level, move up and luxury price ranges.  The home is generally built in a fast timeframe, since the builder has already obtained the necessary permits for the plans.  However, making alterations to structural elements, such as the foundation walls, will require reengineering the plans and resubmitting them for new permits which could lengthen the completion date.

For more information on types of builders in the Greater Savannah area, contact http://www.homebuildersofsavannah.com/.



Paint Color Trends for 2014

Choosing the right paint color for your new home can sometimes be overwhelming with the great selection and variety that's available.  The National Association of Home Builder's Sales & Marketing Ideas magazine recently shared the top color trends they are seeing in today's model homes as well as newly constructed homes.

  • Gray.  This is a color that can find expression in a wide array of options.  Expect diversity in this new crop of grays, from warm brown-based grays to cooler, more contemporary blue-grays. 
  • Beige.  This perennial neutral is back, carrying gray undertones for warmth and richness.  This taupe with a traditional twist, accented with real linens and cottons.
  • Champagne.  Imagine gold with a bit of transparency.  While decidely sophisticated, champagne plays well with the darker expresso woods.
  • White.  It's the return of white! Far from creating a blank canvas, all white creates a powerful statement.  Balance it with metallic and/or basic black for a sophisticated look.
  • Cobalt.  Think vibrant and jewel-toned.  Expect to see this in family-focused and empty-nester homes.
  • Emerald.  Given its presence in both earth-tone and elegant settings, it is no wonder this green was Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year.  Paired with gray, emerald green speaks to both young and mature buyers.
  • Purple.  Anticipate seeing it in various incarnations from wisteria to aubergine to the most vivid violets.  Use it sparingly for added glamour and excitement.
  • Raspberry.  When purple and red meet at the juice bar, this pick is the order of the day.  It's a vibrant statement solo, and one you'll see combined with grays and taupes.
  • Paprika.  Flip through a current fashion magazine and you'll find dashes of rich, red-orange paprika in abundance.  This tone cuts through visual clutter for exciting interior presence and again is best paired with gray for a contemporary look.
  • Metallics.  We've seen nickle, copper, chrome and gold shine in past seasons.  Moving forward, expect to see these in more muted shades such as the popular oiled bronze.  On the horizon are enameled surfaces, gaining new followings, as well.

Recently, my husband and I visited a friend's new home.  As a local home builder here in Savannah, our friend naturally had a beautifully designed home with a large family room with a fireplace and built-ins, a spacious kitchen with an island that's great for entertaining, and an unbelievable back porch with a built-in grill and wet bar.  But, what struck me most about this lovely home was the interior paint color.  He and his wife had selected "Owl Gray" for their main living area.  It was such a cool clean look, yet very warm and inviting.  It was the first time I'd seen this new shade of gray, but fell in love with it immediately. I can easily see why NHBA magazine named gray one of the top trend colors for 2014.  It made me want to go home and get out a paint brush...it's amazing what a little paint will do for a room.