Need advice on handling builders

graceyspaceyMarch 25, 2012


I've been reading and learning a lot on this forum. We are building our first home. Its a community where you choose the model of the home and the build it. The builders claim to be semi custom. I have gone to the design center plenty of times and did not like the kitchen at all even with the upgrades so we decided to remodel the kitchen from the start. I tried asking the realtor who is managing the sales if we are able to be credited for the cabinets and appliances that they're placing on the house since we're not going to be able to use it. I feel like its a waste that they're going to put these things up and to be tear down right away to build our dream kitchen. The realtor came back saying that the builder is not able to "delete" the cabinets and appliances ~ which doesn't make sense to me. I don't really now how to handle putting pressure on the builder asking to credit us for the kitchen stuff instead of having extra kitchen appliances.. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks so much in advance

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You won't win with these large tract builders. My parents have done this twice and they chose the cheapest option and then ripped them out once they closed and before they moved in. They never ripped out a kitchen ... mostly bathroom tile floors and glued on large bathroom mirrors.

You could sell or donate the cabinets and appliances, but it will all cost you more money.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 1:43PM
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It might not be in the realtor's best interest to help you with this. If the house cost less the realtor gets less. Does the realtor knows that you'll buy no matter what?
Did you sign a contract already? What does the contract say? If not, I'll take my chances saying that I am not buying - and see what happens.
If you have a contract - talk to the builder directly. You can always negociate the kitchen asking for appliance upgrade or flooring. Do not let them take advantage of you.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 1:51PM
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I gave you some suggestions on your other posting.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 3:01PM
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We built a Ryland house in NC a long, long time ago and wanted to upgrade the carpet beyond their top upgrade. We were under contract and there was no way to get what we wanted. Ultimately we did as chispa above described - we had the carpet that "came" with the house installed, passed the house inspection, took possession, and had the cheap carpet ripped out the next day.

As I am thinking about it, I was able to manage a change in the tile floors by talking directly to the retailer they sent us to, but I am not sure this worked for others in the neighborhood.

Good luck on your build!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:02PM
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If it's included in your contract than the builder cannot just delete it and give you credit for it. First of all, you can't get a CO without a kitchen, so the house can't be finished without it. If you want to rip it out later, that's your business, but it's not something you can actually do until you actually own the house.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:16PM
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If this is your first experience with them, think about how the next several months will go.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 9:07PM
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I'm no expert by any means but we have gone thru the samething you described, but we are a little further along in the process than you are. Listed below are my few points I think you should consider before sigining with a builder:

1. DO NOT sign on the dotted line until you have all of your questions answered as far layout, desings, electrical placment, etc.

Usually with these type of builders they do have model homes and when you go thru, have their sales rep point out everything that is an upgrade/custom and you will see with most model homes everything in them is at an additional cost.

2. Know what the included features and get them in writing. You will be suprised how they can vary from one builder to the next.

For exapmle, of the builders we looked at some didn't include any appliances at all while some included all ss appliances. Of course these will be builder grade appliances so if you were looking for something highend you would have to buy these over anyways. Other things like structured wiring, ceiling fans prewired for all rooms, etc were included and some builders didn't come with any lights in the room.

3. Get any prices not considered standard for anything you would like they consider semi/or custom.

My builder was happy to answer these questions before we signed our contract but as soon as we signed, they came up with this mysterious fee of $100 per quote on optional features(which you could ask for pricing on one thing) & $500 per quote on anything that was structual. Now the kicker was you had to write a check upfront and if you didn't choose to get the feature not knowing what they would quote you, you would loose your money. Kinda silly to me that they wanted to charge me money to get a price so I could spend more money. OK, maybe its me but just sounds crazy to me.

Right now because you haven't signed you have your best bargaining power but once you sign on the dotted line it is over for you. They have your deposit and won't be to willing to work with you.

4. Once you get all of questions from above answered from a number of builders, dont be afraid to let them know what the other builder is offering. Real estate market may be picking up now but it is by no means great so they all do want your business.

5. Don't be afraid to walk away, as #4 stated there are builders out there who are willing to work with you.

6. Check with some custom builders as well. We honestly heard the word "custom" and figured it would be out of our budget but we did some checking of late just to see and honestly we could made some sacrafices here and there and gone with a custom builder as well.

Our builder doesn't build bad house(actually builds a pretty good house) but the communication is just outright awful. All I can is if it wasn't for the location we we wanted (small subdivision with 15 house on a cul de sac that can't be added on to), we probaly would have gone with another...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 11:17PM
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Don't sign anything until you get what you want. It is a large purchase. Get what you want.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:12AM
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Change order process is written into the contract. IF the process only provides for builder approved choices, then you are out of luck completely. You have to take one of his choices. If the contract provides for homeowner supplied materials, then you are at risk for providing those materials if you don't own the lot or your bank isn't holding the loan for the build.

If your bank is providing the construction loan and you already own the lot, then there should have been a provision in the contract for change order for customer supplied goods. Now, it will always involve a fee to do that on top of the increased cost of the materials and you will have to purchase the materials up front out of pocket outside of the loan, plus pay the change fee, plus the fee for any increased labor due to the increased complexity of the design.

You stand a much greater chance of actually getting what you want in a build if you spec things on the front end and make them part of the contract. Of course, that will increase the home's cost without really increasing the amount it will appraise for, so you are talking more up front money and probably back end money to bring to the build.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Get everything in writing before you sign the contract. Not familiar with builders today, but years ago where we lived the majority of builders were very good about upgrading appliances..Went thru models, and signs were all over this is what the builder will use, if you want upgrades, contact xxxx and they would upgrade--in writing with prices listed. You could pay outside the contract, and get some credit for builder's suggestions. So different now, I cannot believe it. At that time no agents, or very few, but they were usually members of the builders business. No commissions, just good salaries, and they knew their stuff.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:03PM
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thanks for all the responses.. I really appreaciate it!!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 2:45PM
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We considered buying a home in a housing development, and priced out all the options, and did quite a bit of research before making a decision. We nearly went for it, but at the last minute a great piece of property came up and we decide to go totally custom.

That said, the builder we were considering would not, under any circumstances allow us to delete any of the items included in the base house/cost. For me it was more than just the kitchen options (which I wasn't found of) it was also the flooring as their options were grossly overpriced.

If we would have bought the house we would have taken it with the base flooring and the base kitchen, ripped it out and put in our own touches before moving in. For the cabinets we would have either reused them in the laundry room, garage, or sold them on Craigslist.

Overall, I was really bothered by the builders markups on all upgrades. The cost they had listed for nearly everything was more than what it would cost, and I felt like they were not taking into consideration the cost of what was originally included.

If anyone was curious, this was KB homes who does not have the best track record, however this being California they were $750,000 + homes!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Wasn't KB homes featured on Extreme Home Makeover?

I have had 2 tract homes built. Unfortunately you have to be willing to live with their choices or pay dearly for most upgrade/changes.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:22PM
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