Build a new home step-by-step

Build a new home step-by-step

There’s no question that new construction has become not only a popular road to home ownership but also a necessary part of expanding Rochester and surrounding communities. Owning a new home is an exciting opportunity that some pass up because they’re intimidated by so many moving parts and decisions to make. Here is a closer look into the new construction process.

Meet with your lender

There may be some cost savings available to you if you carry your own construction loan. Talk to your lender about your options and ask if they have any special products specifically for new construction buyers.

Interview builders

Ask your Realtor, friends, and family for references and make sure the builders you’re interviewing are licensed. You should ask each builder about their timeline; specifically how long it will take them to complete your new home. Asking if you can design your own plan or if you have to use theirs is important, along with what sub-contractors they use - you usually do not have a choice in which sub-contractors are used once you’ve committed to a builder. Ask to see their past work and past client testimonials. Most people are very proud and willing to speak about their new build; if you get kickback on this request, it could be a red flag.

Find a lot

The Rochester Area Builders Association has a very comprehensive list on their website of available lots that is updated quite frequently.

It’s important when you’re looking for lots to consider the type of home you’d like to build. Certain types of homes require a specific type of lot and sometimes a particular lot cannot accommodate a certain type of home. For instance if you would like to build a home with a walkout basement you’ll need a lot with a steep enough grade to accommodate that type of foundation. If your budget is tight you’ll want to carefully consider how much excavation work the lot will require to even begin construction on the building.


Research the neighborhood covenants, rules, and regulations that are associated with this lot. Some neighborhoods will have square footage requirements, architectural committees, no fence policies, or rules against outbuildings just to name a few. This is very important to research, so you know any limitations you may encounter on future projects you might want to do.

Driving around desired neighborhoods. If you see a vacant lot without a for sale sign do not enter onto the property to explore. If you see neighbors outside ask them if they know the owner and if they’d be willing to share their contact information with you.

Rely on your Realtor to find lots for you. If you have already found a vacant lot but cannot find the owner, alert your Realtor. They will likely be able to find the owner of any vacant land within minutes.

Finalize plans, specs, and allowances.

The builder should provide a detailed spec sheet outlining every detail of the home, floor plan, how it’s constructed, what materials are to be used, and what’s included in the purchase price. Allowances are a big part of the spec sheet. They outline how much out of your total purchase price you can spend on certain areas of the home. It’s a mini budget for each category including but not limited to: lighting, counter tops, flooring, and cabinets.

Once you have your allowances set with the builder you’ll be able to write up your offer and go shopping for interior finishes like flooring, counter tops, and tile, (more on that later). It’s important to have these allowances crystal clear and signed off on prior to writing your offer. It’s very common to go over budget on allowances but it should never be a surprise to you as to how much you’ve gone over. Make sure to fill out a work change order form each time you’ve gone over the allowances and have all parties sign off on it prior to any order of materials or install is scheduled.

Write your offer

A licensed real estate agent can help you write up the new construction contract. This will include the terms of purchasing the lot and the building. Terms will vary based on your situation and you should consult with a licensed real estate agent to complete this step. A few of the things you’ll need to outline are:

  • Earnest Money/down payment amount and who holds it.
  • Financing vehicle and terms.
  • How you’ll handle modifications/change orders.
  • Contracts can get complicated and that’s all the more reason to have a licensed professional to explain it thoroughly and negotiate these terms on your behalf.

Go shopping

Yay! Your offer has been accepted and your builder is busy pulling necessary permits with the city before they can begin construction. Idle time in the new construction process is costly so you shouldn’t sit back and relax during this time. Get out to the preferred vendors that your builder or agent has recommended to you and start making your interior finish selections. Take photos, write down prices and item numbers, and ask for samples. Make your final decisions as quickly as you can and communicate those to your agent and builder.

Construction begins

Before we get into the process of construction it is important to note that any changes that you request afterthe construction has begun will most definitely delay your closing date and potentially add to your purchase price. Make sure that you’ve made up your mind regarding floor plans, window and wall placement, and interior finishes prior to the start of construction. It is imperative to keep in close contact with the builder and your agent during the process to make any changes known or catch mistakes early!


What To Read Next
Get Local