Consider House Locations Before You Build
If you’ve decided to take the exciting step of building a new home for your family, you may also already have a particular neighborhood in mind. If not, choosing the perfect location for your future house will take some research and careful consideration of your lifestyle and priorities.
Home Builder Locations
Some new home developments only work with specific builders, so your choice of home builder might help to determine your location for you. A good place to start, once you have settled on a general geographic area, is to drive through as many neighborhoods as possible. You will quickly get a feeling for the landscape, lot sizes, privacy, types of houses, and whether the neighborhood is family friendly. Do not downplay the importance of getting exactly what you want in your new house and finding a home builder you are comfortable with. With the time and money you will be spending on this long-term investment, try not to become so enamored by a neighborhood’s community pool that you settle for a style or type of new home build that doesn’t quite work for your needs.
Local amenities are an important thing to consider. Yes, there are the pools, fitness centers and other shared recreational facilities offered in some new home developments. But remember to think outside of the immediate housing neighborhood and make a list of all of your family’s regular activites, errands and hobbies. Grocery shopping, a community library, movie theaters, churches, and childrens’ sports and other activities should be close enough that you aren’t spending all of your free time in the car.
Many communities also charge Home Owners Association (HOA) fees. Make sure you know how much each community charges ahead of time and what you get for that fee. Some charge just a little to pay for ongoing landscaping maintenance of a few common areas, others charge upwards of $150 a month to pay for a lot of amenities that not everyone cares for. Once you move in, you must pay that fee every month. If you like a community that does not have common landscape maintenance but you do want yours taken care of, there are lots of companies out there who will contract to take care of your lawn and snow removal a la carte and often cheaper than paying a community management company.
Families with school-aged children rely on local school information a great deal when deciding where to build a new home. Word of mouth referrals are helpful in determining other people’s experience with a school, but you can also check the local public school district’s website for information if you are new to the area or do not yet have school-aged children. If your kids will continue attending a private school elsewhere, make sure to consider transporation issues from neighborhoods you are considering.
Unfortunately, the downside of building in a prime location with lots of amenities can be increased traffic. When looking at potential neighborhoods, try and drive around the area when you would normally be driving to or from work — visiting a new home development only on weekends will give you a very different picture of what your work/school commute will be like.
Friends and Family
It seems obvious to consider your friends and relatives and where they live when you are searching for a neighborhood for your new home project. If you are lucky, your family has close friends who will still be in the same area or neighborhood as your new home. Even if you are moving a little further away, you can narrow your neighborhood search to places in close proximity to major highways that will make it easy to visit grandma. If you welcome a lot of out-of-town guests, then being close to a major airport might be a priority.
But before the fun of house design begins, give the location options a lot of thought. Try and imagine what your family’s needs might be in the future, and focus on little, everyday things that can have a huge impact on your quality of life.