Purchasing a new build lets you ‘indulge your personal tastes’

By Tracy Hanes, Special to the Star

The benefits of buying a new home

When Paul Lamoureux and his girlfriend Amy Fudge began looking for their first home, they started by checking out resale houses in Oshawa, Ont., where their parents lived.

“All of the houses we could afford have something wrong with them,” says Lamoureux, 24, pointing out a common problem with many resale homes: They need expensive repairs or updating.

Instead, the couple decided to buy a new three-bedroom house on a 30-foot lot in Clarington, Ont. One of the key factors was that they could put less money down than they could for a resale home. They also got a better financing rate offered by the builder and had a longer time to save as they waited for the house to be built.

“A priority for us was having a detached home and a garage,” says Lamoureux. They also chose a lot on a quiet street backing onto a future park. “This is a house we can grow into and will be large enough for a family, so we won’t have to move when we have kids.”

At $300,000 (including upgrades), it was slightly pricier than the resale homes they had seen, but there is no updating or renovating required.

“The other thing, beyond the expense, was finding the time to do the work an older house needed,” says Lamoureux, who is a conductor for Canadian Pacific Railway. “I’m working all the time and Amy is working two jobs. In this new house, I can tackle little projects that only take a few hours, instead of major projects that would take days or weeks.”

“The way I put it is, when you buy new, you buy for you,” says Joe Vaccaro, acting president for the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and chief operating officer for the Ontario Home Builders’ Association. “You have the ability to customize, choose the finishes, paint colours, features, landscaping. It’s all about you and what you want – unlike resale, which is someone else’s vision and project. You can indulge your personal tastes and that is a great advantage.”

That appealed to Lamoureux and Fudge. “We liked getting to pick out the finishes, but you could get carried away with upgrades. Another nice thing about buying new was being able to see it come through all the stages of construction.”

Vaccaro says another advantage of buying new in Ontario is the seven-year Tarion New Home Warranty. (New homeowner protection varies by province.)

Lamoureux has had a few issues with his house, such as un-insulated gaps around some window frames, which he’ll fix himself, and a crack in a basement wall that caused leaking. Although it was filled from the inside (which fulfills the Tarion warranty), Lamoureux believes it should have also been addressed from the exterior.

Vaccaro says buyers can research a builder’s track record through the Tarion website, by talking to the municipality and by checking J.D. Power & Associates ratings.

“With new homes, you are able to get your hands on data about the builder, while you’ll have challenges on the resale side finding that information.”

Vaccaro says more thought and details are going into creating master-planned communities, with attractive streetscapes and features such as walking trails, ponds, parks, and schools. He says new homes tend to hold their value just as well as older homes.

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