Tuesday, July 19, 2022

One Year in the New House

It's been a little more than a year since I closed on the house. This was a custom-ish new build through a national, publicly traded homebuilder and a very different experience than my first home purchase (which was a new build with a boutique builder). I could write a novel on the experience, but want to start by jotting down some summary notes.
  • Why move when I loved my first house? 
    • My first house was centrally located in a desirable neighborhood, but small enough that it had only one garage space. FiancĂ© wanted a four (!) car garage so we could each have a parking space and he could have room for projects. To achieve that in the neighborhood where my first house was located, we would have been looking at a price tag >$2MM, likely $3MM (which was not doable).
  • What do I miss about my old house? 
    • The central location and smaller size of the house. Keeping up with chores and errands was a relative breeze when everything I needed (outside the house) was nearby and the spaces I needed to keep clean and organized were small and manageable. 
    • The excellent build quality. When I sold my old house, the buyer's inspector wasn't able to identify a single required repair. I get some credit for being a good steward of the house, but the lion's share of the credit goes to my builder. I didn't know just how good my experience with him had been until I started working with the national builder on construction of the new build.
  • What do I like about the new house?
    • Quiet neighborhood.
    • I have an office! (I spent most of COVID working at the kitchen table in the old house.)
    • Locked in pricing just before construction prices soared.
    • Locked in a sweet mortgage rate of 2.1%.
    • Friendly neighbors.
  • What do I dislike about the new house?
    • Poor process management and customer service provided by national builder. There is an extraordinary amount to say on this topic, but in short, building this house has been the worst customer experience of my lifetime. At every stage--from the sales process to the warranty process--I have been shocked by poor performance of the builder. Of course, COVID delays made the build challenging, but COVID isn't an excuse for massive communication failures as between the builder and its prospective homeowners. More than a year post-closing we have approximately 50 open warranty items.
    • Remote location. We traded location for a larger house, which seemed like a good idea because I was pregnant at the time that I signed the purchase contract. But then I miscarried and being in a big/mostly empty house in a very suburban neighborhood surrounded by families with children and retirees (when we are neither of those things) has been a bit tough on the psyche.
As I wrap up the warranty process with the builder, I hope my memories of the build process and first few months in the house (when we had neither a refrigerator nor couch) fade and I enjoy living here more and more. This house is beautiful, but I've often wished I had just stayed put in the old house.