Building companies build showhomes to showcase the quality and design features you can expect from them, and to inspire you with ideas you might not have thought of yet.
As a homebuyer, visiting a showhome isn’t just about price comparisons and deciding who you want to build with, it’s an opportunity to create your wish list. Interiors magazines and social media are a great source of inspiration but there’s nothing quite like standing in a real home to understand exactly what you do and don’t want.
The more planning and decision-making you do in the early stages, the smoother your building experience will be, and the more likely you are to get your dream home.
Here are our top five tips to get the most out of your visit to a showhome:
1. ASK QUESTIONS
There will always be a company representative at the showhome, and it’s their job to answer all your questions. From big (How long does the build take, between signing the contract and moving in?) to little (Can I have that exact bathroom tap?), don’t be shy about asking as many questions as you need to.
- Ask about the cost of the showhome, including upgrades and extras. Most showhomes have special features that add to the build cost of a standard home.
- What’s not included?
- Initial outgoings and ongoing costs?
- Who made the kitchen cabinetry?
- If the showhome is in a housing development, ask about local services and facilities. How far is it to the school? Where is the public transport? How accessible is the motorway? Are there shared green spaces?
- How flexible is the floor plan? What changes could you make without affecting the cost?
- What is the deposit required?
- What is the length of time between signing the contract and receiving the keys? Most take around 9 months, but it’s an important factor in your planning.
- What guarantees is the new home covered by?
2. TAKE PHOTOS
See something you like? Take photos and keep a record from each showhome you visit. Although it’s fun to be inspired by soft furnishings and the ‘pretty stuff’, take note of big ticket items such as the roof, cladding, window frames, kitchen positioning and cabinetry, heating options and general layout. These are important decisions that will impact the permanent look, feel and functionality of your new home.
3. MAKE A LIST OF MUST-HAVES
When building new, you have the luxury of future-proofing your home and a showhome can help you see your options. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? One storey or two? Butler’s pantry? Separate living space for teenage children? Underfloor heating in the bathroom? Indoor outdoor flow with a covered patio? Smart home options? Make a list of the things you won’t compromise on so that they can be factored into your budget early on.
4. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
You may be certain you want a two-storey gabled home with wooden floors and all the bedrooms upstairs, but then you walk into the perfect single-storey pavilion-style showhome and everything changes.
Good showhomes make use of cutting edge design and the latest features before they reach the general market, so chances are you will see things you haven't seen before. Keep an open mind, and if you do a 180 after falling in love with something completely different, be thankful it happened now and not after you’d signed on the dotted line.
5. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE!
What looks like a generous bedroom in photos can turn out to be pokey and cramped in person. Likewise, it can be difficult to imagine shared living spaces from a house plan. A tape measure is a great tool to take with you and don't be shy about using it.
If you find the perfect master bedroom or living room in a showhome, measure it and sketch the layout so you know what you’re looking for. Take note of bathroom and ensuite sizes, especially details such as the shower space. How big is your ideal wardrobe? What size is the patio? How big is the front door? If you see details you love, measure them and write down the specs. Reading house plans is so much easier when you know what you’re looking for.
If you have a favourite piece of furniture that will be part of your new home, measure it before you go and check that it will fit. Sideboards, Super King beds, dining tables and pianos can take up a lot of room, and it’s better to know now that they won’t fit, rather than on move-in day.
Every week, thousands of kiwis visit showhomes around the country. With a little know-how, the visit can be a really useful part of your new home planning.
Signature Homes has a number of beautiful showhomes available to view around the country. Click here for more information.