HOW TO “SIZE UP” A MODEL HOME By Madeline Jacobus If you’re like most new home buyers, you’ve toured a number of model homes around the Valley, and have fallen in love with more than one. Builders today are working harder than ever to give you the home you want, and the excellent selection of styles available is making what used to be a cut-and-dried decision tougher than ever. The floorplan is one of the five key factors to consider when choosing a home. The other four are general location, price, neighborhood and the builder’s reputation. The following tips can help you narrow the field to find the floorplan and overall home plan that’s perfect for you. 1. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Start shopping for your new home with as clear an idea as possible of the type of home you need. Get a good sense of the number of bedrooms and floors you need, and the type of home “format” you’re looking for. 2. HOW DOES THE HOME LIVE? Walk through the models as if you lived there. How are the rooms laid out, and what is the overall feeling you get when inside the home? Think about the mechanics of the house. Will guests sleep next to a noisy washing machine? Is there a space for the children to play? Also think about the feeling of the home. Does it feel like a place you’d be happy in? A good gut-level feeling about a home is as important as everything else. 3. LOOK FOR WASTED SPACE. Most homes are priced on the basis of cost per square foot, so unusable space can add significantly to the cost of a new home. Entry-level and first-time move-up buyers, often sensitive to price, can save by choosing an efficiently-designed floorplan. Telltale signs of wasted space are unusable areas that can’t be furnished, awkward hallways and small rooms that leave you feeling claustrophobic. On the other hand, multi-purpose rooms and open designs can maximize efficiency and make a smaller, more affordably-priced home seem large and roomy. 4. READ THE BLUEPRINT AND TOUR A PRODUCTION HOME. Don’t expect your home to look and feel exactly like the model home. Outfitted with professionally-designed decor and upgraded features, model homes can sometimes seem different than the home you receive. To avoid surprises after you’ve purchased your home, ask your salesperson to let you see the blueprints and tour a production home to learn what the home will look like upon delivery. Under California law, a blueprint for each home must be kept in the sales office, for public viewing when requested. Review the blueprints with your builder to learn about room and window sizes, and other important features. Tour a “production” home, one that has just been completed, to see what a home without the frills looks and feels like. If a home feels right when you see it unadorned, you’ll like it for the long term. 5. WILL YOUR FURNITURE WORK? If you will need to move your existing furniture into your new home, the blueprint can give you exact room sizes to see how well your furniture will fit. Computer programs now available allow you to plug in room and furniture sizes and try different arrangements. 6. TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BUILD YOUR HOME. What you see when you tour a home is only about half of what you’re paying for. The rest is hidden in the plumbing, foundation, insulation, and other unseen features. Ask the sales representative to introduce you to the construction team. They can tell you about the materials and construction processes they used building in your home, and the quality of the home, inside and out. Taking the time up front to compare homes on a detailed level can make all the difference. A complete understanding of your floorplan helps guarantee you make the best overall choice, and ultimately the best investment decision. In addition, you’ll have the confidence that comes from knowing you’ve moved into the right home — for all the right reasons.