Should I buy a new construction home in a new community

November 4, 2019

We are seriously considering purchasing a new construction home in a community in the first stages of development of about 122 homes. The land behind the home is also being cleared and prepped for another new community by another home builder. We are a family of 4 and I stay at home with my son and will be a stay at home mom for the next 2 years. It seems if we decide to purchase new construction, we will be surrounded by new construction noises and everything else that comes with it 5 days a week all day long for the next 2 years. Does anyone have experience with this? How live-able would it be surrounded by construction nearly every day for the next 2 years?

Comments (28)

  • K R

    My first home was done and we moved in about 1/2 way through the completion of the neighborhood. It was done about a year after we moved in and I had a newborn at the time. I had a couple nails in our tires, and it was messy a lot, lots of dirt everywhere, I always remembered that when I would take my daughter out in her stroller, but as far as noise that wasn’t an issue. They really only work from 8-5 M-F and if on Saturdays not even that many hours. You have little kids so you’re used to not sleeping in past 8am. Lol

  • patriceny

    You couldn't pay me enough to do it.

    I get the appeal of living in a new home. But having to live in an active construction zone for who knows how long? Not a chance in heck for me.

    The noise, the digging, the roads, the infrastructure, the mud, the debris blowing around when it gets windy, the workers coming and going, the semis bringing in new supplies - not to mention having to wonder if the economy is going to tank and new home sales plummet so they abandon the new development before it's even close to done...

    Nope. :-/

    I was shopping for a new home just about 3 years ago now. We bought in an area that is exploding with new developments. I would have loved to buy something shiny and new. But there's not a snowballs chance in heck I'm buying one of the first homes built - and that's even before even taking into account there is a whole other new separate development going in just behind the first one.

    Then add to that you're a stay at home mom, so you will literally never. get. a. break from it?


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  • ljk1

    The only reason I would build in a new development is to get the ideal lot.

  • chispa

    Buying existing doesn't mean you are safe from on going construction! My established older neighborhood and town, sees a lot of major remodels or complete tear downs, so there has been major construction for the last 8 years, ours included.

  • PRO

    There is constant remodeling going on in my 70+ yr old neighborhood, but no bulldozers and no mud on streets etc. I would not be happy living in a construction zone for several years to come. The mud/dried mud in the streets alone is enough to turn me off to such.

  • A Fox

    I would first judge what the development looks like under construction right now, as some developers and builders will be better at maintaining cleanliness than others. If the houses on either side of you are already constructed, that will also help give you some buffer from noises, dirt, and construction workers. I'd be most concerned with the land behind the home, because if they are just starting, the land clearing, grading (dirt moving) streets, utilities, etc will be some of the noisiest and dirtiest work that you will have to live through...and it will be in your backyard.

  • chocolatesnap

    Our neighborhood was built on a drained lakeshore/swamp. The neighbors here from the beginning still shudder to speak of the inundation of displaced frogs and snakes they dealt with for years. Glad I missed that :)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    There are so many factors involved that only you can answer your question. If the location and price are that right, but the house and move in in two years.

  • cpartist

    So the real question is if you have to sell in the next 5-7 years for what you pay for new construction, will you get your money back? The answer is most likely no because there are 100 other new houses people can buy plus how many from the other developer?

    And is there more open land that is nearby not being developed now?

    You would probably be better off buying an older home in an established neighborhood

  • remodeling1840

    We were the sixth or seventh family in what would become a 63 home subdivision. Our six year old loved the piles of dirt for his cars and dump trucks. We talked about the progress and how all the houses were constructed. The street and sidewalks were completed before we moved in so strollers and training wheels were king!

  • One Devoted Dame

    Yep. Done it twice. Will do it again if my husband asks it of me. :-D (Hopefully, next time will be custom, though!) We have several children, and the second time we built a tract home, we had a newborn and toddler, in addition to the others. It's harder with littles.

    I actually find neighbors' dogs barking more annoying than construction machinery noise. The workers are there from 6am to 4pm. The dogs are there 24/7, but for some reason, prefer the hours of 10pm to 3am. There are *a lot* of noisy dogs in my neighborhood. I'm the worst critic, because I've owned several of the lovable beasts myself, and currently have a rather large one. <3

    The biggest construction-related annoyances for me are the tire-puncturing (and shoe-puncturing) debris, like nails, and trash, like Cheetos bags and apple cores, littering the landscaped areas as well as the sidewalks and streets. Stuff blows onto my property all the time; my subdivision is fairly large and has been under construction for at least 4 years. My section alone has taken longer than 2 years, but we're almost done, so I finally won't have workers flying down the road (they always seem to drive faster than the residents).

    Another downside is that the current trend (at least in my neighborhood) is for folks to buy at the very upper end of what they can afford -- instead of what they can more comfortably afford -- and then have little or no money left for basic maintenance and repairs (especially for fences; we get some pretty serious storms), landscaping, etc.

    My husband and I set our "budget" at what current comparable sales were, of *existing* homes, NOT new builds, so that we didn't overbuild for the neighborhood, in case we had to sell sooner than we expected. We are also comfortable in our mortgage, so that we can go crazy with landscaping, both front and back: hardscape, gardening, trees, perennials, etc. The only downside to DIYing my "new" yard is that the soil is so compacted (we have heavy black clay, mixed with construction debris/trash like pvc pipe sections, broken bricks, etc.; they just laid the sod over the junk), so I'm amending quite a bit. And this is after waiting 2 years for the various layers of mulch to break down and do some of the amending for me.

    Oh! If you decide to buy in a new neighborhood, be very selective of your lot. Pick a floor plan that allows southern exposure (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) to your kitchen, dining, and living/family rooms, and then pick a lot that accommodates the house. :-)

    Okay, I think I'm done now, lol!

  • functionthenlook

    You should check with the township on what are the hours the builder can make noise. My township is 7am to 9 PM Monday thru Saturday.

  • shead

    So many factors. I've always heard the rule of thumb is to buy the least expensive house in the most desirable neighborhoods for the best long-term resale value. cpartist gave some sage advice.

  • keith Dcil

    As far as an investment, buying in a new community is a gamble over buying in an established community. I know people who bought a "luxury" home at the early stages of a development & the developer switched to lower priced "budget" homes in later phases. However as far as lifestyle, new communities tend to attract young families and can offer an unmatched community of similarly situated neighbors.

  • kudzu9

    How close are you to where all the trucks will be going in and out all day? A friend of mine had a nice property that she lived quietly on for over thirty years until her neighbor sold his 20 acre lot to a developer. The permanent access road to the development was built at the edge of her property, and soon the cement trucks were roaring past starting at 7 in the morning, to say nothing of all the trades people going in and out all day, and the periodic materials deliveries. After she kept complaining, they finally installed a 12' high temporary wooden fence...which provided visual blocking but didn't do much to abate the noise from the traffic and all the construction noise. Any time I visited her during daylight hours the noise was distracting, and it lasted about 2 years. That would have driven me crazy.

  • einportlandor

    I moved into a new development (600 homes) when it was about 3/4 complete but the developer was in a hurry to finish it off so construction only lasted about a year. I found the ongoing construction annoying at times but not awful.

    IMO it can be a good deal IF you get a great lot at a good price and are planning to stay in the house for quite a few years. Sometimes developers will offer discounts or incentives for those first few homes. OTOH, if it's a starter home and there is a lot of construction nearby, it's very difficult to sell. Most people would prefer a brand new house with a warranty over a three year old house with a few dings and stains. In my subdivision, resale required a big discount on the selling price until the entire area (not just the subdivision) was built out and sold.

  • David Cary

    I've been the first house on a road of 30 (a circle and I was near the end but not right on it - you could drive both directions) with building behind in a second phase. I was working and no kids.

    It wasn't bad. I made money selling 4 years later.

    I got one flat tire.

    Our area has 7am -9pm rules for noise - 7 days a week. Sometimes it is broken. I think I called the police once - mostly interior painters but they were playing music - open windows. I have called the police on the neighbor's dog in an established neighborhood - so you are never immune. Trucks did arrive and idle at 6:30-7 am which was annoying. Idled because they weren't allowed to work until 7 so they sat in their trucks. This is often illegal but not sure about that jurisdiction.

    I would do it again if I had young kids.

  • opaone

    From a financial standpoint there's no way I would do that. Suburban homes in the U.S. begin to loose value after about 10 years and can see significant loss after 15-30 years.

    Traditionally there are three things that drive this - construction quality, style and neighborhood decline. U.S. houses today are built to last about 70-90 years, maybe a bit more, so the value will decline to $0 at that point. They also require a lot of maintenance to last even that long (especially compared to houses in other developed countries built to higher standards).

    Our styles change. People today want 2019 style houses, not 2005 style houses so if you built a house in 2005 and are trying to sell it today then it is, from a style standpoint, not appealing to most buyers.

    As our suburban neighborhoods age (older style, structures closer to end of life) the value slowly declines. Around year 15 the people buying in to the neighborhood are a step lower in economic terms than the original buyers. They often don't take as good of care of their homes and yards and may have older model cars. Overall the neighborhood is declining. Very slightly but noticeable to buyers. This puts further downward pressure on home prices.

    There's a new bit added in today in that an increasing number of buyers want to live where they can safely and comfortably walk or bicycle to school, grocery, dinner, or elsewhere. This trend is expected to continue for several decades. They don't want to have to drive everywhere and ideally they'd like to have only one car instead of two. There are extremely few suburbs built for this so they are choosing to live in core cities or in the very few suburbs that are walkable and bikeable. This is putting even greater downward pressure on most suburban developments.

  • kudzu9


    Not sure where you live, but those economics don't apply in most of the areas I'm familiar with. One of my daughters has seen the market value of her 1930's home increase by about $500K in the last 5 years. Another daughter just bought a 75 year old house -- that has not been remodeled --- for more than ten times it's original cost...and it was a bargain. My first house was a 1950's suburban rambler that I bought for $45K in 1974, did some remodeling to, and sold for over $700K 15 years ago; the buyer started an update, but decided to sell 5 years after that for $1.3 million, even though parts of the remodel were only half done. My neighbor across the fence paid about $400K for a 1960's split level 8 years ago. He has done nothing to it other than paint the exterior, and expects to be able to sell it soon for at least twice what he paid.

    Some people do want new houses, but many people prefer the charm and building material quality of older homes. As long as they have been maintained, older home values keep increasing over the long term. I have been through more than one market cycle where my home lost value on paper, but it's always more than recovered. In fact, I've always lived in the suburbs and have done much better with buying and selling homes than any other thing I've invested money in.

    I'm sure some suburbs decline, but, in areas with decent economies, suburban homes still increase in price as young people are priced out of the urban market. They seek out these homes as their longer commutes make them less expensive than a similar house close in. The lower suburban price doesn't mean the houses are falling apart.

    I agree with you on the trend for people to want things close by and not have to drive as much, but those types of communities and infrastructure are starting to be built where I live by savvy developers who have figured out where our aging demographics are taking us. And these types of projects, while they may not have all the amenities of living right downtown, do offer an alternative to the grittier aspects of big city urban life. In fact, we have good friends who just sold their beautiful downtown condo with spectacular views to get away from noise and panhandling, and move to a home in a nearby suburb where many things are no longer within waking distance, but the living environment is more pleasant.

  • opaone

    Kudzu, your daughters' experience is completely in line with our data. The discussion and my comments were regarding new homes in new suburban developments. Houses and neighborhoods pre about 1960 are generally a good buy.

  • David Cary

    Opaone - your comment about $0 is where you show some level of ignorance or hyperbole. No home is worth $0 assuming there isn't some liability - like unpaid taxes. There is something under the house called land.

    I just checked on my old hood. Suburban in a modest COLA with modest housing inflation.

    Built 1999. Cost about $220k and currently contingent at $369k. Production home built by Sunstar at the time - bought by Lennar I believe.

    So - I am sure that people would prefer a 2019 house. My quick look for a comparable (sqft and zip) found new at $424k.

    Sounds completely rational to me. People prefer a new house and it is valued 20% above a 20 year old house.

    Neither house has a walkable grocery store or coffee shop. In my area, that would be $800k. Not affordable for most and frankly not worth it for most.

    I agree that the $800k suburban market is potentially a problem. Strangely I sold a 825k house last year in a 15 year old development. Our custom build that was slightly above the hood - we made a bit of money but not fantastic. Our neighbor sold the most overbuilt for the hood at $1M last month. He lost money but people are still buying.

    All RE (like politics) is local. We have no idea the market near the OP's house.

  • A Fox

    I think you are definitely both speaking truths. I have most certainly seen newer houses sell for 80% of what it cost to build them 19-15 years after construction. This is especially true in neighborhoods that stalled during the recession, thus there are still lots for new houses to be built. An existing house of similar finishes, but where all of those finishes and the systems are now over a decade old, can't compete on level with new construction. I disagree that a house will eventually devalue to zero though. It's hard to tell exactly what will happen to today's construction, but I have observed that houses level out around 30 years, assuming that they are well maintained and that things are replaced after they wear out. And for vintage and historic properties in original condition they often can command a price above the average market value because they appeal to a particular buyer.

  • opaone

    @David, you are correct about land value. I was referring to structure value. Should have made that more clear. Last year in the Twin Cities metro for instance there were an estimated 320 properties sold as tear-downs which are effectively $0 value structures.

    Your anecdotal example is actually not bad. That's just under 3% annual appreciation which if there was no major remodeling or maintenance expense is quite good for a house built in 1999.

  • kudzu9

    I also want to point out that, while many people want new houses, unless you are building a custom home, the quality of materials and construction these days is often not what it was in years past. That is one the reasons knowledgeable buyers see value in a lot of older homes. I recently had a chance to visit the rather humble house I grew up in during the '50s and '60s : its plaster walls, inlaid oak floors, solid core doors, and built-in oak cabinetry were still in remarkable condition. And the first house I myself owned (built in 1952), was an average house for the times but had many quality touches, and the materials used were first rate. When I remodeled and would open up the walls, for example, I would save the 2X4s since they were beautiful first growth fir with no knots that I used for cabinetry projects. The house had oak parquet floors, solid wood paneling of a size that I have never seen elsewhere, and leaded glass windows in the kitchen. And this was in a garden variety rambler of the times for that area. I later converted all the windows to thermopane, and increase the insulation, but the house was otherwise so well built and the building materials were such that it required a lower level of maintenance. In such cases, savvy buyers recognize that older can be better.

  • David Cary

    We did a tear down last year so I get your point. With a large but...

    What is the 10 year average of teardowns? - probably closer to 100. In a market of 100,000 homes? So by simple math (that I totally get is inaccurate), that would be 1 in a 1,000 homes for a life expectancy of 1000 years.

    Also, teardowns happen not just because a structure is worthless. No. They happen because the area has moved upscale and the value of the land is worth more to a new home builder than the structure is. This is not repeatable in the suburbs - at least according to my crystal ball.

    I would expect the vast majority of tear downs in your area are in very central locations where people are building $1M+ houses. The land has skyrocketed in value and drawfs the structure value.

  • K R

    The OP asked about noise levels and such, not about new home depreciation or quality of new home construction. This went way off topic.

  • nikness30

    In terms of inconvenience or discomfort for a stay at home parent—have you considered the potential lack of community during the first couple of years? I’m not a stay at home parent, but I know that our neighbors who are have really enjoyed and appreciated having other families around the neighborhood during the day, for play dates or just company without having to load the kids in the car to drive someplace. You can also assume that other families with kids will move in eventually but won’t know until later.

  • David Cary

    How fast is this hood going up? In my area, with production builders, they go fast. So a typical 100 unit development is 2-3 years in the making. So if you aren't very first, you have neighbors right away and a decent community within a year. They understand that people don't want to be around construction and they want to make their money and get out.

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