Finding a High Quality Home

Home Buying Season is in full swing and eager buyers are out touring new homes in Austin. But when it comes time to compare similar looking homes in similar locations, the most important features may not be so apparent.

Once you’ve settled on a specific neighborhood or area, it’s important to begin comparing the construction standards and features available from each of the homebuilders in that area. We have offered up a list of the most important features you should ask about to ensure the home you’re looking at is a keeper.

The Foundation

First, find out what kind of foundation the homes have. The soil in Central Texas is notorious for causing shifting and cracking in home foundations, which leads to sloping floors, cracked walls and sticky windows and doors.

The Roof

The second most important part of a home after the foundation is the roof. Poorly framed roofs can lead to leaking and buckling on the outside, as well as cracking and nails that push through ceilings on the inside. While many volume builders use pre-fabricated roof trusses, a little extra effort can ensure a much more stable and secure roof.

The Framing

The way a new home is framed also plays an important role in the overall stability and character of its construction. Buffington’s homes feature fully engineered, wind-braced frames. The extra bracing prevents the home from racking or twisting in higher winds, where even the slightest movement can lead to cracking walls and stuck doors or windows. The interior and exterior of these walls are wrapped in heavy-duty, half-inch OSB board, further preventing movement and also adding an extra layer of noise insulation. Additionally, all structural beams are sized by an engineer for proper load ratings, protecting against beams that are too small (and unstable) or too big (and unnecessarily expensive).

The Flooring

Many buyers are concerned with the floor coverings in a new home, but what’s underneath them can be even more important. To cut costs, many builders use pre-fabricated I-joists to build their floors, which can lead to floors that bounce and squeak. But Buffington’s floors are built with 16-inch-deep trusses, the deepest flooring support. The trusses are spaced 24 inches apart throughout the home, with just 16 inches of space master bedrooms and game rooms where the loads are typically heavier. On top of that, the homes feature three-quarter-inch tongue-and-groove sub-floors that are secured with screws and industrial adhesive, ensuring against squeaking, bouncing and those annoying nails that can stick up beneath floor coverings. Deeper floors and heavier sub-flooring also add extra noise insulation between floors.

Interior Walls

When it comes to framing the interior walls, builders can cut costs by cutting back on materials and labor. Many builders frame interior walls with studs spaced 24-inches apart where the code permits, but some builders use 16-inch centers throughout. The closer spacing adds stability and further protects against cracking and shifting as the home ages. They also secure all sheetrock with screws instead of nails, preventing against nails that can push through walls and ceilings over time.

Inspections

Throughout this entire building process, your builder should require four separate, independent inspections on the structure of the home. With two separate inspections on the foundation, one at the framing stage and one final inspection when the home is complete.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that volume builders can cut corners and save money at the homeowner’s expense. A little hard work during construction can virtually eliminate the daily maintenance that many homebuyers find themselves stuck with in a new home.