Home Building FAQ's

Does it make more sense to move into an existing home in an established neighborhood, or build a home in a new subdivision? Here is what to consider.

Around the country, there is a home-buying frenzy that is exacerbating the housing shortage and driving up home prices. Boise is far from an exception. But is building a new construction home or buying an existing home right for you and your family? It depends on your needs and financial standing. Here are the differences.

New construction or existing homes: which one is better?

Buying a new construction home


  • New homes are more efficient: Using new appliances and better building materials for roofing, windows, doors, and walls adds up to significant savings over the life of the house. Many of these materials have Energy Star ratings that prove that they are more efficient and better for the environment.
  • Lower maintenance: New things don’t break down. And if they do, they are under warranty and can be replaced for free. In addition, leaky faucets, old paint, old insulation, and other maintenance projects don’t have to be on your radar since everything is brand new.
  • Set purchasing cost: When buying a new construction home, you pay the builder for the cost of the lot and the building materials. This means that if you are quoted $543,000 for the home, that’s what you pay.
  • Customization on the high end: Building a high-end or luxury home allows you to pick nearly every facet of the house: from flooring to countertops, to appliance finishings, to the room shape. This allows you to build a dedicated home office, multipurpose room, and RV garage.
  • Brand new subdivision: Many newly developed subdivisions have amenities to help homeowners have the best experience living there. Parks, pools, clubhouses, sports courts, and ponds are part of the community’s planning and development, and help give residents fun things to do and increase their enjoyment of the subdivision.


  • Little to no customization on the low to mid-end: Building a starter home or some mid-range homes is done mostly by production builders who have set floor plans to choose from. These homes are built in a shorter time period than a fully custom home, but you have much less to customize
  • Housing shortage effects: At this point, building lots are getting reserved and bought as fast as they are getting listed. If you are set on buying a new construction home, be prepared to act as soon as you see a lot in a subdivision you want to live in. If you wait, someone else will get it first.
  • Building timeline: Building a home takes between 8-12 months depending on the size of the house, adverse weather, materials used, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep this in mind when buying new construction. You basically have to buy a home, then wait a year to actually move in and start living in it; versus buying an existing home and moving into it in a few weeks to a month.

Buying an existing home


  • Established subdivisions: Many people like purchasing existing homes because they are in established residential areas. These subdivisions have mature landscaping, are closer to city centers and large employers, and the homes are usually in good condition thanks to HOAs. Many established neighborhoods have seen steady value increases over time, which leads to overall prosperity and homeowner satisfaction.
  • Negotiation: When purchasing an existing home, buyers have the ability to negotiate on the sale price in order to get the best deal possible. The result is getting a well-cared-for house at a comfortable price.
  • More flexible moving timeline: Arranging when you move in can be part of the negotiating process. Giving the sellers more time to move out will help your offer stand out, and it gives you more time to get your affairs in order before moving into your new home. 


  • Negotiation: The converse of negotiating (especially in a hot market like the Boise area<>) is that multiple offers can be put on a house. Usually, with multiple offers, buyers try to outdo the others with escalation clauses, more cash, waiving contingencies, and a variety of other methods to stand out and win the bid. This adds another element of stress to the home-buying process.
  • Housing shortage effects: Due to Boise’s popularity and the housing shortage, homes for sale are bought up quickly. In addition, home-for-sale listings in Ada County in August 2020 were down 64.5% from August 2019 (source) This has driven home prices up sharply, with existing home prices rising the fastest across all price ranges.
  • Maintenance: One thing to keep in mind is the age of the house you are buying. As a home ages, appliances and systems start to break down. Fixing the roof, plumbing, foundation, or wiring is expensive and time-consuming. Be sure to check on these systems with a home inspection.


Buying an existing home versus a new construction home all comes down to your personal preference and familial needs. They each have their pros and cons. Deciding which one to buy takes some soul-searching. If you need help deciding and want to talk about your options in the Boise housing market, call the Build Idaho agents at (208) 219-7683.

What are Spec Homes? What are the advantages of buying a spec home vs existing?

Spec homes may be the new construction home you are looking for.

Take the guesswork out of the home-buying process
When shopping for existing homes for sale, there is a constant give-and-take as each home is different and has unique amenities—some are desirable, others are not. However, spec homes as much uncertainty as possible. Spec home builders design and build these homes without a specific buyer in mind in favor of a more desirable catch-all design with desirable furnishings and amenities that buyers can be happy with. All of these add up to a home that provides a great balance between affordability and a modern living experience. At this point, it is up to the buyers to make the home their own with personal touches and stylings. Many builders have model homes that showcase certain spec home models that you can tour to get a feel for the layout, size, and design of the home. Your real estate agent can set up showing appointments for you very easily. It also helps if your agent has connections to local builders and developers so they get the inside scoop on upcoming new construction developments—like the agents at Build Idaho.

Spec homes, while more affordable, as well as cheaper and easier to build, are still built to stringent modern building codes. While there are little to no customization options, saving time, money, and stress is with it, especially for first-time homebuyers.

Bask in the Benefits
When you choose a new spec home, peace of mind is built-in. With an existing home, certain appliances or recent repairs may be under warranty, but you will be on the hook for most repairs. Spec homes come with a full warranty included for the whole home. The Federal Trade Commission reports that most new home warranties will cover siding, doors, trim, and drywall for the first year; and HVAC, plumbing, and electrical for two years. Some warranties include a 10-year warranty against major structural defects.

The biggest major benefit is that you get a turnkey new home. All you need to do is move your belongings in and settle into your new home.

What are the most important things to pay attention to when building a custom home?

Spec home builders design and build these homes without a specific buyer in mind in favor of a more desirable catch-all design with desirable furnishings and amenities that buyers can be happy with. All of these add up to a home that provides a great balance between affordability and a modern living experience.

8 custom home building features to pay attention to
Floor plan
The biggest and most important question about building a custom home is what the floor plan is going to be. It will dictate how you live every day. Consider these questions: Can it accommodate all of your furniture? Is there enough room in the kitchen for multiple cooks and guests? Will the bed and bedroom furniture fit comfortably? Will it be comfortable?

Consider these questions and answer them before breaking ground. Changing them before the build starts will save time, money, and hassle.

Of course, your home is going to have insulation from the elements, but there are two other considerations concerning insulation. First, consider getting insulation that will keep you comfortable no matter the weather, but will also create the most energy-efficient way of heating and cooling your house. The same goes for windows. Building a home is expensive, so pay yourself back a little bit every day with lower heating and air conditioning bills. Talk to your builder about insulation options

Second: think about sound insulation. Do you always want to hear people walking around upstairs? What if multiple people are talking on the phone and you don’t want to get distracted? If your custom-built home has a home office, you will want to minimize outside noise and distractions. One helpful hint is to use solid wood doors. They are a much better sound buffer.

Usually, the default color scheme is white. If you know what your interior design style is going to look like, talk to your builder about painting a wall or room a certain color to match your desired look. Be sure to ask about the paint brand to make sure you are getting good quality.

Flooring is one of the best ways to make a statement in your home. New vinyl flooring is very popular for its range of colors and styles as well as its durability. However, wood floors never go out of style and are always a way to elevate the style of your home. Talk to your builder about the type of wood you want to use during the planning process. Keep in mind the durability of certain wood types and how long or wide the planks will be. There are plenty of options to choose from!

Countertops and tile
The same goes for your desired material for countertops and tile for walls or backsplash. Natural stones are more desired and luxurious than engineered products, and they will last longer as well. Consider the differences in look, feel, and price between marble, granite, natural stone, concrete, or other materials before you start building.

Tying it all together in the kitchen are the cabinets. They tie the style of the kitchen together by matching the paint, countertops, and appliances. Consider the paint color and finish as well as the style and color of the handles and drawer pulls. The small details really stack up.

The lighting in your home should serve a purpose beyond providing light to a room. The fixtures and bulb color are what bring warmth into the room. Do you want chandeliers in the dining room? Recessed lighting in the kitchen and living areas? Do you want or need more lighting in rooms with a lot of windows? Consider using LED lights that cost pennies to run and don’t generate excess heat. They come in a variety of colors to suit the needs of every room.

Smart home tech
Finally, it is important to think ahead about how smart you want your home to be. Many companies offer services to connect your home to your internet and smartphone. These include voice-activated speakers, video doorbells, climate control, light timers, and home security. If you want any of these features, consider where they will be placed and how easy it will be to repair, update or replace them in the future. The world of tech moves fast, so these updates and replacements may come sooner than you think.

If you want to build a custom luxury home, give our team of real estate agents a call at 208.219.7683. Our agents have great relationships with some of the top custom home builders in the Boise area and will work with you and them to find the perfect lot to build your perfect custom luxury home.

What factors would you consider when buying land?

Whether you are buying land as a single person to live on or as a developer for an entirely new subdivision, there are many pieces to factor into your decision. The biggest three are zoning, the availability of utilities, and water runoff

How is the land zoned?

When land is put up for sale is divvied up and plotted on zoning maps by either the city, county, or state. These municipalities manage the land and its development in accordance with their goals for the area. For example, you won’t find land zoned for schools next to land zoned for industrial use—you will find it in a residentially zoned area. When looking at land, it is important to look at how it is zoned and if that lines up with your vision for the land. The most common zoning classifications are:

  • Single-family residential
  • Multi-family residential
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • School
  • Church
  • Industrial

What is a building permit?

A building permit is a legal document issued by the local government that shows that a government official has reviewed and approved plans for a project, deeming it safe and up to code. All of this ensures that potential health and safety hazards are minimized or resolved. Many times, it is necessary to get a permit with an extensive remodel or when hiring a contractor. However, there are plenty of remodels that don't require a building permit.