Yesterday, a friend of my wife called me to ask me a few questions about living here at Mueller. She was a first time home buyer, and had many concerns and questions about building a new home here. She was already working with a real estate agent, so I answered as a resident.
What’s it like building with XXX at Mueller? I’ve worked with all of the production builders at Mueller, and I have strong opinions about all of them. The key people who you interface with as a buyer are the sales staff, the design center staff, the construction supervisor and the warranty staff. I have personally built my own homes with two different builders here, and can give you the low down on these and others.
What are the problems living in a construction zone?This is particularly pertinent for us. The first home we bought here in 2008 was on a block that was already complete when we moved in. So aside from the odd nail picked up in a car tire, we were insulated from much of the noise and disruption. Our new house has an incomplete home on one side, and an incomplete street opposite. Luckily there are regulations that the builder’s subcontractors are bound by – so we’re not woken or kept awake by loud equipment, and things are quiet on Sundays. Of course, if I worked nights, I’d have issues. And my car and home windows are perpetually covered in dust. But I can live with that, and I make sure to get insurance when I buy new tires.
 Of course, no sooner have I spoken about flat tires, than I find this:
I was looking at the six cement trucks heading to the Town Center as I drove to the office this morning, and felt my car run over something as I passed the Children’s Museum. When I stopped at Mosaic I realized my tire was flat. Such is the peril of living in a construction zone.
Is there an option period in which to have your new home inspected? There is no option period as such, but you are allowed to have your home inspected by a third party hired by you (not to be confused with all of the other third party inspections that happen at a new build – for example the City of Austin and Energy Audits). The builder will make reasonable efforts to address any concerns before you close.
Can I lock my interest rate now?No.If you have a 6-9 month build time, then you would only be able to lock your rate between 45-60 days before closing with most lenders. Some lenders charge a fee for locking before 45 days before closing.
Can I trust the sales people at the builder’s office?I can trust all of them, as they have earned my trust over the years in many transactions. I started off being deeply suspicious about them all, as that’ s my nature. Over time, they’ve all shown their character and I enjoy working with the vast majority of them, as getting what a buyer reasonably wants isn’t a tooth-and-nail fight, and they tend to do the right thing.
Can you trust them? Just keep in mind that they work for the builder, and aren’t representing you in the same way a buyer’s agent does. At the end of the day, there are many Mueller public fora where disgruntled home buyers could / would vent their spleen if a builder doesn’t do the right thing. As with any anonymous internet forum, take what you read with a pinch of salt, and try to get both sides of a story before jumping to any conclusions.
Is the HOA really restrictive? Such an objective question – people either love or hate being governed by a HOA. Personally, I have never had any issue with the HOA telling me what I can and can’t do. They approved my application to add solar panels to my roof very quickly. Once I got a warning postcard for having a messy yard. I knew it was messy. I feel that I deserved the warning, based on the state of my tiny weedy flower beds, and the covenants I agreed to when I moved in. I don’t want to park an RV or boat on the street so the HOA doesn’t really impact me. Some would argue that it helps maintain certain standards that help to maintain my property value, and given that I don’t build giant art cars at the front of my house any more, that works for me.