Neighbourhoods once devastated by the wildfire are now showing signs of a bustling recovery. Being a homeowner of a “still-standing” property in the neighbourhood of Abasand, I have watched as the neighbourhood has steadily had its spirit rise as quickly as the new homes popping up within it. Other neighbourhoods, such as Beacon Hill, Waterways, Wood Buffalo, and Stonecreek, are also showing much of the same recovery. The once depressed neighbourhoods, which felt an uncertainty if people would again return to them are now becoming increasingly desired as each energy efficient, sparkly new home emerges.
With more and more rebuilt homes becoming available on the market, there is a repetition of questions I have from many buyers.
What are the pros and cons of purchasing a rebuild?
First, let's start with the pros...
More bang for your buck
There is the ability for first-time home buyers, or savvy purchasers, to get a lot of ‘bang for their buck.' Building in today’s market is extremely expensive with the cost to build having risen significantly after the fires. Many of the rebuilt homes (especially in the more mature affected neighbourhoods) have been paid for by insurance and replaced properties that were older and further depreciated than the new home that stands in its place. Consequently, rebuilt properties may be worth more than the property that stood prior (even with the decrease in market values
over the past several years). There is a handful of sellers that may want to move on from their property and financially have more room to negotiate
due to the increase in their property value. There is also the bonus of possibly having a newer home on a larger lot (many of the mature lots that are being rebuilt on are substantially larger than one would typically find in newer constructed areas in Fort McMurray). Lastly, many of these properties are found close to major amenities (hospital, malls, restaurants, etc.).
Warranty, Warranty, Warranty
As per the Home Warranty Alberta Website:
As of February 1, 2014, every new home built in Alberta is protected under warranty. Alberta’s New Home Buyer Protection Act encourages even higher quality standards, making sure your new home stands the test of time.
1 YR-This takes care of finishes throughout the home, including any defects in flooring, paint or trim.
2 YRS-This primarily covers defects in labour and materials related to heating, plumbing and electrical systems.
5 YRS-Building envelope means the exterior shell of the home, including the roof and walls. Two additional years of coverage are available.
10 YRS-This covers the key structural components of your home, including its frame and foundation. Via homewarranty.alberta.ca
The Cons of Purchasing a Rebuild...
When purchasing a rebuilt property, many of the cons can be properly navigated with the guidance of a REALTOR®/A-Team buyer’s specialist
at your side.
So Many Builders, So Many Questions
On the Wood Buffalo Builder Registry, there are currently 87 pages of registered builders. This can be overwhelming when determining if the builder that constructed the home of interest is reputable (and top of buyer’s concern) is planning to stick around. I often will advise the buyer to meet with the builder of the home. Meeting with the builder allows the buyer to establish a relationship and allows the opportunity to ask for references, ask questions regarding quality of materials, timelines spent building, inquire about major hiccups or deficiencies that occurred during the rebuild and how they were handled. Once the buyer is satisfied with having any questions answered regarding the home and aftercare the builder provides, the buyer can make an educated decision regarding moving forward with the purchase, or moving forward completely and finding a different property.
Neighbours past, present, and future
Unlike a typical ‘new build’, a rebuild can give off a feeling of uncertainty when it comes to your neighbours. When a home builder is traditionally developing a street or neighbourhood, it is usually completed in phases and there is a plan regarding when work may take place in order to create as little disturbance as possible for the homes that take occupancy earlier.
With a rebuild, this differs. Because each homeowner has the right to choose their own builder, I also advise my clients to do their due diligence when investigating the neighbouring vacant lot. Answer as many ‘W’ questions as possible. Try determining when the neighbouring property will be developed. What will be built on the neighbouring property? Lastly, and (in my opinion) most importantly, who will be completing the rebuild on the neighbouring property? Construction can be loud, frustrating, and messy. It is important to establish who is responsible (in writing) should there be damages to your property that result from the rebuild taking place adjacent to your home. Speak to a lawyer if you have major concerns.
Lack of Architectural Control
In a traditional development, there are often architectural controls in place to protect the integrity and conformity of the neighbourhood. In my understanding, to create ease, there are no architectural controls instated for the rebuild. For the most part, homeowners and builders are doing their part to supply some beautiful product; however, there may be some items important to you as the buyer that may NOT be included with the purchase of the property. Front landscaping, driveways, decks, rear landscaping, fencing… These are a few things that may be expected when purchasing your new property. With snow on the ground, it may be assumed that many of these items are seasonal and still to be completed; however, depending on the seller's settlement with their insurance company, these items may not be included. Most likely, price will be adjusted to account for this; however, it is EXTREMELY important for you as the buyer to have a clear understanding of what exactly will be completed by the builder and what YOUR responsibility is as the new homeowner.
Overall, I truly believe there are some amazing homes, neighbourhoods, and opportunities to be excited about as part of this rebuild. If you're looking to sell a home and want some of your rebuild-related questions answered, check out our previous blog regarding selling your home without stress.
To those who are returning to their rebuilt home in the fantastic neighbourhoods they know and love, CONGRATULATIONS - we are so happy to see you back!