Model homes are always fun. They are beautiful and exciting, but honestly, they tell you nothing about the builder and their quality. You cannot compare your finished product to their model home. If you do fall in love with a model home, ask how many upgrades were put into the house. This will also tell you something about the culture of the builder. If they are selling a $350K house with another $350K of upgrades in the model home, most likely they are crooks. Haha no, that’s extreme, but they are definitely pulling a bit of a bait and switch.
You can look at the fit and finishes of the model home, but pay more attention to the floor plan and if it suits all of your structural needs. If it does, check to see if the builder has anything in inventory. Even if it is not the floorplan you are in love with, check out an inventory home, because it will give you a glimpse into their finish quality. Do they have sloppy paint jobs? Do they hang the doors straight? Is the tiling messy and uneven? Is the sealant around the plumbing a mess? That is the first thing. Is the quality any good? Because of course the quality of the model home is going to be immaculate. But the quality of an inventory home will reveal the truth.
The next thing you can check out in an inventory home is how nicely did they do upgrades? Most inventory homes will have a medium amount of upgrades because they want to make it desirable but not to have to overprice and then drop the price and make all the upgrades free to the buyer. So, how well did they choose their upgrades? Did they put any wood flooring in? If so, what is the quality? What does the standard lighting package look like? What about standard plumbing fixtures? Are they good enough for you? Or are you going to want to upgrade them when you build your own?
Now that you have browsed some of the inventory, how do you feel about the house? Do you still feel like they are a quality builder who are going to give you the house of your dreams? Or do you feel like you are going to have to pay double the starting price in upgrades just to get it how you want?