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New Home Construction Tips | Questions to Ask Before Buying A new Home in Dallas

Question to ask when buying a new house in Texas: New Home Construction Tips

Plan your new home construction project before construction starts to include key upgrades!

Let's face it your family's needs do change with time and the home you currently own may no longer meet those changing needs. Buying a home in Texas can be an exciting project for a family. Smart builders know this and strive to provide the latest floor plans and modern amenities designed to meet today's ever changing needs. Whether it is increased energy efficiency, more technology features or carefully designed floor plan ergonomics, you can find or build the house of your dreams when you are buying a home in Texas. If you decide to build from scratch as opposed to the purchase of a completed builder SPEC (speculation homes) you must keep in mind that certain desirable amenities must be planned for ahead of time and added at specific stages of construction when you are buying a home in TX.

The information found in this report will help bring to mind the type of upgrades you may want to incorporate in your new home when buying a home in Texas and you plan to build from an empty lot Now the real work begins as you have only a certain amount of time to make plan changes with the builder if you want to have the upgrade features listed below. Part of our job as your agent is to help you understand your options during your home's construction and to provide an alternative perspective from what you are getting from the builder's sales associates and or construction manager.

After working with hundreds of new home buyers we have developed a list of sought after features you should consider if you are buying a new home in Texas and building it from the ground up. Adding them during construction is not only cost effective, but may be the ONLY opportunity you will ever have to add these features to your new home. Getting your home right NOW may mean having less and less reasons in 5 years to want to move again (and go through all the expenses associated with moving). The key is to get pricing from the builder during contract discussions and then to add those items to your contract BEFORE construction starts.

  • Energy Efficient Upgrades

  • Construction Issues to Consider

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Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Energy upgrades are critical for many reasons. Not only will it save you money on utility bills and help lower our national dependence on Mideast oil, it will also provide increased year round comfort. A drafty cold house in the Winter, followed by a difficult to cool home in the Summer combined with high utility bills will be a huge let down especially if you went through the trouble to build your home from the ground up.

Here are key suggestions that have proven to help:

  • Solar Light Tubes - If you love natural light then adding a single solar tube to a kitchen or family room or any other darker area of your home will really lighten and brighten up your living space. Solar lights once installed bring sunlight into your home saving you the need to turn on lights. Solar Tubes run about $700 per drop. If you are building a 2 Story home you MUST plan these at build stage as retrofitting will be impossible.

  • Whole house Radiant Barriers - These go under the brick veneer and 2nd floor cement siding. If this is not added during construction you will forgo ever having this cost effective energy efficient feature on your home. The Radiant Barrier works by reflecting over 99% of heat carrying infrared radiation away from your exterior walls. Your home's exterior walls are where a lot of cooling efficiency is lost. When barriers reflect heat producing radiation from your home's exterior walls your insulation becomes more effective and your AC System works less to maintain a comfortable environment. In fact most homes that have whole house radiant barriers need to have their AC Systems "tonnage" downsized to prevent short cycling. Smaller AC Systems cost less! This is an important feature to keep in mind when buying a home in Texas with hot Texas summers.

  • Radiant Wall Barriers for Winter Efficiency Too! - In the Winter Radiant Barriers will also provide an effective radiant barrier against heat loss through infrared radiation transmission from your home's exterior walls.  Most homes can be wrapped for $1000 to $2000 depending upon the size of your home. Many foil barriers carry a lifetime warranty and can be purchased with tiny perforations that allow the wall to breath so as to prevent possible moisture or mold problems.

  • Adding Attic Radiant Barriers - These include Barriers other than foil that are glued to the inside your new home's roof decking. Proper placement of Radiant Barriers is critical for achieving maximum living space comfort and efficiency benefit.

  • Whole House Perforated Cement Soffits - for increased attic ventilation. We can show you what to look for. If your Attic is uncomfortably hot, then your AC System is operating under overly harsh conditions, which means your AC System must run longer to overcome duct losses. Attic Ventilation, is the most critical parameter to control and is critical to maintain interior comfort and lower utility bills.

  • Adding Additional Roof Vents Using Turbines and Ridge Venting - Attic airflow is critical to achieving a cooler attic. A cooler attic means your AC System works in a cooler environment and heat absorption into your home from a hot attic is lessened. This is critical when buying a home in Texas as it can get really hot in summers.

  • Windows - According to the Texas Window Initiative, windows account for 46% of the heat load or energy loss of a home! This is HUGE! TXU Electric is estimating that utility costs will rise 15% a year for the next 10 years. This means a $300 Electric Bill today will potentially cost over $1000 in 10 years. Clearly Windows are a huge factor in how your home will live and what you pay per month. Quality windows will pay for themselves in energy savings and interior comfort. Aluminum Windows are Colder in the Winter and HOTTER in the Summer and this does nothing but hurt energy savings.  


  • Vinyl Windows - for South and South West facing window locations that are not shaded by trees or a porch. We can help you understand your choices in these critical locations. As more and more builders switch to High Performance Low E Vinyl Windows the cost to produce these energy efficient alternatives have become less. The benefit is absolutely easy to discern especially when you compare a West Facing Aluminum Window at 5Pm during a HOT Texas Summer's afternoon to a modern high performance Vinyl window. The difference is amazing and this will save you money when buying a home in Texas.  

  • Thermal Break Aluminum Windows - Vinyl windows are high performance windows, however their lifetime will not match the durability of an Aluminum Frame. Hence the new addition to the window lineup - "Thermal Break." This windows is manufactured with an outside and inside Aluminum frame that is separated by a Fiberglass center. The Fiberglass prevents the heat or cold on the outer frame from jumping across the insulator. In the Summer, the inside frame will remain near room temperature, while the outside frame can be as hot as 130 degrees. Standard Aluminum frames would transmit the outside heat into the the room increasing the workload on your AC and Heating system.

  • Blown Cellulose Insulation - in exterior walls, 2nd floor walls that face attic space and Ceilings. Cellulose provides up to ~ 1.5x more R value per inch and greatly reduces air gaps in the walls that are common with fiberglass and provides a much improved sound proofing quality. Combine this with Foil Barriers for a very noticeable difference in your new home. IF you install this into your home you will be need to downsize your AC tonnage as your home's efficiency will increase.

  • Rock Wool Insulation - This is an inert type of insulation made from rock. Basically rocks are carefully shredded and the "wool" that results is used to insulate your house. Rock wool is very efficient and does not settle over time like cellulose can and bugs can't eat it and moisture can't hurt it.

  • Foam Insulation - Partial or Full application will provide the most energy efficient home possible with the lowest possible air leakage. The expense for this type of insulation material is higher, but the pay back is much faster. PLUS the interior comfort levels are very uniform on both the first and second floors and the AC System in the attic operates in near ideal temperatures (mid 80's) for maximum efficiency. This type of system needs a special AC ventilator system to introduce fresh air into your home. IF you have ALLERGIES, this type of whole house foam insulation is perhaps the best way to control your interior air quality when combined with a whole house humidifier and Electronic HEPA air Cleaning system.  


  • Install an Energy Brace Backing Sheathing - on all 2nd floor walls PLUS Radiant Barrier Foil that face any unconditioned attic space. This actually allows insulation to perform better and hence better temp control for your 2nd story living space. Energy Brace is inexpensive and is easy to install.


  • 16+ SEER AC Systems - AC systems go all the way up to 21 SEER. Yes they cost more, but during the last 12 months prices have really come down. When you are building you should consider upgrading your AC to a higher SEER. If you add the insulation upgrades suggested on this webpage you will need to downsize your Tonnage to prevent "short cycling" of the AC system. Short cycling means your home is so efficient that the units do not stay on long enough and this is bad because humidity is not being removed properly. To prevent short cycling the size or tonnage of your AC system needs to be reduced and this alone will reduce your AC system cost. Smaller tonnage draws less amps and this in turn saves you a lot of money. 

Construction Issues to Consider

Over the years many of the traditional materials used by builders have changed to man made materials. Many times this was to add durability, prevent warping and in some cases to save money. The issue of plumbing goes down the same lines and is bringing changes to the way new homes are being built. How this may effect you will be discussed. We have no position on what product is best suited or how either product is installed. We would suggest contacting a licensed building engineer for suggestions or advice with regards to plumbing products.


  • Structure - What sheathing to use on the exterior frame. What you must do to achieve a more solid wall construction? Find out what your builder offers before you sign the contract.

  • 2nd Floor Decking - Real Plywood versus OSB? Weight Bearing considerations for heavy 2nd floor furniture and longevity questions. Learn more


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Nitin Gupta is a residential real estate agent with Competitive Edge Realty

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