Your New House
Note: The 4th edition of this book is now available.
The cover of this book is full of glowing comments from reviewers, yet by the third paragraph I was ready to stop reading when the Fields proclaimed that "a builder and a crew of misfits, ex-felons, and drunkards labored on alternate Tuesdays to build our house." I forced myself to read on, only to find another description of building crews as people "who are more like Larry, Curly, and Moe - bumbling idiots who couldn't tell their butt from a two-by-four." At that point I was starting to get angry, yet I began to realize that while the authors were making an attempt at satirical humor, their descriptions fit in some cases. More importantly, their descriptions are perceived to be accurate by many people.
Alan and Denise Fields consider themselves to be consumer writers, or at least that is how they are described by their dog, ZuZu (who supposedly wrote About The Authors). They decided to build a new home when their first book Bridal Bargains became a best seller shortly after they appeared on Oprah. While they may not be experts on how to build a house, they have gone through the homebuilding process and they are certainly very good at promoting their books. They have since appeared on many of the morning television shows, and 20/20. Their message is the same wherever they appear. Consumer beware!
The Fields offer very good descriptions of tract, semi-custom, custom, spec, and pre-sold homes. They discuss mortgages, home affordability, architects and builders, real estate agents, contracts, warranties and legal rights. They clearly explain what to look for and what to avoid throughout the building process. There are sections on the key inspection points during construction and what you can do if things go wrong. Much of the information is provided in question and answer format, and there are tips about watching out for your money, which they call "Money Bombs", thrown in all through the book. Alan & Denise are very effective at pointing out the many things that can go wrong during the construction of a new home, yet some of the actual construction information is either over simplified, misleading, or simply incorrect. Reader beware!
This book is clearly aimed at the consumer. At some point, it is defamatory to almost everyone else who is involved with the construction of a new home; from builders, to real estate agents, to mortgage bankers. If taken literally, you are probably heading toward bad relationships with the people who are building your home. Reading this book will certainly cause increased suspicions of everyone along the way. However, it is for these very reasons that I believe this book should be required reading for everyone having a house built. More importantly, everyone who works on a house being built for someone else should read the opinions of two consumers who put their own home building experiences on paper.
Pay attention to the couple of places in the book where the Fields admit that some builders are actually good people that do good work, double check the construction information with a qualified expert before you accuse your builder of doing something shady, and ask lots of questions before you make any decisions. Builder or homeowner, this book will definitely make you look at the process of building a new home in a different light.
If you are building a house, read this book. Just keep in mind that the authors are writers and not professional builders. To get "the other side of the story" read The Well-Built House and/or Norm Abram's New House.
Other books by Alan & Denise Fields include:
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