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Homebuilding 101: Terms First-Time Homebuyers Should Know

Homebuilding 101: Terms First-Time Homebuyers Should KnowAre you new to the world of homebuilding? First-time homebuyers are often overwhelmed by the homebuilding process and its terminology. To help, the team at S&A Homes has created an exciting “Homebuilding 101” blog series to serve as a useful crash course on the homebuilding process and common jargon.

To start the series off, here are 10 key homebuilding terms you are likely to come across during the homebuilding and/or buying journey with S&A Homes:

Builder Warranty

The builder warranty is the period in which a builder will repair or replace certain elements in the home. Builder warranties vary by builder, so be sure to pay attention to what is covered and for how long. At S&A Homes, we are known for our high customer satisfaction rates and exceptional home warranty coverage. Through our Customer Care program, homeowners are provided peace of mind with a fully-transferable 10-year warranty, as well as regular home care checks throughout your first year of homeownership.

Build On Your Land

Through the Build On Your Land program from S&A Homes, homebuyers can choose to build a home on their own previously purchased land in several locations throughout Central and South-Central Pennsylvania. Homebuyers receive a free on-site consultation with a project manager, personalized solutions based on the land, financial solutions and much more.

Building Codes

Building codes refer to a set of rules established by local or state governments that regulate how a home can be built or modified. While these codes set the standard for how new construction homes are built, S&A Homes strives to not only meet but also exceed those standards with every home we build.

Change Order

A change order is a written document from the homebuyer requesting to modify or change the original plan. In most cases, this usually involves the homebuyer requesting to modify the layout, add a feature to the home or change out one of the home’s finishes. Be aware that a change order can often alter the price of the home depending on the changes needing to be made.


Often referred to as “settlement” closing, which is the final step in the homebuilding process and homebuying transaction. During this phase, all final papers are signed, the keys are turned over and ownership of the home is transferred to the new homebuyers.

Down Payment

A down payment is a percentage of a home’s purchase price that you pay upfront when you close on a home loan. Most conventional home loans require a down payment of 5%, 10% or 20% while other loans (such as FHA or VA) typically require less or even no down payment at all. S&A Homes partners with local lenders who can offer a variety of financing options.

Earnest Money Deposit

Also referred to as a “good faith deposit,” this is the initial non-refundable payment required to begin the homebuilding process. In S&A Homes communities, homebuyers give a deposit of 5% of the total purchase price at purchase agreement. This deposit, as well as other deposits that may be due during the homebuilding process, are applied toward the down payment and other closing costs due at settlement.


In the new construction industry, elevation refers to the two-dimensional drawings of the exterior faces of the building. Most builders, including S&A Homes, use these drawings to show homebuyers what the home they plan to build will look like. At S&A Homes, our floor plans are available in several elevation options, each offering their own unique exterior details.

Floor Plan

Building a new construction home means selecting and customizing a floor plan to suit you and your family’s needs. A floor plan is a visual representation of your home viewed from above and drawn to scale. The floor plan is helpful is showing the relationship between different rooms, home measurements and the overall flow of the space.

HERS Index

The Home Energy Rating Standard (HERS) Index was developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and is used by home builders to indicate a home’s level of energy efficiency. The lower the score, the higher the energy efficiency. At S&A Homes, our homes are built to e-Home standards and boast an impressive HERS Index score of 65; that is less than the average code-built, new construction home!

Follow our blog for more “Homebuilding 101” content. To learn more about our new home process and our new home communities throughout Central and South-Central Pennsylvania, contact S&A Homes at 1-855-SAHOME1 or visit