Duval County

‘Totally unexpected’: Jacksonville couple learns home builder increased cost before construction

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As the cost of housing soars in northeast Florida, people building their homes are taking a hit, too.

Jose Gonzalez wanted to share his story with Action News Jax as a cautionary tale to others building homes: builders are increasing the cost before they even start construction.

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Building a new house has been a dream of Gonzalez and his wife’s for some time.

“We really are enamored with the concept of building this house,” he said.

In January, the couple put pen to paper and paid a $32,000 base fee. They thought they were all set, but now, Gonzalez is being told he needs to pay more.

“I got a call yesterday telling me that the price of the house had gone up forty-thousand dollars at that time, so they wanted to come back and change the price of the house,” he explained. “Builders now are actually increasing the cost before they even start building.”

That’s because of an escalation clause at the bottom of Gonzalez’ contract with Seda Construction that says the builder can increase the cost due to labor and materials issues.

While Gonzalez knew about the clause, he is surprised by the timing.

“It’s totally unexpected that they would raise their price within three months,” he said.

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The builder told Gonzalez there’s a labor and supply shortage. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders reports volatile lumber prices over the past year have upped the average cost of a new home by more than $18,600.

Gonzalez hopes the price for his home hike is a one-time occurrence.

“We might have to suck it up and just do it,” he said. “We don’t want another increase to occur before closing.”

Gonzalez and his wife are remaining optimistic. He tells Action News Jax his contract does allow him to back out if he wants to, but the dream of a brand new home is keeping the couple hopeful.