Anyone who’s been through the experience of building a home knows the importance of finding the right builder. It may seem like a confusing task involving so many variables, not to mention huge amounts of cash—but adding a few key questions to your list can make it easier. The more meticulous you are at the beginning, the greater your chances for a smooth and enjoyable building process throughout.
Here are 5 common questions we think every customer should ask a potential home builder. Here’s an interesting page if you want even more questions to ask about building a home.
- Is it possible to tour some of the homes you’ve built?
- How much customization are you willing to do?
- Are you licensed and insured? What kind of warranty do you offer?
- How often will the boss visit the work site?
- Are you a member of a homebuilder’s association?
You wouldn’t buy a car without sitting in the driver’s seat and taking it for a spin, so why buy a house without seeing examples of a company’s previous work? Many building companies will have open houses, or other opportunities to personally visit homes they have constructed. This is your opportunity to take a good look at the quality of work, from design and layout, to structural integrity, to the minute details and finishing touches. Photos are good, but there’s never a substitute for the real thing.
Ask as many questions as you can during the walkthrough. Address every concern that comes to mind. Take notes. Not only does this give you the answers you need, it lets the builder know that you are serious about holding them to a high standard, and getting the most out of your build.
Many building companies have set floor plans to choose from, and offer limited options for customization. Be sure you learn upfront how the builder operates in this respect. If you have specific customizations or layouts in mind, bring them to your initial meeting. This will give you an immediate sense of whether you’ll be able to work together. This also give you a chance to hear from the builder about your plans, and discover certain design concepts you may not have thought about.
Surprisingly, not every locality requires building companies to be licensed or insured for their trade. You want to know that you and your home builder are covered in case of mishaps, and how comprehensive that coverage is. Also, whenever possible, you want to know that your building company is licensed. These factors indicate a higher professional standard, and they will usually show up in the quality of work.
Warranty is another important point to be clarified at the start. Different companies have different policies, and you don’t want to find out after the fact that something important isn’t covered. What kinds of events and failures are covered? How long does the warranty last? Is the warranty transferable to a new owner, in case I decide to sell? These are all important questions.
The individual with the highest expertise, who is overseeing the build, should visit the site often and predictably. Find out up front how much time the boss will spend at your build site. His or her experience and oversight are invaluable to the other workers. The quality of the build is almost always higher when the boss is regularly on-hand to see that things are done right. It’s also a chance for you to maintain communication with the boss, voice concerns, and give ongoing feedback.
Not every home builder chooses to affiliate with a local or national home builder’s association, and there are quality builders who don’t. Nonetheless, it’s a good question to ask. Membership in a homebuilder’s associates demonstrates a commitment to the craft and the community, and also serves as a valuable quality-control mechanism. If the builder is affiliated, feel free to contact the association and ask for whatever information they can provide on the builder’s services and history.
Hopefully this list of questions has given you something to think about as you begin the process of finding the right home builder. Your comments are welcomed!