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Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Builder

  • May 5, 2017 by Finial User

Whether you plan to build a custom home or a spec home, choosing your builder is one of the first and most important steps. You will be working closely with the builder over a period of time, and a good relationship built on trust and honesty is necessary.

To make sure a builder is the right fit for you and your home building goals, here are the top 10 questions you need to ask before you sign a contract.

  1. Are you licensed in the state in which my house will be built?

It may seem obvious and a very basic question. However, we are located in North Carolina but close to South Carolina, making it very important for us to be licensed in both states.

Of course, the answer should always be yes. If the answer is simply no or it’s expired, you may have found someone who does jobs “on the side.” Go ahead and end the conversation there and find a licensed contractor.

2.   Do you have insurance and workers compensation?

This question may also seem elementary, but it’s extremely important. It’s perfectly OK to ask what type of insurance and how much.

What if a tornado destroys your home midway through the process? Is there a plan in place for such events? This protects both you and the builder.

3.   Can you build the house plan I have chosen within my budget? 

Once you have a house plan selected, a contractor will be able to give you an estimate for how much it will cost. Get several estimates from different contractors. Let the estimate and the answers to many of these questions help you decide on which builder to choose.

4.   How many projects do you have right now?

A contractor with a lot of current jobs doesn’t necessarily mean they will be too busy to add your home to the mix. You just want to make sure they have the manpower, office structure, and systems in place that are required to balance the workload.

5.   Do you have a list of references that I can call? Do you have a list of sub-contractors and vendors you partner with that I can call? 

Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Call them. Ask questions like: How did the overall process go? How did the builder handle problems that arose? Would you choose the builder again?

Call the sub-contractors and vendors and make sure the contractor is in good standing with them. Their partnership is important to your new home.

You can also ask to tour a model home or a past client’s home. This will give you a good idea of the builder’s workmanship.

6.   What is our schedule?

When you ask this question, expect more than just a start and end date. A schedule will outline phases and timing of the project. This will help you make decisions and design choices in a timely manner to keep the project on schedule.

7.   How often will we communicate?

Simply ask the question, and do not lead the builder to the answer you want to hear. The answer will give you a glimpse into the organization and professionalism of the builder.

It’s also important to find out the best method of communication (whether it’s daily texts, weekly phone calls, or on-site meetings). Communication between you and your builder is key.

8.   How do you handle change orders?

Instances may arise when you change your mind about a decision. A house is a big commitment, and you want to make sure you are satisfied with your selections. Find out how your builder will handle change orders, including how they will update you on the pricing.

9.   Will you inform me of any increases in materials and labor costs along the way?

As the project continues, the cost of products and services can change from what was estimated at the initial bid. Or, a phase may take longer than initially expected.

It will be important for the builder to communicate these changes to you so you can accommodate them within the overall budget. This will prevent you from experiencing an unwanted surprise at the end of the process.

10.   What is your process for fixing things after completion?

Minor things like nail pops or a crack in the molding may happen, and the builder needs to have a time limit and process of taking care of them. Make sure this is discussed ahead of time and included in the contract.

We hope this helps you get to know your builder before you sign a contract. If you’re local and a new home is in your future, feel free to contact us with these questions and more. We will be happy to schedule a consultation with you.

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