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Top Questions for a Builder

Here are some of the top questions I have found during my research. When I was in the beginning stages of our new build, these were the items that were top of mind. If you have a great question that I have missed on here, let me know in the comments!

Interview Questions to a builder:

  1. Can you work with my architect during the design process to help create our ideal home that also meets our budget? (If you do not have an architect, ask them about their design services)
  2. What are your terms of compensation for pre-construction services?
  3. How are you compensated for this project?
  4. Are you comfortable building the style and quality home that we expect?
  5. Who will directly supervise our project daily, and how available are you when we need to talk to you?
  6. How do we address our questions and concerns during the construction?
  7. Are you available by cell phone if something is urgent?
  8. How long have your subcontractors and supplies been working with you, and how do you qualify each of them?
  9. When design changes come up, or unforeseen conditions result in extra cost, what process do you use to communicate to the architect and owner?
  10. How long do you anticipate the construction of our home to take?
  11. How will you service your warranty after the completion of the construction project?
  12. How many years have you been building homes?
  13. How many houses have you (and your team) built?
  14. Can you provide me with some references of past clients? (See questions to ask past clients below)
  15. Are you licensed and insured? (This is a big one! Don’t skip checking on this!)
  16. Who is the primary person I’ll be working with? Who can I contact with questions or concerns?
  17. How much will this build cost?
  18. Does the price factor in landscaping? (or you can also ask for a breakdown of what it includes)
  19. Do you offer any specific energy-saving features? Does your plan allow for modifications to make this build more energy efficient?
  20. Are there any additional fees we can expect from this project?
  21. When will I know the final cost of the house?
  22. Can you build off my own set of plans? Or do you only use existing floor plans?
  23. How much customizing do you allow?
  24. What are the standard features in your house builds?
  25. How and when can I make changes to the floor plan (in the beginning and throughout the build)?
  26. How soon can we move in?
  27. What’s the timeline? What could change this timeline?
  28. What is your process for making inspections during the build and afterward?
  29. How soon will I be notified of any unexpected delays?

RED FLAGS WHEN HIRING A CUSTOM BUILDER

  1. There is no written contract or a poorly written contract. 
  2. The proposal price is significantly lower than others received 
  3. The work history is uncertain and unverifiable. No references
  4. The builder’s estimate is priced per square foot, vague and not transparent. 
  5. There is a heavy reliance on allowances for the final bid. 
  6. The sales pitch is very strong. 
  7. There are several unresolved claims from the State Contractor’s Board. 
  8. Builder is not able to provide evidence of certificates of insurance for General Liability or Workers Compensation. 
  9. The builder offers select discounts for being able to use your home in future marketing of their business. 
  10. The builder has poor follow-up and communication skills.

Questions to ask of referenced clients:

  1. Did the project stay on budget?
  2. Was the original estimate proposed accurate?
  3. Did the project complete on time?
  4. Were finances and paperwork transparent and easy to understand?
  5. How do you feel the overall project was managed?
  6. Were decisions made on a timely basis?
  7. When things got stressful, how did the builder respond?
  8. Did the builder get back to you when you called or emailed quickly?
  9. Was the schedule of construction communicated?
  10. What role did the builder play once the project started?  
  11. Besides the builder, are there any other key individuals you would request?
  12. Would you use the builder again?
  13. Was the worksite kept clean daily, or was trash not picked up routinely?
  14. Were there any subcontractors you would not recommend or avoid in the future?

Things you want to look into before you build.

  1. What are the property taxes for this area?
  2. What amenities are nearby? (Grocery stores, child care centers, gyms, etc.)
  3. Where are the nearest emergency facilities? (Fire stations, police departments, hospitals, emergency veterinary hospitals, etc.)
  4. How are the local school systems rated?
  5. Know your own finiancing.
  6. Is there a homeowner’s association? If so, what are the fees or regulations?

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