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March 9, 2017

14 questions to ask your homebuilder

The process of progressing your custom home from vision to move-in should be an exciting experience. Choosing the right homebuilder is the first step toward ensuring your satisfaction. Here are 14 questions to ask your homebuilder before making this important choice.

  1. Will you build on my lot or do I need to purchase property from you? Some homebuilders focus on their own communities, while others will build elsewhere. Certainly, if you already have land in mind, you need a homebuilder who will build on your lot.
  2. Can I provide my own plans or do I need to choose one of yours? Some homebuilders stick with their own home designs because they’re “tried and true”. Others are comfortable working with quality home plans from another source (emphasis on “quality”).
  3. How many homes like the one I’m looking for have you built in this area? When a homebuilder is familiar with the geography, regulations, and challenges of building a home of a particular size and with certain features, you have the peace of mind that he is experienced with successfully navigating each one. That means timely construction without unanticipated overruns.
  4. Are you licensed and insured? Protect yourself by choosing a builder who can provide proof of insurance and a current builder’s license for the state where your home will be built.
  5. Do you offer a financing option? Is there a preferred lender you use? It can be convenient to use a homebuilder’s preferred lender, and they might offer better options than another lender. Before you decide on your homebuilder, determine your choices and whether or not you must use a preferred lender.
  6. What is standard in your homes and what is considered an upgrade? You need to determine what’s included in your price, so you’re comparing apples to apples with all of your homebuilders. Some standard features are options for other builders. Be clear about what you’re getting, particularly for those features that are important to you.
  7. Can I make changes after the construction has begun? It will cost more to make changes, and that price often goes up the farther along your home is in the building process. Discuss how your homebuilder handles changes so you know what to expect.
  8. What type of home warranty do you include? Appliances are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The quality of the structure (workmanship, systems, materials) should be covered by the builder’s warranty. The builder will specify the time period, so ask how long they guarantee your home and how repairs are handled during this time.
  9. What energy-efficient features do you include? Today’s appliances, construction materials (windows, doors, insulation), and HVAC systems are geared toward energy efficiency. Ask each builder to explain the extent of their energy efficient commitment.
  10. Can you provide references from your homeowners, and can I tour a few of your homes? With any major purchase, you check reviews of past customers. Don’t be shy about asking for references. A reliable homebuilder will proudly share his successes.
  11. Who will be in charge of building my home? Can I meet this person? The contractor or project manager will become your close friend during the construction of your custom home. Learn that person’s experience and then talk to him before making your decision. Is he easy to work with and accessible? Does he understand and appreciate your concerns? How is communication handled?
  12. Is landscaping included in the price? If so, what exactly do you provide? Know whether you are getting a lawn, shrubs, and/or trees, and specifically which plants are included.
  13. How often can I tour the worksite? It’s your home, and you should be able to visit during construction, but showing up unannounced or too frequently can impede the progress. Determine the best process and schedule for arranging these tours.
  14. What is the estimated time to complete the homebuilding? When can you start? One builder might be able to complete your home in three months but has a backlog and can’t start soon enough to meet your deadline. Ask for realistic start and completion dates, and any factors that will impact them.
Kevin Oakley

About Kevin Oakley

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