Building a home is a major challenge. Finding someone who can transform your vision into reality will result in a new home that will lead to years of security and enjoyment. Selecting the right builder is therefore an important first step, and all prospective customers should be prepared to ask plenty of important questions. The following list of questions to ask your new home builder up-front offers a useful starting point for formulating your own set of inquiries.
Logistical Issues * How long will it take to build my new home?
What is your price range?
What types of floor plans do you offer?
How long has this plan been built? Will my home be the first?
What kinds of amenities can you provide?
If I have a home to sell, will the builder let me purchase a home contingent upon the successful sale and closing of my current home?
Has there been any special assessment financing for this property?
Is everything I see in your model homes a standard feature?
Could window coverings be installed during the building process and included in the mortgage?
How can I find a good mortgage company, and what are the key differences from one company to another?
How do you compare with other builders? Why are your prices higher/lower?
What kind of warranty do you offer, and what are the critical factors in evaluating a warranty?
Should I add a clause to the contract to ensure that any material installations performed by your workers does not void the warranties?
Is there anything in your contract about material changes? Don’t I have to give you approval first?
How many years have you been in business? Are you financially strong?
How often will I have access to the home during the building process?
Additional Expenses * How much are the taxes, and are there Home Owners Association (HOA) dues for the area I’m interested in?
Is there a lot premium for the home site? Should I pay for one?
Are there any other hidden costs?
Land and Safety Concerns * What will be built on the adjoining/adjacent properties?
How is any undeveloped property zoned?
Has a soil test been done, and has it passed inspection?
Could you show me a plat of the actual lot to evaluate any possible easements?
How can I ensure that this home will be built completely code-compliant?
Construction-Related Considerations * How do the subcontractors feel about the building quality?
How can you ensure that my house will reflect my individual style? What types of interior finishes and upgrades could you provide, and do you offer the services of a professional interior designer to implement my visions?
What kind of drainage system will the home site have? Is it the correct one?
Does the community have an architectural control committee?
Reputation and Stability Issues * Ask your builder for a list of referrals. Is there a list of homebuyers in the community that would give the builder a good recommendation?
Ask for a list of several of the builder’s properties in your area that will give you a broad representation of his or her work. Take a close look at the quality of those properties.
What is the average length of time both the sales and construction personnel remain with you?
Ask whether the builder has ever been associated with a builder that filed for bankruptcy. Builders often file for bankruptcy, abandon their home buyers, and start up their practices under new names.
Customer Service Issues * How responsive and accountable are you in terms of customer service? Are your existing homeowners satisfied?
Explain your processes and systems. Do you provide literature that specifies what I can expect while you are building my home?
Who can I go to with questions when visiting the new home site? Is there a specific contact person who can answer questions about the process for building my home?
What is the customer service policy after I move in? When and how often will you check in on my home?
Some home builders have computerized systems that keep track of all customer service follow-ups that can let you know how consistent and responsive they really are. Ask builders whether you can see records from these systems.
The above questions are just a sampling of the many issues you should flesh out before deciding to retain someone to build your new home. Asking and receiving good answers is necessary to achieve strong communication between you and your builder, which is critical to avoid problems and delays, and keep extraneous expenses down.