Looking for a home builder is almost as important as designing the house. Without a good builder, your design won’t come together, and you might end up paying a lot for a house that doesn’t capture the intent of your design – which is the reason you built a home in the first place. To ensure that doesn’t happen, most people interview a few different home builders, get building estimates and proposed completion times, and choose from there.
While that all sounds neat and tidy, how exactly do you know what to ask during those interviews? If you’ve never built a home before, it’s understandable that you may not be sure what questions to ask, and what responses to expect. So check out this list of our top 10 most important questions to ask your home builder before you pick the one that will be your partner in taking your dream home from concept to life. While there may be a few more you’ll think of later, these are a great place to start:
Are you licensed and insured in this area?
While it’s obviously important to hire a builder who is licensed and insured, it’s even more important to hire a builder who is licensed and insured in your state. Every state has different codes and requirements, and if your builder is from out of town, he or she must have the appropriate state’s building license and insurance. Don’t worry that asking this question will offend a builder, as this is one of those routine questions that almost anyone building a home will ask. In fact, you’ll know you’re with the right builder when they respond: “I am, and I’m happy to show you my license and proof of insurance. All of those details will also be included in our contract with you.” This shows that the builder is open, honest, and most importantly, safe.
Can you give me a list of references from recent projects?
The appropriate response from the builder here should be a yes, and then a list of references, but don’t just leave it at that. Make sure to call, and talk to each of those references. Ask them how their home building process was, if they liked the builder, if they ended up with the home they wanted at the agreed upon price, etc. If at all possible, visit some of the builder’s previous projects too. This will give you a good idea of what their work looks like, and a better insight into how well the builder works with clients.
How many homes do you have under construction?
This one might sound irrelevant, but it’s actually pretty important to ask. Depending on the size of your home builder’s company, the more homes they’re currently building, the less time they’ll be putting into yours. It does happen that builders get too busy, and then prioritize one project over the other, pushing others back. While it’s definitely a good sign if your builder is busy, make sure they’re not too busy for your project, or you might find yourself out of a home for months longer than you planned.
Does the builder offer a warranty, and what is, and what isn’t covered?
Many people forget that their home comes with a warranty, usually straight from the builder. It’s important to ask your home builder what their warranty looks like and if they have it in writing. From there, go ahead and ask what’s covered, and what’s left out, until you feel you fully understand the warranty. Don’t wait until something breaks to find out if it’s covered, get ahead of the game, and make sure you know what steps they’ll take in the event that something covered does break.
What standard features do your homes include?
Many home builders offer standard features with any home that they build. This might be a certain type of appliance, an energy efficient design, or certain other amenities and features that are built right into the house. Either way, it’s good to ask your builder what they offer, and then see if you can upgrade or downgrade features from the standard. If you’re trying to save money, you might be able to request a less expensive shower, or more affordable lighting options. Oppositely, if your master bath is very important to you, you may be able to request an upgrade from whatever the builder offers standard. Knowing that your builder will be flexible enough to work with you on this is a major plus, and it will make designing and budgeting your home considerably easier.
Do you have options for the floor plan?
Similar to the standard features question, many home builders work from a specific set of floor plans. Depending on the builder, some will let you deviate from their floor plans, and some will not. If you’re looking for a specific type of floor plan, or you’re working with your own architect, you’ll want to address this immediately to make sure you get the home you want. If you’re not sure what floor plan you’re looking for, this is still a great question to ask, because you should be able to see the options that the builder generally provides.
Who will oversee the construction of my home, and who should i contact with any questions i may have?
Construction projects can be hectic, and it’s important to know who you can contact. A quality home builder will have a point of contact that you can call or email with any question, and who will keep in touch with you about your project. It’s also good to know who’s overseeing the project, just to know who to talk to when you’re on the jobsite. In regards to the jobsite, this is a good time to ask if and when it’s okay for you to visit the site. Most builders will be fine with it, but need to know when you’re going to be there, so they can ensure proper safety precautions.
When will the final price for my home be determined?
This is another good question to ask to avoid any price discrepancies down the road. While there are always things that can come up with construction projects that either delay the build, or possibly cost more money, you’ll want to know the final price as soon as you can, so you can get the money together. Ask your builder when you can expect this, how they would like to be paid, and how they address any unexpected additional costs that occur after the final price.
When will my home be completed?
This is the big question every homeowner wants answered. While they probably won’t be able to give you the exact date right out of the box, you should get a ballpark range, which will help you choose between any other building candidates you may have. You might also consider asking how they deal with setbacks like weather delays, and how that might factor into the completion date.
What’s your process for inspection and final walkthrough?
Finally, you need to know you have a conscientious builder who, more than anything, follows the rules. Your brand new home is not something you want to cut corners on, and a good builder will ensure that everything is perfect by their standards, and the state’s, before they hand over the keys. They will have the home inspected at several important building stages, and then will personally do a final walkthrough to make sure everything’s where it needs to be. Most builders will also make themselves available to fix minor issues after you move in, whether paint gets chipped by furniture, or you notice a flaw in the crown moulding.
After asking these questions of all of your home building candidates, you should have a pretty good idea of who you want to hire, but if you have more questions, don’t be afraid to ask! This is the person you’re entrusting with the entire completion of your home, so it makes sense to be cautious, and to know for certain that you like the builder before you go ahead with the contract.
If you have any more questions about interviewing home building candidates, or if you’re looking for a home builder in the West Michigan area, make sure to give Whitmore Homes a call today. We’d love to answer any questions you may have! Call our office at (616) 446-3482 or contact us online today.