Ask Abby’s custom home-building questions
One of the most vital decisions you’ll make as you begin the process of bringing your custom home to life is selecting your builder. Start by asking your Realtor about the different builders in the area. Probably your Realtor has dealt with many of the builders already and can help you answer some of your questions before you even begin your search. Once you begin, here are a few factors to consider as you interview companies to select the one that’s right for you:
HAVE A GAME PLAN
What’s the level of service and company size you’re seeking? Some of my clients like the efficiency of dealing with a large company that has the resources to offer many services in-house, while others want the personal touch of a smaller builder that pulls experts into each project as needed.
- Does the builder/project manager share your vision and enthusiasm?
- Does the builder typically handle projects in your square footage and price range?
- Is the builder willing to make both you and any professionals you retain, active participants in the planning and construction process?
- What are their strengths and philosophy and do they match what you are seeking?
REPUTATION AND RESOURCES
- How long has the company been in business?
- What is the experience level of the principle people who will be involved in the construction of your home?
- Is the company a member of any local or national building associations?
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints.
- Ask to walk through completed homes and speak with former clients.
- Was their home completed on time and at the price they agreed upon?
- Are they satisfied with the quality of their new home?
- How was the builder’s service after they moved in?
- Walk through homes that are under construction and talk with the subcontractors at the site.
- Are the subs knowledgeable and skilled?
- What can they tell you about the quality of the home they are building?
- Are they considerate of the site?
- Does the builder have a process in place for communicating with clients and their Realtor?
- Are you comfortable with the frequency of the communication and with the means by which this particular builder communicates best (phone calls, faxing, emailing progress reports, etc)?
- If you are frequently out of town or have a demanding job, is the builder willing to work with your schedule?
- How are major changes and decisions handled?
- How are minor changes and decisions handled?
- Establish a clear understanding of pricing and all terms.
- Know exactly what is standard and what is an upgrade and how much each upgrade will cost.
- Take your time to decide what you want and don’t want so that you are clear when it comes time to make your choices. And when you have made those choices, make sure both you and your Realtor receive a copy of everything. When you are a few months into the construction, it is very possible that you will have forgotten what you originally chose and without a copy of your options, it will be difficult to determine whether or not something is wrong.
- Remember, the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best, so work with your Realtor to take all other factors into consideration.
CONTRACTS AND SERVICE
- What warranty does the builder offer on their work as well as the work of the subcontractors?
- Do they offer any quality guarantees?
- How willing are they to fix problems after the home is completed?