Building your new home is an exciting time. Nothing can compare to the experience of putting up a structure from scratch. Unlike purchasing a ready-to-move-in house, having one custom built allows you to transition the home of your dreams into reality.
You dictate the number of rooms, choose the paint colors, determine the ceiling height, and place the laundry area wherever you please. But before you get carried away by the euphoria, there’s one thing you need to do, first and foremost: Figure out the questions to ask your custom home builder.
Choose Your Custom Home Builder.
It’s not as easy as you may think. There could be dozens in your area. Narrowing it down to “the one” will require more than just a few swipes on your phone. If you don’t do it systematically, you might end up picking just any builder out of sheer frustration.
Start in Your Own Backyard
Every future homeowner has a profile. What’s yours?
We’re talking about budget, lifestyle, needs, wants, and whims. Also, the location of your land and the size of your family.
Your profile is important because it must parallel that of the home builders. They are going to erect the house you plan to grow old in, so your relationship should be more than just business. You must get along well, speak one language, and be on the same page for the whole duration of the construction.
Once you’ve put your profile together, you’ll find the hunt to be much, much easier.
Study Your Prospects’ Portfolios
Using your profile as a guide, select 5 custom home builders that are most compatible with it. These are the minimum requirements they must meet according to your outline:
- Budget – price range of the homes they have built so far
- Size – on an average, how big (or small) their constructed residences are
- Style – contemporary, old-fashioned, avant-garde, tech-driven
- Timeline – how long it takes them to finish a project
When you’ve identified your top 5, reach out to them, and discuss the specifics of their services, processes, and options. Before going into details, make sure they’re available to work on your home at the schedule you’ve set.
This can be done on the phone or in person in their studio (you want to get a good feel of their work and personalities), preferably the latter. It’s critical to establish your chemistry (or the lack of it) early on. Don’t gloss over the fact that you are the client, and the conversation is an applicant interview.
Questions to Ask Your Custom Home Builder
To ensure you don’t miss anything, print out your questions or store them on your phone. Take note of your potential builders’ answers so you can compare them later on.
Questions to ask your custom home builder: What is your work experience like?
- How long has your business been operating?
- Did you start small, and if so, how did you grow into the size you are now?
- Will you be able to give me an estimate on the budget and timelines before construction?
- Do we finalize all building aspects before you begin work?
Can you provide proof of your credentials?
- Are you licensed? What does your state/county license allow you to do? And what kind of work are you not permitted to carry out?
- Is your company insured? What is the extent of your coverage?
- Are you financially stable? Can your bank vouch for you?
Do you offer standard, special and extended services?
- Will you conduct a pre-construction site inspection? Are you going to prep the land?
- What standard features do you include in the homes that you construct?
- Can you incorporate energy efficiency features in my home?
- What are your policies on change orders especially on post-completion jobs?
- Do you offer warranties? What do they cover and for how long?
Who comprises your team?
- Is everyone working in-house or do you also hire subcontractors?
- What is the level of expertise of each team member? (Ask about architects, designers, project managers, site managers, carpenters, craftsmen, electricians, plumbers, customer service reps, and accountants.)
- Will you be assigning one point of contact whom I can talk to for any updates or concerns?
How do you communicate with your clients?
- Do you use a project management tool that I can access directly? If so, is it updated in real-time on the construction’s progress?
- Does my point of contact have time and day limitations on accessibility? Or are they available 24/7?
- Will you contact me right away in case of an emergency on-site?
Questions to ask your custom home builder: To what extent can I customize my home?
- Do you have existing floor plans I can choose from? Are you able to create customized plans based on my concept and ideas?
- What if I already have a set of floor plans? Will you agree to use them?
- What forms of visual representations of your designs can you provide?
- How much involvement will you allow me? Can I be hands-on in selecting all the materials? And if so, will you recommend a few options so that I don’t get overwhelmed?
What is your work process?
- Can you walk me through the steps you take during each major phase of the project?
- Who are the people involved in each phase?
- How do I conduct inspections throughout the entire construction? And how will you address errors found during these inspections?
- What is your final walk-through process?
- Do you have the option to upgrade?
Can you provide references?
- Will you allow me on-site viewing of any of your current projects?
- Do you have model homes available for touring? If not, can you arrange a tour with the owner of a home you have built?
- Can you give me a list of clients, suppliers, and sub-contractors you’ve worked with? Is it okay if I contact them for a background check?
- Are you able to give me testimonials from your clientele?
Choosing the Custom Home Builder Perfect for You
A high level of expertise, a proven track record, and excellent feedback are all equally important aspects to consider when assessing your potential builders. But don’t discount your intuition. When you meet with them for the first time, pay attention not only to their body language but also to your gut reaction.
Remember, your custom home builder will be your partner in creating the masterpiece that is your forever home. The process will take a minimum of half a year, but the results will last a lifetime. Take your time. Trust the process. Make the choice only when you are fully satisfied.
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