17 Questions To ask Builders While Going Through your Interview Process
As most of you have already noticed, shopping for a builder can seem like an extremely daunting process. One of the best ways to effectively navigate through this is through equipping yourselves with a solid list of questions. Having these will help you take control of the conversation, and extract the information you needed to make the most effective decision when selecting your future home builder.
Below I’ve put together a list of the top 17 questions to ask builders while going through your interview process:
1) How many years have you been in business? How many homes have you built locally within the last 5 years?
Knowing how many years a builder has been in business is great, but what may be even more important is current and relevant experience. Some contractors may have building a lot 5 – 10 years ago, but only have very little experience recent bylaws.
2) How much of this project do you take on as our builder? Do you provide assistance with suppliers? Design? Permitting?
As each builder is so different, this is a great question to ask as the level of process management can vary significantly. Some builders manage the entire process from start to finish, including the design of the building, where as some builders only handle the process once the drawings are completed. Additionally, will they help you through the entire submission process? Though some may have experience with this process, most people would need assistance from start to finish.
3) What’s included in your price? What are the standard finishes and items, and what are upgrade items? More importantly, throughout the entire process, what isn’t included and may come up?
Most of this should be outlined for you in the contract details, but knowing what’s not included will help a lot with budget planning. Does the builder include the design drawings, permits, landscaping, appliances? Do they include hazardous material removal? Avoiding the dreaded hidden/unknown charges will be dictated by how well they’re able to answer this question.
4) How do you ensure that I will not exceed my budget?
Yet another question that past customers will help you confirm, but here’s where you want to know how the builder’s communication style works. It’s critical to feel confident that your builder will work with you to keep you within your budget and communicate how changes impact the budget.
5) What differentiates you from other builders? What makes you unique in your process?
Though this is a very “interview” type question, it’s a very important question to ask. What does this builder bring to the table and how can they benefit you through the process? What type of warranty do you offer?
6) Do you have good quality trades? How long have you worked with these trades for?
Having a solid group of trades it a huge facor when selecting a quality home builder. A good custom homebuilder and his trades will care about the construction of your new home as if it were their own. They should be willing to communicate with you as often as necessary and be willing to offer opinions or suggestions so you can make best decisions.
7) Who will be taking care of your project? What roles will they be playing through the process?
Often during the interview process you will be talking to a sales rep for a construction company. This person may not be the person you’ll be dealing with for your build. Will you have a specific project manager? Who will they be and how often will they be on site? These are great questions to ask as those specific people would be great to talk to prior to making your decisions.
8) Can I show your construction contract to my lawyer prior to signing?
Does this builder have a contract which clearly outlines all the details of what’s included throughout the process, and do you have sufficient protection? Asking this simply question will help filter out those who do not like to bother with details and will be the people who you’d like to stay away from.
9) Can you give me references from prior home buyers? Do you have any completed homes I can view?
Checking references are extremely important as it will help you make a much more informed decision based off of their prior experiences with the builder. Also, as quality is very subjective, seeing a completed home for yourself will help align your expectations.
10) Are you licensed & insured?
This should be a quick question with a no hesitation answer, but you may be surprised. If you are using a lender to finance the construction, they’ll require the builder to provide proof of their licensing and insurance, but if you’re not financing, make sure you receive proof. On insurance, it’s important to confirm the builder is not only carrying General Liability and Worker’s Compensation coverage.
11) What’s your warranty and how do you handle issues?
Besides the standard 2, 5, 10 Home Warranty which is required by BC Building Code. Most reputable builder will have a 1-year warranty and take quick action on any items which arise within this time. Additionally, it will also be good to understand how they handle items which fall within home warranty and how willing they will be to help you navigate that process.
12) Do you provide assistance for selecting the home’s finishes?
Building a new home involves a lot of decisions, especially when it comes to selecting items like cabinets, counters, light/plumbing fixtures, paint colors, etc. For many people it can be overwhelming. An experienced interior designer can walk you through the process, so knowing if they include one would be helpful. Make sure you’re not on your own and the builder has someone to guide you through the selection process. Additionally, do they have standard suppliers that they work with, or will you have to navigate those on your own as well?
13) What’s your communication style like and how accessible are you to answer my concerns?
Communication is absolutely critical when building a home as too often you hear about contractors being unreachable for weeks at a time. Use this interview process to test different means of communication and responsiveness. Do they use email? Text? Do they return your phone calls promptly? Also, how open and willing are they to receiving feedback through the process regarding quality concerns.
14) What’s the timeframe to build a home and how do we make sure we don’t exceed it?
The experience of past customers will once again give you an indication of reality, but it’s important to get an honest estimate of the timeframe prior to any agreement. This isn’t the time for your builder to be a hero, so be wary of a timeline that seems overly optimistic. Additionally, ask what tools the builder utilizes to track their schedule and progress. Like any complicated project, a custom home has 30+ suppliers and sub-contractors that need to be coordinated. A builder of a custom home without a detailed written schedule is similar to the waiter that doesn’t write down your order – you can bet it won’t be right!
15) Can you provide me detail specifications and cost?
The devil is ALWAYS in the details and this is certainly true when building a new home. You must get clear, detail specifications and costs from your builder. If anything is unclear, get it clarified. If items important to you are not spelled out, make sure that they are. If you are trying to compare 2 proposals, you have to make sure the details match to be able to compare apples to apples.
16) Is home building the builder’s only profession?
Funny as this may sound, often you’ll find builders who do this as a side gig. Home building is a serious business. It takes commitment to keep up with everything that is going on in the industry. It requires solid business skills and a track record of satisfied clients. If a “builder” proposes to build your home part-time, you should proceed with caution. If this builder offers you a “better” financial deal, you need to wonder. The old adage that you get what you pay for holds true for home buying as well.
17) Do you trust them?
Though this isn’t a question you want to ask them directly, this is a great question to ask yourself. Use your gut and see if you find them trustworthy enough to manage one of the largest investments of your life. . Bottom line, you can’t underestimate how important it is to like, trust and respect your builder. Building a custom home is a long term relationship that continues beyond the home’s construction for at least 2 years plus the warranty period. Regardless of how great their reputation is in the area, if there is any reason you are uncomfortable, why would you trust that builder with one of your most important investments?
If you have any questions around the processes of home building feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m glad to help. Happy Building!