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What Questions to ask a Potential Builder

If you’re working towards building your dream home, the first step is to secure a contractor equipped to turn those blueprints into the humble abode you’ve long desired. There are many things to consider when “shopping” for a builder, so it’s best to ask questions in your pursuit of the one meant to turn your dreams into a reality.
1.       Do you have your license and are you insured? This should always be the first question asked, as it can make or break the conversation to follow.
2.       Can you build my home within in the limits of my budget? Ask each contractor this question and consider their answer in comparison to your needs. You wouldn’t want to choose the contractor who offers the highest price, that’s a given. But, you also wouldn’t want to choose the one who offers the lowest. Find the proverbial “middle man” who can meet your needs both with your home and your wallet.
3.       Are model homes of your work available for me to visit? Some contractors may allow tours of model homes so you can see what they’re capable of; others may have pictures on their business website or social media page. Most builders are proud of the beautiful work they accomplish and will happily show it for future customers to see.
4.       Will I be selecting the subcontractors? Some may allow you to enlist others to help them accomplish the building; others may have their own group of individuals that they choose to help them work. If so, don’t be afraid to research them and ask questions to them also. This is your house that’s being built, therefore you have the right to know who will be building it and in what ways they will be contributing to it.
5.       What type of warranty do you offer? This is also one of the most important questions you can ask a builder. Make sure they include what’s covered and what isn’t covered. As with all warranties, get it in writing as a backup.
6.       Am I allowed to make changes? Sometimes, it’s possible to change your mind on how a particular room will look, or maybe you’ve changed how many bedrooms you wanted upstairs. Find out if the contractor is open to this and what will be charged for changes.
7.       Will I be given invoices immediately? It’s your money; stay informed on what’s being charged to you.
8.       Should labor hours and cost of materials increase, will I be notified? It’s better to be kept in the loop so there are no surprises or unexpected burdens.
9.       (If they’re overseeing the building of several homes) How will this affect the time my home is built? Find out if their workload outside of your home will affect the building process and how they plan on working around it to fit your needs. See if they can give you a time estimate as to when your home will be ready to move into.
10.   Will it be an issue if I regularly visit the site to check in on progress? This is usually fine, however, it may be best to let the contractor know ahead of time so the grounds are safe for you to visit.
11.   Will you communicate with others who are working on the house? Plumbers, tile installers, interior designers and decorators, painters…the list goes on. It takes a team of wonderfully talented people to bring a house to life. That being said, it’s always a good thing when everyone involved communicates with each other so all are on the same page.
12.   Will I need a construction loan? Some companies offer financing for building.
13.   If I change my mind and select another builder, do you have a cancellation and refund policy? Find out if you will be able to get your money back should you decide to pick a different builder.
14.   When I should I choose cabinets, paint, flooring materials, lighting, etc.? They will give you their professional opinion on the right timing for all items needed in your home. Some may even be able to help you find those items at a cheaper rate.
15.   What are your strengths and weaknesses? Some may have specialties they can bring to the table when building your home. Don’t be afraid to search for online/social media reviews or ask previous customers about their experiences. It never hurts to get to know the one in charge of building your home. After all, you want to know what sets them apart from the rest.
16.    Have you owned your own construction business before? This is important in the case of fraudulent contractors starting a different business in a new name. As mentioned previously, don’t be afraid to research the contractor in mind. Websites, reviews, and even calls to your local Homeowners Association can help.
17.   What is your policy for fixing things in the future? Should something need to be repaired long after you’ve settled into your new home, will they return to fix the issue? This should be covered in your contract; if not, get it in writing to protect your home and to provide the reassurance that should a problem arise, they will be available to fix it.