14 questions to ask your homebuilder
The process of progressing your dream home from vision to move-in should be an exciting experience. Choosing the right homebuilder is the first step toward ensuring your satisfaction. As you are interviewing them, here are 14 questions to ask your homebuilder before making this important choice.
- Do I need to have my own land? Some builders may require that you own land and can use it as equity and others can assist with financing that involves the purchase of that dream piece of property. Makes sure you understand what the expectations are from builder to builder.
- Can I provide my own plans or do I need to choose one of yours? Some homebuilders will not even alter their in-house plans much less entertain another designer's plans. Make sure to figure out the latitude you will have in actively being able to design and bring to fruition, your dream home.
- How many homes like the one I'm looking for have you built in this area? When a homebuilder is familiar with the geography, regulations, and challenges of building a home of a particular size and with certain features, you have the peace of mind that he is experienced with successfully navigating each one. That means timely construction without unanticipated overruns.
- Are you licensed and insured? Protect yourself by choosing a builder who can provide proof of insurance and a current builder's license for the state where your home will be built.
- Do you offer a financing option? Is there a preferred lender you use? It can be convenient to use a homebuilder's preferred lender, and they might offer better options than another lender. Before you decide on your homebuilder, determine your choices and whether or not you must use a preferred lender.
- What is standard in your homes and what is considered an upgrade? You need to determine what's included in your price, so you're comparing apples to apples with all of your homebuilders. Some standard features are options for other builders. Be clear about what you're getting, particularly for those features that are important to you.
- Can I make changes after the construction has begun? It will cost more to make changes, and that price often goes up the farther along your home is in the building process. Discuss how your homebuilder handles changes so you know what to expect.
- What type of home warranty do you include? Appliances are covered by the manufacturer's warranty. The quality of the structure (workmanship, systems, materials) should be covered by the builder's warranty. The builder will specify the time period, so ask how long they guarantee your home and how repairs are handled during this time.
- What energy-efficient features do you include? Today's appliances, construction materials (windows, doors, insulation), and HVAC systems are geared toward energy efficiency. Ask each builder to explain the extent of their energy efficient commitment.
- Can you provide references from your homeowners, and can I tour a few of your homes? With any major purchase, you check reviews of past customers. Don't be shy about asking for references. A reliable homebuilder will proudly share his successes.
- Who will be in charge of building my home? Can I meet this person? The builder or project manager will become your close friend during the construction of your custom home. Learn that person's experience and then talk to him before making your decision. Is he easy to work with and accessible? Does he understand and appreciate your concerns? How is communication handled?
- How are site improvements handled? You need to determine how the homebuilder handles site improvements like septic, wells, grading and permits. Some charge expensive fees on top of the actual cost and others may include the funds in the loan, but expect you to do the work. Be clear about how this will work, particularly if their process adds expense.
- How often can I tour the worksite? It's your home, and you should be able to visit during construction, but showing up unannounced or too frequently can impede the progress. Determine the best process and schedule for arranging these tours.
- What is the estimated time to complete the homebuilding? When can you start? One builder might be able to complete your home in four months but has a backlog and can't start soon enough to meet your deadline. Ask for realistic start and completion dates, and any factors that will impact them.