Questions You Need To Ask Before Hiring a Home Builder
So you finally have the resources to acquire a home of your own. So which path would you want to take: buy a finished house, or build one from scratch? Admittedly, the former is a less stressful choice. The house is already there, and if you like most or everything about it, all you have to do next is to process the necessary documents, and you’ll have your own house in record time.
However, there’s just something about building a home from the ground up that makes it a palatable choice for most homeowners as well. Never mind that it requires more effort on their part and that it can get a bit more stressful and complicated. But as long as you get the services of a good home builder, constructing a brand new home would still be an excellent choice.
You will need to find the right builder for the job. In the course of your search, you will have to ask some candidates several questions that will help you determine if they’re perfect for your new home project. Here are some of those questions you need to ask before hiring a home builder.
Are you licensed and insured?
Licensed home builders are usually insured since most states require contractors to secure the proper contractors insurance policies before they grant them the license to operate.
With a licensed and insured home builder, you can be sure about a builder’s qualification for the job. You also have the assurance that you won’t be liable for any personal injury or property damage that could occur at the work site.
How long have you been building custom homes?
Length of experience is vital because it’s your one great assurance that a builder knows what he’s doing. On top of that, experienced builders also understand that a client’s input is crucial to the success of a project, so they are more likely to take your ideas to heart and incorporate them into their work.
Can you show me samples of your previous work?
It’s perfectly normal to ask for previous work samples. It’s the only way for you to know if the home builder has done good work in the past. If possible, ask the prospective home builder if he can take you to see his work in person.
Will you be working on this project exclusively?
If the home builder you’re eyeing is running a big operation and has no shortage of personnel and equipment, then taking on multiple projects shouldn’t be an issue. It would be a problem, however, if a small-time home builder is accepting projects left and right because they would be spreading themselves and their resources too thin, and that could significantly impact your project.
Are you willing to work where I want to build?
Some home builders might not be interested in working on your new home if it’s in a location that’s too far away or difficult to access. That’s why you need to make sure that your prospective home builder is willing to work where you want to build. You wouldn’t want to spring the location on a home builder after you’ve both signed a contract, as it might be a location he has no plans of going to on a regular basis.
How updated are you on building codes?
A good home builder keeps himself updated on building codes. You cannot hire a home builder who doesn’t know about changes to building codes, because you might end up being ordered to tear down what your builder has already constructed because he wasn’t aware it’s in violation of the current building code.
Do you offer a guarantee for your work?
A one-year warranty is par for the course for most home builders. Many of them, however, offer longer structural warranties, with some providing 10-year warranties at most.
Can you brief me on the safety procedures that you follow?
Having their own contractors insurance is one thing. Having safety procedures in place to avoid incidents that will necessitate an insurance claim is another. Professional home builders would rather have an incident-free project, so they are likely to observe safety precautions and have their own safety equipment for their people. You can easily spot bad contractors with this question, as they’ll give you uncertain answers which indicate they haven’t been giving safety much thought.
What is your timetable for the project?
If you ask them this question without giving them details about the project yet, and they provide you with an exact timetable, take it as a hint that the home builder you’re talking to is full of it, and isn’t likely the best candidate to build your home.
Good contractors don’t overpromise and under deliver. They take whatever details you give them, and provide only a rough estimate based on them. They could also change those estimates with any additional information you will give later.
How should I pay for your services?
In anything that involves contractor work, one that usually makes people wary about the whole thing is if the contractor—the home builder in this case—asks for cash up front. In the case of building an entire home from the ground up, it’s normal for a home builder to ask for some money up front, but you shouldn’t agree to pay the entire amount you agree on before any materials arrive on the site. So if the prospective home builder insists on the total payment before doing any work and delivering on materials, you should just scratch this home builder off your list.
How are we going to communicate?
A good home builder will deliver progress reports to you throughout the building process through phone, text, Skype, or even a software-driven system. Your builder should also meet you on site regularly during building to ensure you are happy with the work being done.
If you have more questions that pop up along the way, list them all down and ask them along with the questions listed above.
About The Author
Victoria Grace is the Content Specialist for Nucleus Construction, a Phoenix-based company that specializes in remodeling and building custom homes. When not writing, she enjoys reading books and riding her motorcycle.