questions to ask a home builder

Questions to Ask When Hiring a General Contractor for your Home

Building the house of your dreams can be one of the most rewarding, and at times stressful, experiences of your life. It’s an investment that not only relies on plenty of time and money, but also requires pristine collaboration between you and your home building team to truly pay off in the end. Hiring the right general contractor to work with you side-by-side throughout the entire construction process depends a lot on your initial screening procedure when choosing between potential candidates. Here are five essential questions to ask any general contractor you have in mind, as well as what answers you should hope to hear, so you can get on track to eventually waking up in the house you’ve always dreamed of:

Credentials, Credentials, Credentials

First things first, you’ll need to inquire with your candidate on their qualifications and credentials. Go over their background as a home builder, and get a feeling for how well they know the area. Always ask for as many references they can offer as possible, and never hesitate to reach out to previous clients to gauge how satisfied they are with their home. When asking about their building experience, ask about how the previous homes they’ve worked on apply to the home you’re trying to see built. Obviously, if you’re trying to build a modern bungalow or craftsman style home and the candidate specializes in more colonial architecture houses, it’s probably best to continue searching for a better fit. Make sure you see their residential building contractor license, and review their insurance coverage. Remember, you’re the employer here, so don’t be shy when it comes to inquiring more about a candidate’s resume.

Communication Breakdown

Successful collaboration depends on effective communication, so you’ll want to find out how your home builder plans on working alongside you during the building process. Creating a custom home is an undertaking that will take many months, even years, and butting heads will only make the procedure take even longer. Discuss how comfortable they are building the housing design and style you’ve selected, but also dig deeper into how they interpret or plan to adjust any ideas you have in mind. Review how questions or reservations during construction will be handled between you two, and make sure you both are on the same page for a projected timeline of when construction will be complete.

Meet The Team

It’s important to not only get a feel for the home builder representative, but to also interact with other members of their home building team. Ask the home builder how often they plan on being at the project site, and whether they can introduce you to the project manager or superintendent. Try to get a better understanding of what everyone’s role is throughout the construction process, and talk to them individually on what they’re plans are for bringing your vision to life. If a project manager provides answers that differ with what your home builder representative is telling you, it could be cause for concern.

Review Compensation Methods

When it comes down to discussing the financial end of the project, you need to ensure from your custom home builder that all details for payment requests are finalized, so you’ll avoid any unforeseen fees that may arise further down the road. Ask about their method for determining the total costs of the project, and be sure to settle on a final budget. Go over how they plan to be compensated for any pre-construction services, and walk away from your meeting with a detailed list of specifications that outline all the fees and costs being applied to building your home. Finally, be sure to review their warranty offer, and discuss compensation scenarios if housing issues arise in the future.

Obtain Documents

After you’ve interviewed the builder on construction plans, project timelines, and compensation agreements, you’ll need them to provide you with the necessary documents that outline every little detail that’s going into your house. Starting with a sample contract and budget proposal, ask your builder to print you everything from the warranty agreement, a fully detailed construction schedule, and a lien waiver that states all your legal rights. Keep all these documents and receipts in a secure place, and hang on to them even after construction is complete.   

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Dan Moller
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I think it’s important to have an experienced building contractor to make sure that everything is done skillfully. If I were to have our dream house built, I wouldn’t think twice of calling a construction company to assist with the whole process so I can make sure that everything is done properly, from the designing to the building itself. I reckon that it’s not just because someone you know recommended an agent should be the reason that you hire them, it would be best to perform an interview and/or a background check first — to really assess if they are… Read more »