Top Five Questions to Ask a Home Builder
Here's what you need to know before construction starts
What sets you apart from other builders?
There are many builders out there to choose from, and knowing what to look for can be the difference between your dream home or your nightmare. The home builder you select should offer a unique value proposition that gives you the confidence they are the best choice to trust with your investment in your future. Some examples include a mastery of a particular style and finishing, included professional interior design services, or a proven process to boost efficiencies and maximize value for every dollar. If a home builder you’re interviewing can’t highlight what sets them apart from the pack, swipe left and keep looking.
How many homes have you built?
A home builder's longevity underscores the proven competency, processes, innovations and overall success that are only distilled through years of experience. This question filters out the inexperienced newcomers to the industry that may talk the talk, but are still learning to walk. Avoid employing home builders with few completed homes under their belt, regardless of their best intentions or hard work ethic. Remember, hard work doesn’t steer clear of the costly mistakes that inexperience can bring. Take confidence in hiring a seasoned and established expert with scores of homes built.
What awards or recognition have you achieved?
Coveted industry awards forge a home builder's reputation and commitment to integrity, quality, and service. These are the badges of honor and validation that customers expect when planning the most important purchase of their lives. A recognized builder’s accolades speak volumes among the noise of competitors, not to mention customer testimonials. Hearing from delighted past customers sets your expectations and is key to solidifying your choice in a home builder. Be sure to factor this in as you begin your search.
How and when will the final price for my home be determined?
This is the litmus test that separates home builders with proven systems that precisely estimate total project costs before they begin, versus other builder’s "guesstimating" that results in disastrous budget failures. The primary objectives you are looking for are delivering a home on time and on budget – in addition to expert craftsmanship and max value. Fixed-price contracts are often preferred to clearly estimate and map out the project, keeping progress on track to complete at the price agreed upon. Beware of some builders that promise one price initially, but then their “cost plus” contract avalanches into cascades of change orders that leave the customer frustrated with the sticker shock of the actual cost of their project in the end. This is where being knowledgeable about the type of builder contract offered, as well as reviews and testimonials will help you filter and discern home builder’s you can trust.
What standard features or options do your homes include?
It’s important to know what standard products a home builder includes to assess their quality and value for the price compared to competitors. These are also imperative to define from the start, to avoid any misunderstandings of what is and is not included and what options are available in-lieu-of the standard inclusions. These items will reveal the value of your home overall, based on the level of quality of items like doors, windows, flooring, hardware, cabinets, counter-tops, fixtures, appliances and finishing. A savvy customer will be certain to ask what is not included to better understand additional costs they will be responsible for and budget accordingly.
Trent Minshall is a sales counselor for Thomas Sattler Homes. Contact him at 720-449-3562.