15 Questions to ask when building a home

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Building your dream home can be a tough endeavor to take on; choosing paint colors and flooring from copious amounts of samples; choosing the right appliances; overseeing the timing of the project and so much more.  However, the most important aspect of building is everything that comes right after you determine that you want to build.

First and foremost lay out your plan.  Do you have a current home you must sell to build your new home? If it sells quickly, do you have a place to live until your new home is built? Does you builder allow a contingency that will allow you to sell the home prior to closing on the new home?  An experienced Realtor can help you navigate the hundreds of questions that come up during the process.

Next, what is your budget? Speak with an experienced lender to help you ascertain the budget you are most comfortable with.  Some builders offer their own financing if they are a larger builder.  Many offer incentives to use their lenders.  However, always make sure to speak to your own lender to determine what their incentives are and what “fluff” may have been attached to the builder’s lending fees.

Once you are able to answer these questions firmly, it’s time to interview builders in the area.  The most important questions to ask:

  1. “Are you licensed and insured in the state I am building?”.  Ask for copies of their license, do your research on-line, and ask friends and family if they have heard anything about the builder.  You can also ask the builder for references on homes they have previously built and whether you can be call to speak with them.
  2. “My budget is this__________. Can you build my home for that amount?”Ask them what it includes as far as finishes and appliances, lighting, and other fixtures.
  3. “Do you have a model I can walk through?”  Some smaller builders do not have the luxury of having a model home available.  However, going back to previous clients, one may be willing to allow you a tour of their home. Take every effort to tour if you can.  A blueprint looks very different from the real thing.
  4. “Are their any special incentives for the project?”  This question pretty much speaks for itself.  Lender incentives may be an option, as well as the builder may have their own.  Get it in writing so you have a record.
  5. “What kind of warranty do you offer and what IS and IS NOT covered?”  In most circumstances a new build comes with a warranty.  Make sure however, you get this in writing and that it is part of the builder’s contract before signing.
  6. “How do you handle change orders?”  Everyone changes their mind so make sure you understand how the builder deals with change orders.  It is also a good thing to have the builder keep you in the loop on price changes so you know how your budget may be affected.
  7. “If there are increases in materials or labor cost, will you let me know immediately?”  Be kept in the loop at all times so there are no surprises to your budget in the end.
  8. “If there is a problem with one of the sub-contractors that you hired, how will this problem be handled?” If cabinets are hung wrong or there is an issue with a finish how will the builder handle it.  Especially if the contractor goes out of business or is unable to be located.
  9. “Is there a list of vendors I will need to meet with?”  One of the things about building is that is can in essence be very time consuming.  It’s best to know what vendors you will need to meet with and have a timeline made available to you to make the most of your time.
  10. “How long will my home take to build and what happens if the date isn’t met?”  Issues can arise and weather happens that can impede a closing date.  Be in the loop and find out if an extension will cost you or if the builder has built in extra days to make the date.
  11. “When do extras need to be paid? At close or upfront?”  If you do change your mind or if materials do increase in price, make sure you how the builder handles it.  Will you have to pay prior to the work being completed or can it be wrapped in the loan?
  12. “How quickly will the punch items be completed after the final walk through is done?”  Paint chips, nail pops and the like, happen.  Know what the timeline is for the builder to come back to correct the issues.  There are usually a number of days built into the contract.  Definitely make sure it is built into it if it is not.
  13. “Do you offer any energy saving features in your home?”  Many buyers now-a-days are interested in energy features such as green windows, insulation, appliances and more.  If energy savings is of interests make sure you know how much more this might cost you and what energy options specifically are available.
  14. “Is there a Home Owner’s Association or special covenants?”  HOA’s usually involve a monthly or annual fee.  As well as special do’s and don’ts for the property.  If there is an HOA or special covenants, the information needs to be given to you once you put your money into escrow.  You usually will get a certain number of days to determine if you want to continue with the build knowing more about the terms of the community.
  15. “Will I be able to do a home inspection prior to closing on the home?”  Even though it’s a new build there could still be issues or mistakes made.  Make sure that getting an inspection is allowed if you determine that is important to you.


Click Here to Download Our List of Questions to take along with you when interviewing prospective builders.