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10 Must-Ask Questions for Your Home Builder

10 Must-Ask Questions for Your Home Builder

It should go without saying that purchasing a home is one of the largest, if not – the largest, purchase that a person will ever make. So, if you decide to build your own home, it is imperative that your voice be heard. After all, unless you’re planning to pay cash up front for your purchase, you will be paying for your new home for the next 15-30 years. What you think matters.

But, where do you start? If you’ve looked into the home-building process and met with possible builders, it probably seems that they’ve got everything planned out for you. They’ve gone through this process before, so their way has got to be right… right?!

Sure, a builder may be able to offer you smooth-sailing throughout the build process, but there are several things that you’ll want to know before you go along for that ride. Here are 10 questions that you – or your realtor – should ask your home builder before and during your home-building process:

  1. What is the average build time? A savvy home salesperson may tell you that your builder has turned a new home around in four to five months. Your contract may state that your builder has a year or more to complete your new home. But, if you’re currently renting or planning to sell a home before moving in, you’ll want to get a more accurate estimate of your build time. Your builder won’t be able to nail that time down to the day, but they should be able to provide you with an average build timeline.


  2. Can I see homes you’ve built and/or speak with other clients/references? Any reliable builder should be happy to show off their work. Ask to tour through a builder’s model homes, spec homes and even homes that they are currently working on. Find out if it is possible for you to talk with other people who’ve recently built with your builder. You can never have too much proof that you’ve chosen the right builder.


  3. What kind of incentives do you and/or your preferred lender offer? When it comes to building a home, there always are some kinds of incentives. A builder may be offering a certain amount of free upgrades that you’ve got to use or you’ll lose. They may also be offering other discounts. A builder’s preferred lender may be willing to contribute toward closing costs or they may be offering special rates. Asking for available incentives could put upgrades in your home while keeping some money in your pocket.


  4. What features are standard? When you tour through a builder’s model home, you are likely to be enamored with the options. High-end flooring, cabinets and countertops that you see in a model home may not come standard in every home. Before you agree to options that are out of your price range, find out what a builder’s standard options are – then find out what the costs are for those eye-catching upgrades.


  5. How and when can I make changes to the building plans? Speaking of standard features and upgrades, when you’re building your home, it is likely that you will want to make some changes… even after you’ve already agreed on all options. However, making changes to a new construction can be costly. Find out up front what your builder’s process is for amending building plans or altering your agreed-upon contract.


  6. What access will I have to my home during the build process? Since buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’re likely ever going to make, it is only natural that you would want to monitor the build process. You should be allowed to tour through your home as it is being constructed. But, you shouldn’t violate building regulations or interrupt construction to do so. Ask your realtor or builder when you may be able to tour through your home and when you may be able to talk with the construction supervisor about any build processes.


  7. When should I expect to hear from you during the build process? Because the home-building process can be a lengthy one, communication between the builder and buyer is key. Your builder should keep you apprised of what progress they are making on your home as home-building milestones are being reached. Ask your builder when you can expect to hear from them and how you can contact them when you feel you need to.  


  8. Is there a Home Owners Association (HOA)? When you sign on to build a new home, you will have a good idea of what your mortgage and property taxes will be. However, many new developments may come with an HOA, which can carry additional monthly or annual fees. Find out if your new community has an HOA and find out what costs are involved. Also, ask your builder for a copy of the HOA bylaws.


  9. What are the home inspection and warranty processes? By law, your home will be inspected at various times throughout the build process. Of course, once your home is finished, you’ll also complete an inspection and walk-through. Work with your realtor and builder to arrange all inspections and find out what the warranty process is. Newly-built homes are bound to have minor issues during the first year or so. You’ll need to know what your builder will do to correct any of those new construction issues.


  10. If an issue arises during the build process, what is your cancellation and refund policy? If you decide to build a new home, you will probably put a certain amount of earnest money down in the beginning of the process. If you would decide to walk away from the work-in-progress for any reason during the build process, find out what your builder’s cancellation policy is and if you may be able to recoup any of that earnest money.

Building a new home should be an exciting experience. Though these 10 questions may seem tough, they’ll keep you, your realtor and your builder accountable during the build process. And, asking these tough questions up front may make for a smooth transition into your newly-built home.

Need some help asking your builder the tough questions? Contact a professional, experienced Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty agent today who can assist you through the entire build process.