So you’re ready to build your dream home - congratulations! Now comes the next challenge: finding the right builder to take on your project and bring your home to life. No matter who you work with, here are questions to ask your homebuilder before starting a project:
“What is your background in construction? How did you get to this point, and what work have you done in the past that qualifies you for this project?”
Understanding your builders’ experience will help you understand whether they’re qualified to build your project, and also whether they have any skills that might be helpful in other aspects of your project. For example, if your builder has demonstrated strong communication or project management skills, you can likely be confident that they’ll do a good job managing their team, and provide you with strong communication and regular status updates throughout your project.
You may also want to ask them for examples of other projects they’ve worked on, and if possible, drive by homes they’ve built to get a sense of their skills and abilities.
“How is the bid formatted? What does the bid include?”
Bids can be set up in a variety of ways, and may be a cost + percentage, cost + flat rate, or hard set number. Here at Prestige Custom Builders, we generally bid at a cost + flat rate, so the client knows what they are paying up front, and to help us maintain transparency in costs and expenses.
“I like showing the homeowner what is in the budget so that they don’t feel like I am hiding money in the job or inflating the budget,” says Landon Wright, Founder and Builder at Prestige Custom Builders.
Also, make sure you know what the bid includes– not just the elements and finishes, but the quality of said elements and finishes. What fixtures will the builder be using? What brand of paint - is it top of the line, or bottom barrel? What type of windows will be installed? Being clear on all elements going into your new home will help you understand the value of the work the builder will do, and avoid installing cheap fixtures and finishes that will need to be replaced.
“Can you give me some prices of houses you’ve done in the past? Can you give me some prices for your last three projects? Can you give me some prices for comparable projects?”
Please do NOT ask your home builder, “What’s your ballpark price per square foot?”
“It’s completely different per house, per location and it’s hard to pinpoint without a blueprint, which means that builders are making an educated guess, likely overestimating to give them room,” Wright says. “For example, lumber is very expensive. The piling depth (the pole that is driven into the ground that the house sits on top of) and the size of the deck can run a project up, or down, depending on the amount of lumber needed.”
Instead, understanding your builder’s pricing for previous projects may help you get a sense of what costs would look like for your project, and requesting a detailed bid from your builder is an even better way to get a project priced out.
“What will our relationship look like? How often will we be in communication? How often will I receive updates? How will I receive updates if I’m offsite? (e.g., Zoom, Facetime, emails, texts?)”
Every builder’s process is a little different, so having a conversation upfront about expectations in terms of communication can ensure you’re aligned, and set expectations for your relationship throughout the project.
“What trades or subcontractors will you be hiring as a part of this project? Can you set a realistic expectation for what the hiring process will look like?”
Does your builder have established relationships with any subcontractors or trade partners in the area of your project? Will they need to find new partners for any aspect of the project? How will they go about hiring subcontractors, and ensure the work meets expectations?
“Does this sound like an ideal project type for you? What is your schedule for taking on a project like this? When would the project start? What is the approximate timeline for project completion?”
There’s always a chance that a builder, no matter how qualified and experienced they are, may not be the best fit for your project. Whether they prefer different project types, are over- or under-qualified, or their timeline is out of alignment with your needs, asking questions like this upfront can help manage expectations and set you both up for success! If for whatever reason your builder decides they are not the best fit for your project, they can likely refer you to someone who may be a better option.
Bonus question from Realtor Kati Hall: “What comes with the builder warranty?”
Make sure you know what repairs or maintenance items might be covered, should anything in your home go wrong after the project is completed. A home is a big investment, and you want to be sure it’s protected!
Ready to build your new home? Prestige Custom Builders could be a great fit, and we’d love to answer any of the above questions for you and your project! Give Landon a call at 409-313-3383 to get started.