You’ve decided to build a custom home in beautiful Cape Coral, but choosing a builder is very overwhelming. How are you supposed to know that the builder you choose is quality builder?
Many builders claim to be the best— which one IS the best? We’ve got some questions you can ask to help you through the decision process when you build your next home.
First of all, you should interview more than one builder; we feel that the minimum number of builders you should interview is 3-5. You want to be sure that the Cape Coral builder you decide upon is going to be compatible with the work you want done. When you decide which builders you’d like to interview, ask them the following questions:
- Do you hold a Florida building license?
It’s vital that your builder (and any subcontractors they use) is licensed and insured in your state. If your builder is licensed in Georgia, but you’re building in Florida, you’re going to need to find another builder.
- Do you offer a warranty on your work? What’s covered? What’s not covered?
This question often doesn’t occur to homeowners unless something goes awry. Instead of waiting for the worst to happen, get the builder’s answer in writing. If you decide to sign with that builder, be sure that the warranty info is included in the contract.
- How do you deal with change orders?
Change is a part of life, even for homeowners who have their plans all set. Be sure that your builder has a process in place for the inevitable changes in your plans.
- What’s your process for communicating increases in labor costs or materials?
Sometimes, as a project proceeds, the costs of estimated labor or materials might turn out to be more than originally projected. It’s important that your builder keep you abreast of any changes in budget so that you can note it, avoiding a nasty surprise when the project is finished.
- Do you currently have other homes under construction, and will my home’s construction be monitored closely?
Of course, you want your home to be a priority for your builder; if they’re overburdened, it’s possible that your home’s issues could fall between the cracks. If you feel confident that they have a plan in place and can effectively manage your product as well as their others, that should be satisfactory.
- How often can I expect construction updates?
This question is directly linked to the previous question; if your builder or site superintendent can decide upon a communication schedule that can work for both of you, that might be the best builder for you.
- Do you return emails or phone calls in a timely manner?
You must be confident that you builder is communicative; ask them how long it will take for a query to be answered. Do they return calls at certain times every day? Does the builder’s assistant handle his correspondence, lengthening the amount of time it takes to get an answer? If you have a good grasp on the builder’s communication style, you’ll know how long it should take to get a response.
- Is it a problem that I intend to visit the site frequently?
You’re excited to see your home’s progress, but it’s just smart to give your builder fair warning that you plan to do this; he can let the workers know that you intend to visit, so they will know it’s ok if they see you walking around the build site.
- Can you work directly with the designer of my house plans as well as my interior designer to ensure that my home is built as planned, or to make any changes we decide upon as the build progresses?
Your home is a group endeavor. If all the members of your team work together in a cohesive manner, the project is more likely to be successful. Be sure that everyone is willing to work as a team before the building begins.
- Can I speak to your references?
Ask your builder to provide references, and be sure to follow up with them. Ask them about their experience with the builder, specifically if there were issues and how the builder resolved them if they did arise. Also, be sure to ask if they’d use the builder again.
- What’s your estimate for completion now that I’ve shown you my plans?
You might have a date planned for move-in, but before you rent the truck, you should probably confirm that the schedule will work for your builder. There are other forces such as weather and your builder’s schedule that must be considered, so be sure to discuss this with your builder.
- Do I need to secure my own construction loan, or do you finance the construction?
Some builders prefer to finance the loan themselves, requiring that your financing institution pay them after you apply for the home loan for your completed home; others prefer that you handle the loan. Discuss this up front to eliminate any confusion when the building starts.
- How soon should I submit my choices for paint, flooring, cabinets, lighting, and all the other details?
You don’t want to hold up construction because you were unaware of the deadlines. Instead, request a firm timeline so you’re ready to answer the questions when the time comes.
- Did you ever own a construction company under another name?
The economic downturn from 2007-2011 hit the construction industry hard. Many builders faced bankruptcy, shuttered businesses, or, in the worst cases, disappeared altogether. When business picked up, some of the shadier builders came out of the woodwork, taking on a new name to avoid their responsibilities. Of course, there are good builders who didn’t partake in such actions, but it’s safe to do your homework before you sign a contract. Check with your state and local home builder’s association to thoroughly vet your builder; if they’ve got a sordid past, perhaps you should sign with another company.
- Do you have a process for making repairs after the project is completed and we’re moved in?
Some issues won’t be evident when you do your walkthrough; they’ll only be noticeable after some time is passed. Nail pops, cracks in the molding, or scratches in the paint are all small things that should be under your builder’s warranty. Be sure that you contact them with issues immediately, otherwise they could chalk up the problems to natural wear and tear.
With your questions in hand, you’re ready to find the builder that will help you turn your custom home dreams into a reality. SC Homes would love to help you achieve this; contact us for information about our processes today.