You’ve envisioned the perfect home for you and your family. You know just how you want the kitchen laid out. You have all of the finishes saved on a Pinterest board. There’s just one little technicality–you haven’t actually talked to the builder yet.
While many of us go into a new home construction project with the end result in mind, it’s important to think ahead to the construction process itself. If you are preparing to discuss your new home construction process with a home builder, here are some questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line.
Who is the builder and what is their background?
Knowing the builder and their reputation is an important first step in determining whether they are the right fit for you. It is also important to understand their background so that you can determine if their experience matches your desired outcome. For example, if your builder primarily builds smaller, entry-level homes, they are probably not the right choice for a large luxury home. If you are looking to build on a waterfront lot, you might want to choose someone with extensive experience with the particulars of waterfront home building.
Can they build on my property or only in their communities?
Not all builders are true custom builders. They may primarily work in their own communities or with standardized floor plans that don’t fit the specifics of your property. If you want a custom home on your land, it is important to ensure that the home builder you choose either designs the home from scratch or can customize existing designs to fit the specifics of your lot and its requirements.
What level of customization can I expect?
There are a number of areas that you might want to customize, both for their appearance and functionality. Elements such as kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms should be fairly easy to customize. However, if you are looking for specific outdoor areas, smart home or eco-friendly features, and other highly specific elements, you will want to discuss these early in the design process to ensure that you have the options you want.
What current and past projects can I look at? Can I talk to former clients?
Your builder should be open to allowing you to talk to previous clients and to allow you to visit completed home sites. In addition, some builders may be willing to let you check out sites currently under construction. This will help you get a good idea of what your process will be like. In addition, you may want to check for online reviews to see what the experience of prior clients was like. There are many websites and apps that offer the opportunity to check out ratings and reviews before you decide.
What type of financing is available? Are there special financing incentives available?
Financing on new construction works somewhat differently than a traditional mortgage process on a home resale. Incentives are sometimes available, but you may not be offered these if you don’t ask. In addition, lower interest rates and extended rate locks are often offered in order to allow you to carry a great rate all the way through the construction process.
Who will I communicate with during the process? How will communication be handled?
It is good for you to have someone to call or email when you have questions during the process. This may be a real estate agent or a building supervisor who you will be directed to communicate through. If you would like to set up a consistent schedule of communication throughout the process, see if that is a possibility. Perhaps a once-a-week check-in would be a good way to help ensure you stay informed and up-to-date on the progress of your build.
What are the extras and upgrades available? At what point do we need to finalize a design?
The builder should have a list of standard features and finishes as well as upgrades. Ensure you have thoroughly thought through these elements early in the process. You will also want to find out at what point the plan must be finalized since some builders will not allow you to make changes or upgrades once construction has begun. Unless you have a very clear idea of exactly what you want up front, you may need to look for someone who offers you some flexibility during the process.
When do upgrades need to be paid for?
Because they are not covered by the standard contract and because they often have to be special ordered, upgraded materials or processes may need to be paid for at the time they are purchased or installed. Make sure when you are choosing your upgrades that you also ask whether they will be looped into the total cost or whether they will be charged separately up front.
How long will the home take to build? What if there are delays?
Of course you will have some idea of how long the home will take to build, but you also have to be flexible, to a certain extent. Delays in material delivery, weather delays, and other unexpected elements can change the projected completion date. If you are selling a home based on a projected completion date, a significant delay can find you scrambling for a short-term rental, storage of your possessions and more. Know your home builder’s reputation for on-time delivery, but always keep in mind what type of backup plan you can create if the need arises.
Does the builder offer a warranty? What are its terms? Is a home inspection possible?
A builders warranty can provide peace of mind in ensuring that major systems will be covered in the event of a malfunction. Most builder warranties have one-year terms from date of completion. Knowing what the builder warranty covers and how long it lasts will help give you some reassurance. In addition, you may want to ask if your builder will allow you to bring in a home inspector at the end of the process to ensure that everything is as it should be. Just know that you will not be able to make the purchase contingent on a home inspection–the inspection will be for informational purposes only.
Building a home is an exciting undertaking, but it is important to keep your eye on some of the nuts and bolts rather than getting caught up in the more fun aspects of design and decor. Working with a knowledgeable, reliable, and experienced builder like Spear Builders of Virginia ensures that you can relax knowing that these important questions have been considered and that your satisfaction is at the forefront of the process. Contact us today to discuss how we can help make your custom build process a pleasure.