Eleven questions you should ask when...

Selecting the Best Home Builder for You

Choosing the best home builder for your dream home, or even your next getaway home UpNorth, can be a daunting task. So many builders with varying levels of experience and quality workmanship can create endless layers of stress. The right builder has all the right answers and the real-life examples to back them up.

These questions will assist you to better understand key steps in the building methods and the choices you’ll make, in combination with the builder, to bring your home to life. The following are 19 essential questions to ask a builder when building a home in Ontario:

How long have you been building in the area?

Choose a qualified reputable builder who has been building in your area for no less than five years. The experienced builder will know the area landscape, storm drainage, property boundaries, property values, sewer and water locations, electrical power and natural gas availability, traffic patterns, building codes and inspections, and the neighborhood desirability.

Does this builder have excellent tradesman?

A good custom homebuilder and his trades will care about the construction of your new home as if it were their own. They should be willing to communicate with you as often as necessary and be willing to offer opinions or suggestions so you can make quality decisions.

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Can you give me 3 previous clients in the area as references?

Ask his previous clients about the contractor’s ability to do a good job. Contractors may not always be perfect, but if they care about their work and care about customer satisfaction the finished work will be up to your expectations.  Visit our testimonials page for an example of the kind of references you want to see from a builder.

What’s your warranty and how do you handle issues?

Any reputable builder will have a 1-year warranty and some will even have a 10-year structural warranty. What you want to understand, with this question, is how does the builder handle borderline warranty items? What happens if an issue comes up in month 14? Is it’s time up or will he help you out? This is typically a great question to ask past customers as well.

Does the builder offer interior design assistance in selecting the home’s finishes?

Building a new home involves a lot of decisions, especially when it comes to selecting items like cabinets, counters, light/plumbing fixtures, paint colors, etc. For many people, it can be overwhelming. An experienced designer can walk you through the process. Make sure you’re not on your own and the builder has someone to guide you through the selection process.

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How do you ensure that I will not exceed my budget?

Yet another question that past customers will help you confirm, but here’s where you want to know how the builder does his purchasing. Does he obtain multiple quotes? When does he provide quotes to you? How are changes estimated? It’s critical to feel confident that your builder will work with you to keep you within your budget and communicate how changes impact the budget.

What’s the timeframe to build a home and how do we make sure we don’t exceed it?

The experience of past customers will once again give you an indication of reality, but it’s important to get an honest estimate of the timeframe prior to any agreement. This isn’t the time for your builder to be a hero, so be wary of a timeline that seems overly optimistic. Additionally, ask what tools the builder utilizes to track their schedule and progress. Like any complicated project, a custom home has 30+ suppliers and sub-contractors that need to be coordinated. A builder of a custom home without a detailed written schedule is similar to the waiter that doesn’t write down your order – you can bet it won’t be right!

Can you provide me detail specifications and cost?

The devil is ALWAYS in the details and this is certainly true when building a new home. You must get clear, detail specifications and costs from your builder. If anything is unclear, get it clarified. If items important to you are not spelled out, make sure that they are. If you are trying to compare 2 proposals, you have to make sure the details match to be able to compare apples to apples.

What’s included and what’s NOT included?

This goes hand in hand with detailed pricing. There are many items that go into the full cost of building a home. The land cost is clear, but there are some grey areas when it comes to the home construction. Ask about surveying, construction plans, existing home demolition, insurance, permit fees, impact fees, tree trimming/removal, fencing, etc. These items need to be considered to determine the full cost.

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How do you make sure that my home will be energy efficient?

It’s important to understand what your initial costs are for your home, but once you are moved-in, the ongoing expenses begin. There isn’t much a builder can do regarding property insurance and property taxes, but they can assist with your utility bills. Make sure you understand what features will benefit your electric, gas and water consumption. Key areas are insulation, windows, doors, HVAC systems, etc.

What’s the most important thing to consider when selecting a builder? How they communicate…

Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints from homeowners about their builder. So how do you avoid it? This is another area where your conversations with past customers will reveal the real story. You’ll want to know if the builder responds to your requests in a timely manner and how accessible he is. Does he communicate in a way that works for you? Given the prevalence of technology in our communications with email, texts and internet access, find out how your builder utilizes technology to improve communication with you.

At Harbor View Custom Builders, we will happy answer all of your questions and concerns with expert-level professionalism. Our team of architects, interior designers, furniture builders and tradesmen are second to none in Northern Michigan.  Contact us today for an appointment, you’ll be happy you did.