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Questions to Ask a Home Builder

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Compiling a list of questions to ask a home builder is just one of the preparations you should perform before making your first visit to seriously discuss your new home. By the time you visit a home builder you should already know exactly what you want in a home. You should have researched building materials and techniques. You should have already investigated all the home builders in your area, and you should have visited an open house and a construction site of at least one of this builder’s homes.

List of Questions to Ask a Home Builder: Keeping the Bids Fair

Being informed before visiting home builders should help you in compiling a list specific to each of the home builders you are considering. You should meet with at least three and probably not more than five home builders or contractors. It is vital that you present your dream home in exactly the same way to each of the home builders or contractors. Sometimes, one of the contractors or home builders will point out a vital problem with your design or a suggestion that you will want to incorporate into your design. If this happens, it is important to notify the other home builders you have changed your mind on this element, and to perhaps meet with them again to explain your change. Only by doing this can you keep your quotes fair and equal.

The Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder One: Would you help me select a lot, and decide how to place the home on the lot?
This is an important question. You should not select a lot before talking to the home builder who will be building the home. Land feature, such as underground springs, and low spots can lead to water damage and flooding. Hills can add expense to grading. Tree removal should be discussed while on site. These kinds of questions are best answered by an experienced home builder.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Two: Can I visit the construction site of my home any time?

This is a vital question. While home builders do not want you to interrupt the work, or pester their crew, it is vital that you have the right to inspect work, talk to the crew, and know exactly what is going on in your home. A good rule of thumb is to visit the site for half an hour once or twice a week. Ask if this would be a problem. Most home building horror stories could have been averted if the home buyer had inspected the site during framing.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Three: Can I feel free to call you with any questions I have about my home?

Access to the ear of your homebuilder or contractor should be insured. He’s busy, so you should not pester him weekly, but if you have questions or concerns occasionally, he should be available.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Four: What type and thickness of plywood do you use for sheathing the walls, roof and for subfloor?

Research to insure that your plywood is of adequate thickness, and that it is water resistant. Consider the fact that your roof should be able to support your weight, in the event you must perform repairs. Your roof must be able to support the weight of snow, and your weigh or a roofer’s weight, even after your home ages. People have been seriously injured, when falling through roof sheathing. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Don’t be afraid to insist on 3/4 or at least 5/8ths plywood on your roof.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Five: Do you use 2 by 10 or 2 by 12 lumber for floor joists?

The size of a floor joist is very important, as is their distance apart from each other. Some builders use 2 by 8 joists, but place them closer together. This is OK in some instances, but if joists will be closer together, but 2 by 10 is a better standard. You may also want to ask for a higher crawl space. If you have ever been under a crawl space, you know why. Remember if a plumbing pipe breaks, someone will have to crawl under the house to fix it. If that someone is you or your spouse, you will appreciate the extra height.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Six: Do you use 2 by 6 studs for walls?

The industry standard was 2 by 4 studs for years, but the modern quickly grown pine, grown under controlled conditions, is not as strong as old forest pine. Use 2 by 6 lumber for additional insulation and a stronger home. Those extra two inches, packed with more closed cell insulation make a substantial difference on R-value.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Seven: Will studs and joists be placed 18-inches-on-center, 16-inches-on-center, or closer?

Building code specifications may vary, but in most states it’s either 18 or 16 inches. Closer creates an even stronger home, but of course adds to cost.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Eight: How can we insure that the house complies with the codes?

This would usually apply when dealing with non-standard materials other than lumber. Codes are very specific on lumber specifications, and yet sometimes contractors get away with breaking codes. Insure codes are followed by inspecting the job site. However, various green materials may meet with opposition from the building department and loan provider. You will need to discuss the potential for this problem.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Nine: Can I get a signed list of materials and specifications in writing?

With an honest contractor this should be no problem, and it only avoids confusion later on. It protects him as much as you.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Ten: Do you own the company, or are you part of some franchise, or are you an employee of a large corporation?

This is very important to know, because it determines just how much authority the person you are dealing with has over the quality of your home. Talking with a hired salesman is far different than speaking to the person who will actually be responsible for the construction of your home. Corporations are famous for passing the buck, so it is good in these cases to at least speak to the job site supervisor who will actually build your home. Even in smaller, local contractor offices, you may be speaking with some sort of salesman. Before finalizing the deal, you should be able to meet with various experts within the company.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Eleven: Do you have your own crew?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it is important to know which, and to inquire about experience.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Twelve: Do you work with an architect?

It is a plus if the home builder has access to an architect, but the real guise of this question is: Are you going to have an architect design a home to my specifications, or will you just adapt an existing home plan to build my home. Will the adaptations be passed by an architect, or will you just change the plan yourself. Some home builders have a lot of expertise in changing floor plans. If you otherwise have confidence in your home builder, this is not a red flag. It is important to know though, and you will pay a lot extra for a custom design from an architect. Knowing the answer to this question though, is part of keeping the bids fair.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Thirteen: Is your company bonded and insured?

There is no licensure for home builders in most areas. Being insured is a must. If they don’t have insurance, you will have to buy the insurance yourself. Being bonded means more to some people than others. In general, being bonded is nice, but it has nothing to do with skill level.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Fourteen: Which of your subcontractors are licensed, bonded or insured?

At the very least, plumbers and electricians should be licensed and insured. Carpenters are not always licensed, and many states do not even have any sort of license or certification for carpenters. Experience, integrity and quality of work is most important in carpenters. Carpenters can generally be judged by their past work.

Top Questions To Ask a Home Builder Fifteen: I will not sign any kind of arbitration clause! Will that be a problem?

Never sign an arbitration clause. This is a promise not to sue, no matter what. In my opinion the arbitration clause is the mark of a dishonest contractor, who does not intend to provide you with a satisfactory home. Your home should come with a warranty, not a clause to protect the builder in the event of a lawsuit.

Building companies vary in size and company structure. Some people may feel comfortable working with a huge corporation, while others prefer a handshake deal with a trusted member of their community. Many people seek very small builders, who will give intense individual attention to each aspect of their home. A small business contractor may be a carpenter who together with a crew of three or four, will frame your home, and hire subcontractors for grading, plumbing, and electrical work. Which type of builder you prefer is a personal choice. It is important to use your list of questions to ask a home builder to determine if each builder is the right one for you.

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