The first question people should ask is: what is the worst thing that could possibly happen, if I don’t figure out what to ask when choosing a home builder?. Selecting the wrong contractor or home builder can be, at the very least, annoying, and sometimes it can even ruin your life and destroy your credit. You can end up owning $300,000 on a pile of rubble. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, so it pays to find out.
Ask these questions for every home builder you consider. Most of these are questions you should have answers to before you ever speak to the contractor. Conduct your own research to narrow your choices. When visiting the contractor, simply evaluate the few questions you have left, clarify the types of materials you want and ask for a bid.
• Is there anything negative on line about the company, or the individuals who work there?
• Are there any lawsuits pending against this home builder, or his subcontractors?
• Which contractors and homebuilders do most Realtors recommend?
• Which homebuilder and contractors do the building inspectors recommend?
• Which homebuilders and contractors do the local loan officers recommend?
• How do homeowners who have homes built by this homebuilder feel about their homes, and their homebuilding experience?
• Do homes built by this contractor look like the home I want?
• Visit open houses to inspect homes by local builders. How well built is the house?
• Visit home construction sites to get a feel for how things are going. How does the structure look while it is still under construction? Check to see if wall studs are 2 by 4 or 2 by 6 inches, inspect the work if the subcontractors don’t mind.
• What sort of reputation does this builder have?
• What is the average price range of the homes he builds? (if he’s outside your price range it may be better to consider another builder)
• Do his subcontractors and employees have adequate license, certifications, or experience?
• How easy is he to talk to?
• Do you feel he is being honest?
• What quality of home is he selling, and will you be satisfied with it?
• Does he typically use top quality materials, of adequate size?
• Can you name at least one top quality home he built that you think is well constructed?
• Is he asking you to sign an arbitration contract, to forfeit your right to sue? If so bid him good-bye.
Be careful what you sign when visiting a contractor, and read everything, even if they expect you to just sign without reading. The best strategy is to tell them you never do that, and that you want your attorney to look it over, or that you would like to look at it for a while, and actually read it.
Bids received from a contractor should included a materials list, which lists the actual building materials, such as wall studs, roofing shingles and sheathing materials, not just the interior decorating options. Make sure that these fit your expectations and specifications. Make sure this list is signed by both you and the builder or contractor, and examine it well before you sign.
Most homebuilders are really nice people who want to build a great house. They take pride in their work, and deserve respect. Don’t give that other kind of contractor a chance to ruin your life. Knowing what questions to ask when choosing a home builder can make the home building process go much smoother.