Having a brand-new home built feels exciting, but it’s also a time when conducting your due diligence up front will pay off for you. Whether this is your first rodeo or you’re doing this again, these questions will help you get important ideas as to whether your chosen new home is worth the yearlong commitment.
What is your experience in construction?
Constructing good-quality, durable homes that fit your unique personality and needs is a specialty skill gained through experience. Before signing the contract with a home builder, do your research on what their experience is and if it fits your requirements.
Are you local to my area, or are you familiar with my area?
Even if the builder’s main office is the next state over, your builder should have local knowledge of the area’s geography, architectural styles, and building styles. The builder should be able to show you how they will make your house unique while fitting into the local area.
What kinds of houses do you build?
Some builders prefer to build the same style over and over - and if you want that style, all the better for you! Other builders might have experience with many styles such as ranch, two-story, or even multigenerational plans; this provides more options as you determine what’s important to you.
Can I choose my design options, like kitchen cabinetry or tiling?
All new home builders know that their buyers want quality features that don’t need to be upgraded, but also want the freedom to personalize to their tastes. Find out how much personalization each builder offers, and definitely don’t assume that all builders provide the same options - they don’t!
How long is the process of home building?
While some builders put up whole neighborhoods at a time for convenient and quick closing periods, others prefer to build custom for each client. There’s no right or wrong here – you might love the matching look of a neighborhood filled with similar homes – or you might prefer to live in that unique house on the corner! However, for the unique house, you will likely need to plan ahead – in 2022, with labor and material shortages, builders are estimating up to 18 months from contract to close.
Can you build in energy-efficient features?
Any home builder worth their salt will offer energy efficient features as a normal line item, for several reasons. First, many states are legally requiring new homes to be built to specific energy standards, and are including those energy calculations in the permitting process. Second, the demand for energy efficiency is high! A builder who is uninterested in energy efficiency is not one you should consider working with, because what other corners will they cut?
New homes are generally more energy efficient than older homes, but you still have control over how efficient your new home will be. When you are considering the design, ask about the projected HERS ratings (Home Energy Rating System), which are industry standards for rating your home’s energy efficiency.
Tell me about your warranty policy.
One way of knowing whether a builder is trustworthy is to find out if they offer a good home warranty. Be careful to read the fine print, because if you find a defect in the home later, some warranties are difficult to use.
How much communication will we have post-closing?
Same as with the home warranty, it’s important to understand what services the builder offers post closing. For example, follow-up visits after you’ve moved in to check on everything can do a lot for your long-term satisfaction.
Gathering this important information at the beginning will help you have a good relationship with a builder you can trust, allowing you to enjoy the home building process for what it should be—an exciting new chapter in your life. So, make sure to ask!