How to Interview Your Builder
How do you get all the information possible about your builder before you enter into a contract? We know that hindsight is always excellent, but the only ones that have hindsight on your builder are the former clients. You need to obtain that information now if you want to move ahead and build the house you want while eliminating potential problems.
If you interview your prospective builder correctly, you will gain a good picture of what he builds, how he builds it, how he communicates, and how committed he is to producing a solid, lasting home that fits you. One that reflects your ideas and taste.
Your builder should welcome your questions. He wants you to consider all things so that you know what to expect, and so that you can base your decision on sound facts. It’s all part of the important process of coming to understand each other.
Ask to see a few of his projects.
You will probably even meet the home owners at this time, which will give you a good opportunity to observe the rapport between them and the builder.
Ask for references.
Be sure to call them, and get all the information possible from them. (See “How to get Builders’ References to Reveal All”)
Ask if he has had problems with previous clients.
Why? How often? (If he has had many problems, beware!)
Ask if he stays with the same sub contractors
Can he sustain a subcontractor over a period of years. If not, why not?
Ask about how he works with his subs.
Are they striving for the same goal? Do they communicate well?
Ask if you can contact a few of his subcontractors.
Subs can tell you so much about the quality that the builder expects. After all, they are the ones who have to please the builder. They are the ones who get called back if it isn’t up to his standards. They can also tell you a lot about his nature, and how he deals with problems.
Ask how closely he works with the subs.
If stays close to the subs, they have teamwork which means less problems.
Ask how often he is on the job.
Does he stay in the office when he communicates with the subs, or does he meet them on the job? How often? Does he actually work on the job himself?
Ask how he handles changes
Changes come up during the building process. This is important if you are building a custom home. Changes are a part of the building process.
Ask about the agreements(s) that he uses.
The agreement means a lot to you as a client. It will determine how you pay for his services and if you see the cost breakdowns or not.
Ask how long he has been building homes.
Ask about construction history. When did he begin building? Does he enjoy it? Why? You will glean a bit more information here.
Ask about the quality of his homes.
Of course all builders say their homes are good quality homes. But we know that ‘good quality’ means different things to different people. We also know that some will claim that they build good quality, even though they do not expect to do so. This is a good question to ask anyway, just to see what he says, and gives you an opportunity to observe how comfortable he appears to be when he answers you.