Top 12 Questions to Ask Your Builder

Communication is critical in any successful business transaction. Having your new Florida home built to your satisfaction is no different. Finding the right builder can feel daunting, but all it requires is a willingness to research. Knowing what to ask prospective builders and how interpret their responses, will help you select the right builder for your project.

Use the 12 questions below as a road map for those conversations. You’ll be smarter and wiser for the info they produce.

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How busy are you? Where does my new home fit in your schedule?

Find out. If you have a deadline to move, your builder needs to know. A new job may dictate your schedule, thus your choice of builders. A professional builder knows how to manage simultaneous projects, but ask for specifics. Don’t be afraid to communicate with about updates.

How often do you update your clients?

Ask if your need-to-know preferences conflict or align with a builder’s processes. Work out an update schedule.  Decide however many days or weeks, for example. This will keep the communication channels clear.

How do you process change orders?

Change orders are a fact of construction life. The bathroom tile you selected is suddenly discontinued. You saw something in a decorating magazine that you simply must have. You need to know how builders deal with change orders and communicate the changed cost.

How prompt are you in returning clients’ calls, texts or emails?

Discuss it. If you know a builder responds to clients at the end of each work day, you won’t wonder if he or she received your text. Good communication is key.

Tell me about your warranty. What does it cover and not cover?

Don’t wait until a crisis to find out. Know what a builder will and won’t cover, then get it in writing. Your warranty should follow you throughout the building process.

Do you have references I can contact?

If not, proceed to the next builder on your list. You want references. When you get them, calls those folks. Ask how the builder handled crises, communications and deadlines.

Can I choose my subcontractors?

Tell your builder if you want to use a specific subcontractor. Research the subcontractors he or she uses. Remember that experienced builders trusts people they’ve worked with repeatedly. There may be no reason for you to insist on, say, a certain decorative painter.

How long do you estimate it will take to build my home?

Find out. You need to know if a builder is swamped with work. He or she needs to know you sold your old home in 10 days and must move as soon as possible. Be aware that unforeseen material shortages and weather intrusions can impact even the most considered estimate.

Can you build my home within my budget parameters?

This is the bidding process. A prospective builder assesses your budget against his or her workloads and costs. Assess all bids and be wary of the lowest and highest. Your best bid likely falls somewhere in the middle.

Do you finance construction? Do I need a construction loan?

Builders who finance construction are repaid by the financial institution that provides your home loan, once construction is complete. If you choose a builder who doesn’t finance construction, you may need to get the construction loan.

What’s your policy on touch ups/repairs after I move in?

Another get-it-in-writing detail. It’s common practice for a builder to repaint baseboards smudged by your moving crew, or to replace a faulty new light fixture. Move-in/construction tweaks should be fixed by your builder. But, within a limited period of time.

Are you licensed and insured in the state of Florida?

If not, move to the next prospective builder on your list. Make sure the subcontractors used by the builder you choose also are licensed and insured in the state where you’re building.
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