1. Who is the builder and what is their reputation? How long have they been building?
Understanding the builder’s reputation is one of the most important factors before committing to them
2. What type of homes do they typically build?
For example, if the builder typically builds economy homes and all of a sudden jumps into selling luxury homes, this is something you may want to think twice about. There is so much that goes into building a luxury home. Building an economy home vs a luxury property are night and day!
3. Do they have other projects going at the moment? If not can you give me some completed project addresses to go look at?
Checking out other existing projects gives you the opportunity to explore the builder’s craftsmanship. What type of products do they use? What is the level of detail? How neat do they keep their worksites? Does pride show in their work? These are good questions to get answered when building a new home.
4. Who will oversee the construction or my home and who can answer my questions once the building starts?
Just because the owner of the company is experienced and capable does not mean the employees working on your home will be equally capable.
5. How often and when will I be allowed to tour the home once construction has started?
There are some builders that will be very restrictive when it comes to site visits. You should ask the question up front on how often you will be able to visit your home.
6. Is the lot cost included?
What may not be included is the cost of the land, so be sure to ask if the lot cost is figured into the base.
7. How long will the building take?
Be sure to also ask if the build time includes the time it takes to get the permits, since those will typically take about 30-45 days to obtain.
8. What warranties are provided with the house?
Ask what the warranties include and how long they last. While you can always buy your own home warranty, you should expect that the builder will cover you in some way for at least the first several years.
9. What are the standard finishes?
it’s important to figure out early what sorts of finishes and appliances you can expect to be included in the home’s base price.
10. Are you allowed to purchase your own appliances or materials?
in terms of appliances, you probably will have to make some purchases on your own, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
11. If you can bring in your own materials or appliances, will you get credits?
Some builders offer credits for any upgrades or self-purchased materials or appliances, while with others you’ll just have to eat the cost of the originally included item. In general, builders don’t like to lower the base cost, but if they do offer credits, that’s a win for you.
12. Is landscaping included?
Ask whether landscaping is included, and if so, what that entails and if there is any sort of warranty on the materials so that if your newly sodded grass dies right away or some other mishap occurs you’re not responsible for fixing it.
13. Does the contract include a cost escalation clause?
A cost escalation clause allows the builder to charge you for any unanticipated costs that arise as a result of necessary labor or materials. If you’d rather not deal with the stress of unanticipated costs, find a builder that doesn’t include a cost escalation clause in the contract.
14. Are there any homeowner’s rules or regulations?
Even if there is no homeowners association for the development, the builder may still set some guidelines as far as what’s allowed and what’s not on your property.
15. Are there any financial incentives for using the builder’s preferred lender?
Some builders offer discounts on closing costs if you obtain your mortgage through a company that they have a relationship with. You may still be able to find a better deal through other lenders. It’s still good to know however if there are benefits to working with the builder’s preferred mortgage company.
16. Will I be able to have a home inspection when the building is completed?
You should be able to have the home inspected when it is completed. A builder, however, is not going to allow you to make your sale contingent on a home inspection.
17. Are there any protective covenants for the neighborhood?
Keep in mind there can be a distinction between the words “protective” and “restrictive” You want to make sure you’re not buying into a neighborhood where you will not be able to do what you want to your home!
The more questions you can ask in the beginning, the less surprises you’ll potentially face in the future. Do your homework! And as with any home purchase, be sure to have an attorney read over your contract so that you can be sure everything is fair and equitable. Be smart, ask the right questions, and at the end of the day (or fine, year) you’ll end up with a beautiful home built just for you.