Not all builders are created equal. That’s what you’ll learn as you begin to search for a custom home builder for your dream home.
Sadly, because of the ease of posting on the internet or building a website, anyone can represent themselves as a top builder in the Vancouver area, or anywhere else you’re searching. It’s not difficult to paste pictures on a page and say they are “recent projects” or to craft complimentary references from supposed “satisfied clients” and post them on that same site.
That means extra care needs to be taken as you search for a custom builder to call your own. Personal interviews are essential and should involve more than one builder so that you can make comparisons.
Ask The Right Questions
Here’s a list of things you’ll want to ask before you say “yes” to the company with which you’re going to be closely involved for the next 6 months to a year (or more).
- Do you have a designer with whom you work or are you willing to work with MY chosen designer throughout the process to ensure that the home is what I’m expecting and that the costs stay within my budget?
- This is the style of home we want. Are you comfortable with this style and have you previously built anything in this style?
- This is the quality we expect. Can you insure us that you’ll use quality construction products that will adhere to our expectations?
- After you review the blueprints, what methods will you use to determine the cost of my house?
- Will you be the project manager and, if not, may I meet the project manager before I sign a contract? Will the project manager be there on a daily basis or, if not, how often?
- How do you determine that your subcontractors are of good quality? Can you provide references for them?
- If questions or concerns arise during construction, how will they be addressed?
- What if emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances result in additional charges? How do you handle these changes with the owner? The designer?
- After reviewing my blueprints, how long do you think this project will take? (Beware of a really quick answer!)
- Tell me about your warranty and what it includes.
- What payment methods do you accept?
- Can you provide a list of references with contact information as well as a list of properties we can view before we sign?
It’s obvious as to why most of these questions are important. They all help you assess the builder’s experience, work ethic, flexibility, and more. So, if you’re satisfied with the answers, you might also want to ask for samples of some of the documents that are used to seal the deal, including:
- Each company’s standard contract
- A sample warranty for each custom home builder you are considering
- A sample budget which includes explanations of how payments are invoiced and paid
- A sample construction schedule, which will likely include things like a timeline, milestones, and cashflow
For additional information in choosing experienced home builders, see:
Questions for References
If you’re pleased with the answers you’ve received to the questions above and have reviewed the sample documents that which the custom home builder has provided you, it’s time to move on to interviewing the references provided. DO NOT skip this step! It may be a little time-consuming, but it is necessary in determining whether or not this builder is right for you.
Questions you should ask of the references include:
- Was the estimate you received at the beginning of the process accurate? If not, how different was it?
- Was the project finished in the time frame given? If not, why?
- What was the owner’s role in the project?
- Are there certain key individuals with the company (supervisors, etc.) that you would request or any that you would avoid? Why?
- Are there any subcontractors that were used that you would recommend or avoid? Why?
- How did the builder react to stressful situations/emergencies? Requests for changes?
- Were the finances clear? Could you see where money was being spent, etc.?
- Overall, was the project well-organized?
Once you’ve chatted with references about the custom home builder(s) you’re considering, sit down and compare notes about all of them to arrive at a final decision. And then get ready to embark on some of the most exciting months of your life as your dream home begins to take shape!