Interview your Local Contractor or Remodeling Company
It’s never too early to start looking for a local Home Builders and Remodelers. Get to know them and rely on your Residential Contractor’s expertise as you navigate the home building process. Home Contractors and Designers can be a great resource even the early stages. They know the housing industry and can help direct you towards the perfect home-site or tear-down, neighborhood, or even another home builder, if it’s not quite the perfect fit…and that’s ok. You can learn a lot in the process.
So, start early, and do a few brief casual meetings, interviewing your top builder choices, and look at their work. Online resources are great to see what they have done. Not all builders show all design work and design styles, do not overlook them, they may still be a great fit. Ask to see other specific work they have done that may not be published.
Questions to ask your Home Builder
How many years have you been in business?
Everyone asks this question, and while its important to show they can keep a business going, it does not tell the whole story. Some builders change their business names and the players change too, so, don’t just ask how long they have been in business, more importantly, look at how much design and construction experience their team has collectively. Key players can move in or out of a business and partnerships and ownership often changes. When you are hiring a builder, you are hiring the people to design, manage , and supervise the construction process, so choose the players on the roster carefully, know the resume of the current team who will be working on your home.
How are you educated?
Home Building is a complex business. People think its simple, it’s not. A great builder educates themselves in multiple disciplines. So ask about all their housing and business related experience and education, including design, business, management, accounting, construction, and real estate experience and education. After all, they are managing your business, your design process, your construction team, your accounting team, and your real estate asset and housing investment.
What is your role and how do you participate in the building process? Who is responsible for overseeing the construction of my home? How hands on are you? Who will be my point of contact?
Some home builders are hands on while others may meet with you in the beginning and not see you again. Know the roles. If you can, have a brief meeting with the on-site Project Manager who will be working on your home. They typically are coordinating construction timelines and organizing sub-contractors. Sometimes they may also be a licensed contractor, that’s a plus!
How many homes do you build a year?
I don’t consider this super important, but you want a home builder and company to demonstrate they have the time and resources to devote to your project and can execute on time, on budget and to your specifications and exactly quality and style.
How many homes have you built?
Again, good question, but doesn’t tell enough information. It can demonstrate experience, but not quality and time spent on your project. I’ve worked for a builder who built almost 300 homes a year, and builders who do around 5 -10 a year. I’ve worked for builders that have been in business a long time and start-ups and they all have different pricing, services and levels of quality. It’s the process and resources devoted to your project that are key.
Are you licensed and insured?
This answer needs to be, yes licensed, in your state. To work as a Residential Contractor in Minnesota, the State of Minnesota requires all Residential Contractors to have a designated Qualified Residential Building Contractor, and be licensed and insured before they will even issue a license number. The Builder also must have an organized way to ensure all sub-contractors are in compliance and are licensed as a Residential Contractor themselves or a business or subcontractor registered with the Department of Labor and Industry.
How are you different than other builders?
What are the most important benefits you provide? Are your resources different? Do you price differently? Do you have different features you offer in the homes you build?
How do you structure your Contracts? Fixed Price? Cost-Plus?
How and when will I be given a Contract price for my home? How are the costs for changes to Contract recorded and when are those changes paid?
Questions regarding to ask home builders about their architectural and design services
Does the company offer in house design services from educated, accredited professionals?
Who is your architectural team? How are they educated?
Do they outsource Architectural and Design Services?
I’m not suggesting one is better than the other, just that in some cases this can make a difference in communication flow and how quickly things turn around and that may save additional time and money. You just need to ask the right questions.
What type of home floor plans and other house rendering design services do you offer? CAD, other 2D plans, 3D plans or 3D Photo Realistic Rendering?
Do you build only from plans you supply? Or can I supply my own set of plans?
Can you meet the Designer? I encourage you to meet the person who will be designing and working on your selections and communicating those specifications? How are they educated? What experience do they have?
How much time do I get with your Interior Designer? How is that structured into the Agreement?
With some custom builders, you may spend more than 70% of your time during the building process with your designer, so make it a fit. They are critical to the success of your project. How much design time to you get with that professional designer? Are they educated in Architecture and Interior Design? How long have they been involved in designing Residential Construction? Does the Builder use the same design team or designer you will be working with to do their homes featured online and for their model homes you may have seen? Do they do all the specifications and home staging for those? I am sometimes surprised that builders have an in-house design team for their clients yet they out-source the specifications for their model homes. You want to see the work of the person you will be working with.
Do they have an In-House Design Studio?
Do they allow for products and materials outside of their Design Center?
How and when can I make changes and upgrades in the design process or during construction?
Other commonly asked questions when choosing your Home Builder
What energy-saving features to you incorporate into your home building plans?
Do you have standard features or is each home designed to different specifications?
What options and upgrades can I select?
How custom are you?
Can we modify house plans structure and interiors? Can we choose products from any supplier?
How long may it take me to build a new home?
Architectural Design Time? Specifications? Building Structure?
What is the communication process while my home is under construction?
When do you do walk-throughs? What is your inspection process? How do you address issues that need attention or correction? Who communicates that process?
How often will I have access to my home during construction?
How do I gain access?
What type of new home warranty do you offer?
How do I go about getting service after my build? Who do I contact? What is the process?
Do you have any references I can contact?
The interview process can be casual but it’s important. Is your potential home builder engaged? Not just selling, but genuinely interested in you and your family and the specific things that you desire in your home and site? It’s their job to convey your vision, so that discovery process is critical. Sometimes you can tell when someone is sincere and in those first meetings and that you feel comfortable communicating. So while building a home is technical and creative, it also requires a Customer Home Builder to be a good manager and be organized and proactive in their communication. So, the “fit” is also a little subjective. Bottom line, feel comfortable with your team before signing an Agreement. Things come up during construction that are not always expected even in the best of situations. Having honest, open communication is key to your home building project’s success.
Enjoy the journey! Home Building is incredibly rewarding with the right team. I hope this was helpful. We have even more home building resources at Create Home, and for more design inspiration check out Create Design Build. If you’re looking for a Residential Construction Contractor, in Minneapolis and western suburbs, for your new custom home or remodeling project, check us out at Create Design Build and see how are building and design process is unique. We’d love to help!