It’s never too early to start interviewing local Residential Contractors for your home building or remodeling project.  Take the time to really get to know your Home Builder and rely on their expertise as you navigate the home building process.

Home Contractors and Interior Designers can be a great resource even if your just start thinking about building. They know the housing industry can help direct you towards the perfect homesite or tear-down, neighborhood, or even another builder, if it’s not quite the perfect fit.  You can learn a lot in the process.

So, start early, and do a few brief meetings interviewing your top builder choices. Online resources are great to see Home Builders work.

As a Local Home Builder and Interior Designer, here are a number of good questions people have been asking me over the years.  If you’re looking for a Custom Home Builder near you, I hope you find these questions useful in choosing the right Contractor for you.

How many years has each key member of your team been building custom homes?

How many years have you been in business?  Everyone asks this question, while we should be asking how many years has each key member of your team been building custom homes?  Years in business demonstrates an ability to keep a business going, but it only tells part of the story.  Some builders change their business names and the players change, 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.

What is the builders education?

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, your investment.

With all the homes you build how do you dedicate time and resources to my home?

You want someone 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 exacting quality.

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 builders who have 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.

What architectural and design services do you offer?

Does the company offer in house design services from educated, accredited professionals? Do they outsource Architectural and Design Services?

Who is their architectural team? How are they educated?

What type of home floor plans and other house rendering design services do they offer? CAD, other 2D plans, 3D plans or 3D Photo Realistic Rendering?

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 to you 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 do 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 are you different that other builders? What are the most important benefits? Are your resources different? Do you price differently? Do you have different features you offer in the homes you build?

Do you build only from plans you supply? Or can I supply my own set of plans?

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?

Can I meet the Project Manager?

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.

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?

How and when will I be given a Contract price for my home? How do you structure your Contracts? Fixed Price? Cost-Plus? How are the costs for changes to Contract recorded and when are those changes paid?

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?

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 your site? It’s their job to convey your vision, so that discovery process is critical. Sometimes you can learn a lot in those first meetings, and see that you feel comfortable communicating.  That’s so important, because while building a home is technical and creative, it also requires a custom 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 the Lake Minnetonka Area and surrounding suburbs, for your new custom home or remodeling project, check us out at Create Design Build and see how our building and design process is unique. We’d love to help!

It’s never too early to start interviewing local Home Builders. It’s not uncommon for us to meet someone and start discussions over a year before we sign an Agreement. Certainly, it can go faster, just b confident. Get to know your Residential Contractor and rely on their expertise as you navigate the home building process.

Home Contractors and Designers can be a great resource even when you just start thinking about building. They know the housing industry can help direct you towards the perfect homesite or tear-down, neighborhood, or even another 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.

How many years has each key member of your team been building custom homes?

How many years have you been in business?  Everyone asks this question, while we should be asking how many years has each key member of your team been building custom homes?  Years in business demonstrates an ability to keep a business going, but it only tells part of the story.  Some builders change their business names and the players change, 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.

What is the builders education?

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, your investment.

With all the homes you build how do you dedicate time and resources to my home?

You want someone 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 exacting quality.

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 builders who have 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.

What architectural and design services do you offer?

Does the company offer in house design services from a educated accredited professionals? 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 how quickly things turn around and that may save additional time and money. You just need to ask the right questions.

Who is their architectural team? How are they educated?

What type of home floor plans and other house rendering design services do they offer? CAD, other 2D plans, 3D plans or 3D Photo Realistic Rendering?

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 to you 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 are you different that other builders? What are the most important benefits? Are your resources different? Do you price differently? Do you have different features you offer in the homes you build?

Do you build only from plans you supply? Or can I supply my own set of plans?

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?

Can I meet the Project Manager?

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.

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?

How and when will I be given a Contract price for my home? How do you structure your Contracts? Fixed Price? Cost-Plus? How are the costs for changes to Contract recorded and when are those changes paid?

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?

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 your 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 Custom 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 our building and design process is unique. We’d love to help!

2 Comments

  1. Taylor Hansen August 12, 2020 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    It really helped when you said that 70 percent of the time of the building process is with the designer. My wife and I want to look for a custom home to move into where we can have our own pool. I’ll have to talk to a contractor to see what kind of options we have for purchase.

    • Sandra Mahoney August 12, 2020 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      So glad you found that helpful. Let us know if we can help and we’ll be adding more construction related tips as we go.

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