5 Questions to Help You Choose a Home Builder

by Tito Valladares 11/21/2021

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Finding the right home builder can be an overwhelming task. Even if you’ve narrowed down a list of top choices, it's difficult to know if you’re making the right choice. No matter how much research you do on your own, some of the most important information is what you can get by asking the builder directly. By asking the right questions, you can identify potential issues and get a clear understanding of what to expect.

Here are five important questions to ask a potential home builder:

How Long Have They Been in Business?

Hopefully you could answer this question yourself in your research. If not, it’s important to ask. A builder who’s been in business for a long time is more likely to advertise it, so if this information is hard to find, it might point to them being new and possibly lacking the experience you need. That said, you don’t need to assume the worst - sometimes newer builders are newer in name only. Some may specialize in specific materials or styles. Asking is the best way to find out.

What Are Their Credentials and Memberships?

Ask if your potential home builder is a member of any professional organizations or if they have any special certifications. Most reputable builders will be members of their or regional local home builders’ association, chamber of commerce or other private groups proving their consistent quality and professionalism. These kinds of memberships are a good indicator that the builder is well-informed about the industry, trends, codes and regulations.

What’s Their Specialty?

Some builders have a specific area of expertise. Depending on what you’re looking for in your new home, this could be an enormous factor in your decision. If you’re prioritizing energy efficiency and sustainable materials, you will want to know if potential builders have special experience in building that type of home. You can say the same for design and style. However, it’s important to recognize if an area of focus seems too narrow. It might not be a good idea to hire a builder who does only craftsman style houses to build your ultra-minimalist mid-century modern dream home.

What Are the Warranty Details?

Make sure you’re clear about what is and isn’t covered under any warranties the builder offers. Typically, a builder will offer a warranty on the major structural elements of the house, as well as major systems like electrical and plumbing. One thing builder warranties often exclude is major appliances, so check to see if there might be manufacturer warranties instead. It’s also important to note that some warranties don’t begin immediately after the home is built. It’s common for some builder warranties to only go into effect a year or more after closing. Others may only cover the time period in which any defects occur rather than when you might request a fix. Ask your potential builder for all the details about their warranty options.

Can You Contact Some References?

A good builder will have built up a solid reputation and be happy to share it. If you’re able speak to homeowners who have worked with the builder in the past, you can learn a lot of info that might not be on a contract. For instance, speaking with references allows you to get a sense of what the overall customer service experience was like. How was communication? How well did the builder stick to a timeline? How did they respond to any issues that came up during construction? Asking these questions can help you make a good choice on a hiring a builder.

About the Author

Tito Valladares

Real Estate Professional Serving the metropolitan area, Virginia and Maryland.