When planning a new home, people often are wrapped up in the exciting decisions, such as which floorplan suits their needs or what cabinet finishes they prefer. However, there’s one key decision to make before all the others: Which builder will you work with?
While you could take a chance and sign with the first builder you find, we recommend a more methodical approach. There are tens of thousands of options in the U.S., so your first step will be to narrow the selection pool.
Determine Your Needs
First, decide your price range and what size and style of home you’d like. Look at a builder’s portfolio and determine if they have expertise in the homestyle in which you’re most interested, and consider if their prices are within your budget.
Are you relocating to a new city or state? Double check that the builders you’re interested in are actively building in those areas. If you’re moving to a McMansion in Arizona, it won’t be helpful to fall in love with a builder that only builds tiny houses in Alaska.
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to manageable amount, it’s time to start reaching out to specific builders to get more information on their options and processes.
Questions to Ask Your New Home Builder
- How many years have you been in business, and how many homes have you built? Are licensed (where required) and insured?
- What sort of new home warranty do you offer?
- Do you only build from existing floorplans, or can I provide my own set of plans?
- What features are standard in the homes you build? What are the upgrade options?
- When and how can I make changes or upgrades throughout the building process? Do all decisions need to be finalized before construction begins?
- What are the energy-saving features of the homes you build?
- Who will be overseeing the construction of my home? Who can I reach out to with questions as they arise, and how can I contact them?
- What is your process for inspections throughout construction, final walk-through, and to address any matters that need to be corrected or finalized?
- How long will it take to build my home?
- How and when will the final cost of my home be determined?
- Can I view a current project you’re working on? (Homes in the works are a great way to check for workmanship and material quality.)
- Do you build model homes that I can tour? If not, can you help me make an appointment to tour a home you built for another customer?
- Can you provide me with references or testimonials from previous home buyers?
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start conversations with builders. If there are key features you’re looking for, or specific concerns you have, be sure to ask those questions, too!
Trust Your Gut
Don’t forget to assess how you feel interacting with the builder. Are they open to your questions and providing you with thorough answers? Are they asking questions to get to know your lifestyle and expectations, and are they really listening to your answers?
You’ll be working closely with the builder of your new home for at least six months, and you want to make sure you know with who you’re agreeing to work. The excitement of beginning construction on your new home may make you want to rush through this process, but take your time; it’s definitely worth it.