Top 3 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Custom Home Builders
Building a new home is a big step to take, especially building a custom designed home. It’s probably one of the biggest things a person can do in their life and not something you would want to get wrong or walk away wishing they had done it differently.
With this in mind, it’s critical to find the absolute best builder for you and your project. With custom built homes you can’t simply choose any old builder. You want someone who gets your vision, understands your goals and can provide you with a great result.
When interviewing custom home builders, you’ll no doubt have a lot of questions. Make sure your question list includes these three key questions to help you determine if the builder is the right fit for you.
1. What is your background, skills and experience?
One of the first questions you should be asking the builders you interview is about their background, skills and experience. Not only is it important to know these things, but it gives the builder a chance to share details about themselves, their work history, the projects they’ve been involved in and why have chosen to be a custom home builder.
A good builder will be open, honest and will be able to share with you projects and testimonials that showcase the work they do. This open question also starts the process of getting to know the builder’s style of communication. You will be able to get a feel for who they are as a person, how they communicate and if you feel they could potentially be the right fit to build your custom home.
During the process of asking about their background and experience, you will be able to view some of their past projects which will give you a good indication about their craftsmanship and capabilities. You ideally want to choose a builder that works within the style you are after. For example, if you want a modern coastal home, but the examples the builder provides is more heritage, then this might mean they may not be a good fit.
It’s also through this question, you can get a feel for the experience of the builder. For custom built homes, you want to select a builder who has worked on custom homes before. While the fundamentals of building are the same, there is a world of difference between a volume builder who builds to set plans on carefully selected blocks, and a custom builder who is generally more adaptable and can work with any block and any home design. Custom home designs may require on the spot thinking and quick resolutions to any onsite problems that may arise. A good custom home builder will have experience in dealing with this.
2. How Involved Are You with Your Projects?
This is a great question to ask your custom home builders during the interview stage. It will give you a good indication about whether the builder who you interview will be hands-on with your project, or will be passing the workload on to a team of workmen to oversee and manage. While it’s neither a good nor bad thing as to whether the main builder is onsite or not during your build, it is good to know exactly who will be managing your project, and ideally, you will want to get to know them as well before deciding on a builder.
It’s not uncommon for custom home builders to take on fewer projects per year giving the main builder (who is often the owner of the company) time to oversee and manage each project they undertake. But this is not to say there aren’t builders out there who will go through the process of signing you up under contract and then passing you off to a work crew you’ve never met before and don’t know from a bar of soap. It’s better to find this out during the interview process than it is after you’ve signed on the bottom line.
So, asking this question will also give you an indication as to how many projects the builder takes on at any one time and how many crews they run. As mentioned above, building a custom home is a significant life event, you want a builder who is going to give it as much attention and dedication as you are… If not more. You don’t want your project to be delayed a week or waiting an unnecessary amount of time for trades to carry out their work because the builder has taken on too many projects at once.
3. What’s Included in Your Services?
When interviewing custom home builders, it’s always good to ask them what is included in their service. Some builders will be a full-service builder who can help you source your land, design your home, submit council approvals and build your home from the ground up, while other builders will take care of the building component only. It will be up to you to organise the design, council submissions and so on. Again, either option is acceptable, but you do need to be aware of what is included and not included in the service so you can source other building professionals to help you in these areas. You don’t want to be caught out thinking a service is included when it isn’t and your project is potentially delayed.
Often the full scope of service inclusions and exclusions will be clearly laid out in a building contract. But getting an idea about this while you’re in the process of selecting a builder is extremely helpful.
Having a builder who can take care of all your building needs from concept stage right through to when your home is ready to move into, does definitely streamline the process and gives you peace of mind that everything is covered. But if you have already engaged an architect who is designing your home, then it is also good to know if your builder is willing to work with the architect to complete your home as a team.
Narrow Down Your Choice of Custom Home Builders
There will be plenty of other questions to ask as you go through the process of interviewing custom home builders, but if you start with these three important questions, you’ll get a good base on which to determine which builders you can eliminate straight away and which builders are the real deal and are just as invested in building you a beautiful custom home as you are.