On the Home Front
Blog » How to Talk to Your Builder
by Brandon Simpson and Dan Lawson
You’ve decided to build instead of purchase a new or pre-owned home. Good for you. There’s a lot to be gained from going this route. You can customize your home to suit your style and start fresh with modern features, new finishes and energy-efficient materials. But there can be a lot to lose too, including your money, if you don’t ask your builder the right questions from the start. Over the years, we’ve fielded all kinds of questions, so we know what you should ask – and what constitutes a good answer. In our humble opinion, here are the seven most important questions you should ask your builder before you sign a contract.
- Will you provide references? It’s easy enough to scroll through the builder’s website and check for online reviews, but take the time to dig a little deeper. Talk to the builder and ask for references (and addresses) of clients who have been in their homes for at least three years. Drive by the houses, and call the clients to ask about their home-building experience. If they’re happy, it’s a well-built home.
- What does your home warranty cover? Standard Virginia warranties cover one year of surety coverage against defects in workmanship and materials. But this is your home we’re talking about, with lots of nooks and crannies. At AB Homes, our warranty covers the one-year standard-issue warranty, plus two years of systems surety coverage (for defects in wiring, piping, and ductwork in electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, ventilating and mechanical systems) and 10 years of structural defects for load-bearing components. We hope you will never need to use your warranty, but it’s good to know you’re fully covered if you do.
- How much out-of-pocket and upfront costs are involved? Some builders will ask for $2,500 – $5,000 to cover upfront expenses such as a site plan, a Percolation Test needed for installing a septic drain field and good faith money before construction begins. We don’t do that. When we give our customers a price on building a new home – that’s the price. It only changes if they decide to add to the square footage or upgrade features of the home.
- Will I need a construction loan, or will the builder cover these expenses? If your builder doesn’t cover construction expenses, you will need to take out a construction loan to cover the cost of labor and materials. If they do cover construction expenses, ask about any added costs that may run up the bill, such as a well, septic system or grading of the yard or driveway. Some builders, like us, will take care of all of the construction costs, including all the items mentioned here, in the overall price.
- What home features are customizable? Naturally you want your new home to reflect your style when it comes to flooring, counter tops, cabinets and carpeting. Perhaps you want to add on a deck or extend the square footage of your home. Be sure to ask which items they will allow you to customize and what those costs will be. Customization is a hallmark of what we do at AB Homes, and we love working with our customers to make sure they are getting the features they want with no hidden costs.
- Will my new home be move-in, live-in ready? Many new home buyers are surprised to discover the features they expected to have in place on move-in day aren’t there, such as shower curtain rods, towel bars and a refrigerator. Make sure you know what you’ll need to supply. Our customers will find all of these items, in addition to quality blinds on every window.
- What’s the purpose of cookie cutters? In case you think this is a trick question, it’s not! Well, not exactly. Just a point we want to make in closing. When you’re looking to buy a new home, bear in mind that most subdivision plans offer the same house over and over again. And most builders will give you a choice of only four or five floor plans. We call these “cookie cutter” homes. Our advice? Find a builder that has more to offer in terms of home styles, floor plans and customization. Cookie cutters are great for making cookies, but not for building the home you plan to enjoy for many years to come.
All the best,
Brandon and Dan
AB Homes Specialists
are Standing by
We’d love to answer your questions! Call us to schedule an appointment to see our model home.