Questions to Ask When Selecting Your Custom Home Builder

You undoubtedly have lots of questions if you are considering building a new custom home and there are two questions we hear more than any other: “How much is it going to cost?” and “How long will it take?” Both are very practical questions. Price is a major determining factor in deciding which custom home builder you will hire and the build timeline is not far behind in relative importance.

There are also plenty of other questions you need to ask before building your new custom home. These questions can be the difference between owning your dream home and one that’s second-rate. As  custom home builders ourselves, we get asked a variety of questions – from pricing, room size, architecture, sinks, fixtures and doorknobs. You should never not ask a question you might have, but there are several essential questions to ensure you’ve got a good, quality builder before hiring.

1. How Much Am I Able to Customize My Home?
Customization lies on a wide ranging spectrum. At one end of the top end of the customization spectrum, the plans are drawn from scratch to meet the clients vision. The other end of customization may entail the client picking color finishes, appliances and fixtures. Most potential home builders want something in the middle. The biggest difference in custom home builders is whether they let you make changes to the home’s architecture, such as adding an extra bedroom, expanding a room, adding a deck, changing the roofline, etc. Some home builders claim to be “custom” but only allow you to make cosmetic changes such as countertops, cabinets and other small design details. These “custom” home builders do not allow you to adapt their blueprints in any shape, form or fashion.

True custom home builders will allow you to expand on their design, even after construction has begun. You are able to add more square footage to the home, add another bedroom, enlarge the patio area, or any other change you might desire. We will not tell you which custom home builder is what you want, but getting a clear answer to a question about customization will clarify if a builder can build you the home of your dreams.

2. How Do I Select the Decorative Surfaces, Fixtures and Colors?
Most of the finishes in the home are already chosen for you when you purchase a production home. If you build a custom home, you are able to make the decision about countertops, cabinets, flooring, tiles and more. However, you need to determine how the interior design process works with each custom home builder, as they are all a little different. There are usually three main options:

  • You find all suppliers and finishes on your own.
  • You hire an independent interior designer/decorator to help you find and coordinate all the finishes. The builder usually can refer you to ones they have worked with before.
  • The home builder has an on-staff interior designer/decorator or an in-house showroom.

The last option is usually the easiest as there is not any outside help needed. The second option is also good, however we do not recommend finding all the suppliers and finishes on your own as the first option suggests. Regardless of the format that works best for you, we do recommend you determine what sorts of finishes you like, but leave the purchasing and coordination to the professionals

3. What Features Are Included in thePrice?
The features of the custom home are usually presented in two ways: included in the base price of the custom home or packages you can add on to your custom home. Most custom home builders incorporate both ways. Such as, the base price will include certain high-end features, but you can also add even more options with a luxury package.

When comparing custom home builder prices, be sure to take into account what is included in the base price of the custom home. One custom home builder may have a super low base cost, but the features you want for your custom home may not be available without an upgrade. Be sure to check that the following finishes are included in the price: HVAC, plumbing for appliances, electrical, cabinets, countertops, tile or hardwood floors.

4. Will You Help Me Acquire Land or Do I Need to Find a Lot Myself?
The parameters and limitations of your home, both aesthetically and structurally, can be determined by the land you buy. Some neighborhoods have a homeowner’s association that have certain design guidelines you must follow. Also, not all land can support the type of custom home you desire.

If a custom home builder helps you in purchasing land, they will take into account the type of home you want and will find a lot to suit those desires. You will have to find your own property if your builder does not offer that service or you want to do it yourself. With this approach you will need to work with a land surveyor, architect or home builder to determine if that piece of land is capable of what you would like to build. Craftmaster Homes LC offers lot assessments as well as most any of the necessary resources in purchasing land for our custom home clients.

5. What Can You Do to Add Value to a Property I Like?
Ask your builder if they can inspect the land or if it is necessary to hire an independent expert to assess the property’s capabilities if you have already found a property to purchase. Other questions the builder and you can discuss are:

  • What is the lot’s size?
  • Does the neighborhood have a certain style of homes? If yes, do I have to build matching that style?
  • Are there zoning issues?
  • What’s the soil quality of the property?
  • Is the property at an incline or decline?
  • Are the utilities installed? If yes, does anything need replacing?
  • Will the builder need to demolish an existing home

6. Ask the Builder what makes them unique?
Many builders will say that “They have the best price” or “We deliver the best quality”.  As you probably know that quality is a subjective statement and “lowest price” is generally not a sound decision, especially for something as important as your custom home.

At Craftmaster Homes LC we strive to listen first to understand your vision and what is most important to you in your new home.  We really care about you and navigating the build process in a transparent manner is key.

7. Does the Home Building Process Change If I Do Not Already Have a Lot?
Somewhat, yes. In order to know what can be built, the custom home builder must know what property you have. This can vary from style of home to not having utilities to encountering deed or city restrictions, all of which can cause a delay in construction. It is highly beneficial to discuss which setbacks, if any, you might run into later down the road of the home building process.

8. What Is the First Step In Your Process?
There are four major things your builder must know before they can begin designing your home. Your lot size, any neighborhood restrictions, your budget and your lifestyle.  With this information, your custom home builder is able to design you a custom home that fits within these four parameters. This is when the customization of your home enters the picture. In most cases the first draft is usually not “the one”. At this point, it is important to know how much you are able to customize the plan. You may have to find another builder who can build within your budget to meet your needs.

9. Can You Show Me Some Photos of Previous Custom Home Builds That Fit My Preferred Style?
It is always beneficial to ask to view photos of finished custom homes that your builder has completed previously. This is probably the only way you’ll get to see a finished home unless the builder has a model home to view. You may also ask to tour a construction site of one of the builder’s current homes. This allows you to see what a builder’s custom home looks like under construction.

10. If I Encounter an Issue With My Home, How Do I Handle It?
Each custom home builder sets up their home builder’s warranty policy a little different. It is important to know how your custom home builder’s policy works and how long the warranties last. Many times warranties for building materials and workmanship have a different time span than the plumbing and electrical work. At Craftmaster Homes, LC we offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all of our new custom homes.

11. What is the price of your home?
Everyone likes a good deal, but when making an investment as important as your home price alone is generally not a wise decision. Most builders pay relatively similar amounts for materials and labor, so if one builder has a lower price there may be components not included or lower grade materials may have been substituted.

12. Am I comfortable with My Builder?
Building a home is a very exciting time for you and your family, however it is a long process. You want to make sure that you and your custom home builder are a good fit for one another. Craftmaster Homes LC spends time getting to know you.  We understand that you may only build one or two homes in a lifetime so we want to ensure that we not only build a great home but also deliver a great experience.

13. What Are You Looking For In A Builder-Client Relationship?
You benefit from a builder who has open communication channels that you can contact frequently and receive responses in a timely manner. Ask your builder to explain specifically who they will have communicate with you before, during and after construction. Many modern builders have a platform that keeps you updated with password protected access to your information. A true difference in builders is how often the builder communicates. Another great question to add is “How often do you update your clients?”

We know you are thinking – this is a lot of questions! You are correct, but the more you know about your custom home builder before signing a contract the better. As builders we want you to ask us these questions and any other questions you might have. We want to get to know you in the best way possible. Our goal is to build the custom home of your dreams exactly the way you envisioned without surprises. Contact Craftmaster Homes, LC today for your consultation on custom home building today!