Ask for financial references to make sure your builder is financially strong. Ask for bank references. Is this appropriate? You bet it is!
Get the names and phone numbers of four or five past customers, and then call them. Ask tough questions. You’d do this if you were buying a used car. It works with selecting a builder as well. If a builder won’t produce a list for you, move on - fast!
You can find out about this from past customers. We heard about a builder with a custom home with a 42-item punch list of unfinished work a year after closing. Is this builder still in business? You bet he is. But do you want this person to build your home? Of course not. Do your research to protect yourself from this kind of hassle.
Does your builder have an office? A cell phone? Email? A fax machine? You might be wondering why you need to know these things. It’s frustrating and time-consuming to locate your builder if he/she isn’t linked to a business location and has yet to enter the electronic age. This one is easy to test.Try calling a prospective builder. If he/she takes more than a couple of hours to get back to you, you might move on to someone who shows more interest in obtaining your business.
You absolutely must like your builder. His/her ability to communicate is vital. Will he/she listen? Will he/she remember details? Does he/she really care about you and your needs? And, obviously, trust is important.
Good builders check their jobs often. A builder who has construction going “all over the county and state” spends more time on the road than they spend supervising your construction.
Almost all residential construction in Oklahoma City, Piedmont, and surrounding areas is subcontracted. Good subcontractors are in short supply and are therefore in tremendous demand. Good subcontractors choose good builders. From a subcontractor’s point of view, a good builder is well organized, schedules tightly, pays on time and respects the subcontractor’s talent.
How long has the builder been in business? If he/she is new, what did they do in their former life? Was it construction-related? Most construction knowledge is experience-related. Check it out.
A builder goes on vacation and gets sick just like everyone else. If he/she isn’t available, who will supervise your home while it’s under construction? Their spouse? No one? It is reasonable to expect an organized professional backup plan. Ask about it.
This trait is vital in a good builder. During the construction of only one home, there are more than 30 subcontracting crews, some who must be scheduled numerous times. Few builders can maintain this information in their head, yet you would be surprised at how many try. Ask how your prospective builder schedules. Then ask how he/she handles accounting. The “checkbook in the pickup” isn’t a good idea in this day and age. Ask about their attention to detail such as workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Many local builders don’t pay close attention to workers’ compensation insurance and don’t care whether their subcontractors carry it. Would you want to hire a builder who didn’t follow state law? There’s a simple way to find out. Ask to see insurance certificates. It’s your right to know.
How many homes will the builder construct this year? More important, how many can he/she handle? Ask where your potential builder’s other homes under construction are located. This will give you a pretty good idea how your construction will be handled. Even good builders get over loaded. Evaluate this aspect of home building carefully.
Be especially wary of a “maverick” builder who offers to do the work at a very low price. His/her lack of knowledge can get him/her into financial trouble, and his/her trouble could become your trouble. Remember the old saying: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
A “hobby” builder who has a full-time job elsewhere hasn’t made a 100 percent commitment to you, and a 100 percent commitment is imperative to the success of your home. Would you accept a part-time doctor, a part-time teacher or a grocery store that’s only open part-time? Probably not. Then why would you accept a part-time builder?