Bradley Smith

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Custom Home Builder

Two Architect man working with compasses and blueprints

Building a custom luxury home from the ground up will be one of the largest investments you make, so you want to find the perfect fit for your project. Choosing the right builder is a key step in making your dream home a reality.

When considering a builder for your project, it’s important to ask a series of questions to help you determine whether they’re the right fit for your unique needs and preferences. Selecting a builder can be challenging, especially for first-time homeowners. However, by asking the right questions, you will gain valuable insight into their process, their communication style, and all of the steps involved in your project.

Here, we list down some of the most important questions to ask a home builder to help you choose the right company for your new construction home.

BEFORE YOU START

Before meeting with a custom home builder, make sure you list down questions, your goals, and the expectations you have for the project.

If you already have house plans, bring them to the meeting so you can discuss layouts, finishes, extras, and other details. If you don’t have house plans yet, you can still talk to the builder about any ideas you have. Any notes and ideas you share will be greatly appreciated and will help make your meeting more productive.

Some items the builder might ask you about are:

Take a look at existing floor plans from the builder to see if there’s anything similar to what you have in mind for your custom home, which can serve as a good starting point.

QUESTIONS TO ASK A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER

How many years have you been in the business?

This should be one of the first and most important questions to ask a home builder because it provides insight into their qualifications and if they possess the experience and expertise necessary to provide top-level service. A home builder who has been in the business for only a couple of years won’t be able to deliver the same quality of service as a company that has built custom homes for more than 20 years.

Experience is a key factor when it comes to building custom homes as it can affect everything, from upfront costs to the overall quality of your finished home.

How do you approach the home building process?

You want a custom home builder who excels at every step of the home building process. A builder with developed and refined construction management and selection systems translates to high-quality service for clients.

You can count on Layne Kelly Homes’ fully integrated process combining homesite selection, architecture, interior design, and construction management for a streamlined approach to custom home building, allowing you to transform your vision into your dream home.

Do you have experience building the type of home you’re looking for?

Every style of home brings unique challenges, so it’s important to make sure your home builder has experience building a home in the style you want.

It’s better to work with a home builder that utilizes a vast archive of knowledge and techniques gathered from constructing similar homes in the past, rather than one that might try something new on your project.

How will you get in touch with me during the process?

Learning about their communication style is essential when you’re looking to hire a home builder. How often will they provide project updates? Do they use software to document and manage the construction process? Will there be a point person assigned onsite to address any concerns you might have?

You want to work with a builder who will be constantly in touch with you so you can stay informed throughout each step of the process.

What will the project’s schedule and timeline look like?

The timeline is a crucial factor in any new construction home. It usually takes about six to nine months to complete a custom build, which is a wide range especially if you’re trying to determine a precise completion date.

An experienced luxury home builder already knows how to work around the area’s weather, is familiar with obtaining the necessary permits, and has a system in place that will mitigate any disruptions and design and construction errors. You’ll want to get an estimated move-in date so you can manage the sale of your current residence and handle the carrying costs of your new home. Discuss the schedule for your home’s construction and find out how often the builder meets their target completion dates.

Ask about major issues that might cause delays, and what solutions they provide so you’ll be able to reach your projected move-in date on time. However, it’s important that you try to stay as flexible as possible. There are many factors that can affect the timeline, so it’s not realistic to get assurance that your builder will finish the project on a specific date.

What you can expect is to get an estimated date that’s based on the builder’s experience and support their timeline with a documented schedule that serves as a road map for your project’s completion.

Can you tell me more about your estimating process?

Make sure your custom home builder provides detailed information on their estimating process.

The initial estimate will be based on hard costs and current market prices. The detailed estimate (which will be provided after all plans and specs are finalized) will be based primarily on bids from the builder’s network of subcontractors and vendors. See to it that multiple bids are submitted by top-level subcontractors and that all bids are thoroughly analyzed to make sure they’re comprehensive. You want to be confident that your builder will aim for a budget without any gaps.

What is not included in the project?

Are you planning to add an upgraded finish package? Would you like your new home to have outdoor living spaces? Every home builder includes a set of standard features. It’s essential to find out exactly what standard features they offer, and what is considered extra.

Some builders’ services only extend to the construction of the home and do not include things like landscaping. Other costs like permits, appraisals, and surveyor’s certificates may or may not be included, so be sure to take note of all items detailed in the agreement so you won’t be caught off-guard by unexpected costs.

Ask the builder for a specification sheet that outlines all items that come standard for your home, together with a list of upgrades and their costs which you can select from if you wish to add them.

What kind of lot do you recommend?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a lot for your custom home. For example, the direction your house is facing dictates how the sunlight reaches your home, which affects how much natural light it gets, energy efficiency, and activities like gardening. The lot’s incline also affects the house plans available, as some home builders can only implement certain structures and floor plans on specific lots.

Location is everything! Find out if your builder has access to a wide selection of lots within the development. This is important especially if you have certain requirements with regard to location, such as privacy, low noise levels, or proximity to amenities. Ask the builder if there are any plans for major developments surrounding your home as well.

All of these factors will affect your future property value.

Will there be a lot premium or is the cost of the lot already included?

The lot cost will likely be included for spec homes located within a subdivision. This may not be the case if you’re planning to build a full custom home, so remember to ask the builder if it’s possible to include the lot cost in the final price.

Lot prices vary in many subdivisions. Some lots are available at a premium price, so find out whether the lot you’re considering has a lot premium fee.

What level of customization do you offer?

Some home builders welcome collaboration during the design process, while others might impose more limitations. You want to work with a home builder who’ll work closely with you and take the time to understand your unique preferences, requirements, and lifestyle.

When you work with Layne Kelly Homes’ elite team of professionals, your project will be analyzed and planned according to your vision while keeping budgetary goals in mind. From homesite selection, structural options, concept and design planning, to installation of fixtures and finishes, you can count on our team to assist you so you can make well-informed decisions while guiding you through any challenges that may occur.

Do you offer energy-saving features?

Most modern homes are equipped with a variety of energy-saving features. The technology and materials used for these energy-saving features continue to improve every year, providing more options that help you reduce bills and your impact on the environment. Additionally, having energy-saving features is an excellent way to increase your home’s value.

If any changes are needed in the design or in case there are unexpected conditions resulting in additional costs, how will that affect the process?

Unforeseen changes or issues are common, especially in luxury custom homes due to their complexity.

As the client, you want assurance that in the event that you want to implement a change in your project, your home builder will have a system in place that accommodates those changes. This system should involve documenting all requested changes, providing information on the costs and available options, asking for your approval, and implementing the changes efficiently.

Who will be involved in my project?

There’s a good chance you won’t be able to know for sure who will be assigned to your project during the initial design phase, months before construction begins. By asking this question, you’ll be able to gauge two important things about your home builder:

Can you provide references from previous clients?

Any reputable custom home builder will have an extensive list of references who are pleased with their finished home and will gladly recommend working with the builder.

Take time to get in touch with every reference they provide. Try to learn about their experience when they worked with the builder and ask about what they like about their completed home. Additionally, ask them about how the builder communicated with them if they were prompt, and how they managed to resolve any issues during and after the build was completed.

Will I be able to tour the home once construction has started?

You should be allowed to drop by and check on the project every so often once construction starts. However, you may not be free to enter the construction site due to safety reasons. Ask the builder when and how often you can visit the home while it’s being built.

Some builders are very strict when it comes to onsite visits, so it’s best to ask this question early on so you can find out if you’ll be able to check on the progress of your new home.

WORK WITH HOUSTON’S #1 LUXURY HOME BUILDER

As the #1 luxury home builder in Houston, you can count on Layne Kelly Homes to provide top-level service. Our years of expertise, focus on client service, innovative techniques, and elite team of professionals ensures an unparalleled experience, from the concept phase all the way to completion.

Get in touch with us at Layne Kelly Homes today by calling 832.441.9884 or by sending an email.



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