Five questions to ask before you build

IMG_9118Building a home is a bit of a process, but if you take some time to do some research you will find it to be a very rewarding experience. The definition of disappointment is the unrealized expectations, it is important to work with a builder who gives you a clear understanding of both the process and the product you are contracting them to create for you. If you take the time to confirm these 5 things, it will make for a much better building experience for all parties involved….


Q: Do you include any allowances in your price for the site-specific build costs?

A: Each building site is unique and has specific costs associated with it. It is nearly impossible to estimate the costs associated with a specific building site, because of this most builders include allowances for variable expenses such as fill dirt, clearing costs, site work, permit costs and impact fees. A good builder will first include a reasonable allowance for each of these in their advertised price and then when you have a lot picked out and get closer to contracting with them they will adjust the allowances based on the site.


Q: What are the standard features that come with the home that are included in your advertised price?

A: Knowing the basic features that come with your house are key in you understanding the value of the price they are offering. This will also help you to understand any additional dollars you will need to spend on upgrades to get the house you really want. The price of the house should be backed up by a true value based on its features.


Q: What selections do I get to pick with the purchase of my home and when do I get to do my selections?

A: Most builders call the selections a “color out” appointment. Color out appointments are usually done within 30 days of signing your contract and definitely PRIOR to your contract funding. You are going to want to make sure that there are sufficient basic selections within your pricing category and the builder is not limiting you and forcing you into upgrades.   Keep in mind, lower price point houses will typically have lesser selections due to the tight budget restrictions.  A lot of times during the color out session you may choose to add last minute upgrades you had not opted for prior or make changes to your plans. It is important to get this out of the way sooner than later as in order to have an organized build the builder has a lot of planning to do.  Mapping out exactly what it is that you want in your home is a key first step.  Be prepared to pay additional fees (change order fees) if you choose to change things anytime after the color out appointment.  These fees are due to the lead time in build schedules and the fact that most products are ordered well in advance of needing them.  Once a product is ordered the builder is committed to paying for it regardless of if you want it anymore.

Q: If I pick any upgrades, when do I have to pay for them?

It is pretty standard for builders to require you to pay for your upgrades at the time of selection since the upgrades are specific to your house and the products have to be ordered in advance. Since the selected upgraded are not standard, the chance of using them on another home is less likely.  It is important for the builder to gain your financial commitment to the selected upgrades so they can get them ordered for you and get their schedule started.


Q: How long will it take to build MY home?

A: This is a very important question, as this will have a large impact on you receiving the home and moving in within an acceptable time. We outlined the construction process from start to finish in this blog “New Construction Process Overview” which shows the timeline from start to finish. You can expect about 30-45 days for financing, 30 days for architect and engineered plans, 30 days for permitting and 5-7 months for construction.  To save time your builder should order your architectural plans and surveys while your loan is getting processed.  Larger homes will take longer and all homes may be delayed because of any of the following; Weather, back order of supplies and shortage of labor.

Final Thoughts:

Setting the expectations is truly important when making a big investment like your home. Be weary of a builder who makes too many promises without fully explaining the process. Sometimes it is better to hear and accept the harder answers than to listen to unrealistic promises.