5 Questions to Ask Your Custom Home Builder Before Hiring
In my experience, building a custom home is one of the most exciting and pivotal moments in a family’s life. Getting started, however, can feel like a huge, mysterious undertaking. Who should you hire first? When should you start? What do you need to know to achieve the results you’re hoping for?
The answers to most of these questions can be found in my complimentary guide, 5 Things to Know Before Building or Renovating a Home. But today, I want to focus on just one aspect of building a custom home: hiring your builder.
Feeling trust and a connection with your home builder is equally as important as connecting with your interior designer. Building a custom home is a lengthy process (usually 1-2+ years), so finding someone you can trust and depend on for the long haul is essential. Their performance and workmanship impact the success of your entire project.
This is why we always recommend interviewing your builder before hiring. Of course, establishing a natural connection is important, but there are specific questions that will provide clarity and guide the building process to be as smooth as possible. Here’s what we suggest asking…
Question 1: What is your current timeline?
This should be one of your first questions for a potential builder since it will determine if they will be available for your project. Many construction teams are scheduled months in advance, so it makes sense to begin your search early to have the ability to select from a wide pool of options.
An inside tip? If you hire your designer first, they will provide valuable insights and recommendations for builders they know, trust, and have worked with. To cut down on my client’s research and guesswork, I often recommend a builder based on the scope of their project.
Question 2: Who do I contact when I have a question?
Every builder is different, and the level of communication varies widely from team to team. Some builders can handle constant questions with ease, and some simply cannot. If you enjoy asking many questions and prefer to constantly stay informed and on top of every detail, finding a builder who embraces this communicative relationship should be high on your priority list.
Ask your builder who will be the primary point of contact for your specific project, how to get in touch, and what days they work so you can feel comfortable and confident that your questions will always be answered.
Question 3: When do we meet as a team?
Regular meetings with your team are a pivotal part of the home-build process. Understanding the builder’s organizational skills and how they handle timelines can save your future self from frustration and confusion. Do they have a specific day for meetings? Is there a business manager to keep track of scheduling? How far in advance are meetings scheduled? Without a clear schedule of meetings, your project is bound to be delayed.
Question 4: When do you need our final selections?
Construction teams with a well-run system for procuring materials are usually very successful at keeping a project in forward motion. So if you expect your builder to order any items for you, asking this question can tell you a lot about how your project may (or may not) progress.
An answer of a specific date or time frame is very different from, “I’ll let you know the day before.” For example, discovering at the last minute that your selected tile is on backorder will force you to quickly choose a new one. This will result in a decision you may not love, a delay in your project’s timeline, and possibly still having to pay for the already scheduled tile layer. Trust me, it’s not how you want your project’s details handled.
Question 5: Do you collaborate with architects and designers?
If you have already hired a designer or architect, this is a make-or-break question. But even if you haven’t, it’s still worth asking. You’ll learn the builder’s level of flexibility and whether they are open to outside help and changes to the initial concepts during the design process.
If you’re building a new custom home, your project may require a designer, builder, and/or architect, depending on the type (Not sure? Find out who you’ll need on your team here). Some builders are experienced with working with other professionals, while others aren’t. Knowing this information before you hire them will help you manage your expectations when construction is underway.
Who do we suggest?
Now that you are armed with your interview questions, you may be wondering how to conquer the next item on your to-do list: finding a reputable builder.
My advice? Referrals. If you have a friend or neighbor who recently completed a home project, ask about the builder they used, if they’d recommend them and why.
An even better place to start? Hire a designer first. Experienced interior designers have vast networks of professional relationships and can connect you with builders who they feel would be a good fit for your project.
If you’d like some support and guidance through the team-assembling process, I’d love to help. Reach out to me, and let’s find the right professionals to bring your beautiful dreams to life.
I’m Ingrid Porter. As a designer with 30+ years of experience serving Northeastern Ohio, I specialize in personal and detail-driven design for families building or transforming the home of their dreams. If you’re ready to take “home” to the next level, we can’t wait to work with you.