Top Questions to Ask a Custom Home Builder Before Signing a Contract

Buying a home is exciting. Building a custom home is doubly so because you can get exactly what you want. But don’t let the rush of adrenaline cloud your judgment. Before signing a contract with a custom home builder, make sure to ask these critical questions to avoid unpleasant surprises.

How Many Homes Are You Building Currently?

The more homes a builder has in progress, particularly if they’re a smaller contractor, the more trustworthy they likely are. It indicates that they’re reliable and that their work is in demand.

It also demonstrates good project management skills, which are critical to if they’re to deliver your new home on time and budget. Of course, if they’re busy, it’s wise to ask them if they have the capacity to take on your project.

As a Custom Home Builder, What Warranties Do You Include?

Most new construction builders warranty their work for a certain period of time. However, the items included and how long those warranties last can vary from company to company.

A good warranty will generally cover critical systems such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC for two years. Cosmetic elements are covered for one. Strong warranties indicate a builder that’s confident in their work, and that confidence is likely earned.

How Long Can I Expect the House to Take?

A reputable custom home builder should be able to give you a reasonably good estimate of how long it will take to build your home. If they’ve been in the business for a sufficiently long time, their experience will allow them to make educated guesses for even the most custom of homes.

If they aren’t willing to provide a time frame, or if their estimate is too long or seems unrealistically fast, be skeptical. It’s okay if they don’t hit the target date precisely. It is an estimate after all. But you should feel comfortable based on your conversation that they’ll work hard to finish in the span provided.

What Sort of Customizations Do You Allow?

You’re limited to whatever’s on the market when you buy an existing home, but when you build your own you can do whatever you want, right?

Often, yes, but not with every company. A custom home builder will sometimes limit the features you can request for inclusion in your plans. The last thing you want to do is sign a contract and then discover that they aren’t willing to make a critical modification. Be sure your builder is sufficiently custom to meet your needs.

Is a Cost Escalation Clause Included in the Contract?

These clauses allow builders to increase the cost of your home in response to unforeseen circumstances.

In some cases, this is reasonable. You might expect your cost to rise if the builder discovers massive rocks hiding in the ground when they start digging the basement. But if their material costs go up unexpectedly, most consumers would consider that a cost of doing business that they shouldn’t have to cover.

Ask your builder if they have a cost escalation clause. If they do, make sure they explain what’s included and what isn’t. If you’re not comfortable with the way it’s written, don’t sign.

Ask Your Custom Home Builder How Long You Have to Cancel

Most people have experienced buyer’s remorse at some point in their lives. You make a big purchase, and then shortly after, you regret the decisions you made.

Building a custom home is undoubtedly a big purchase. Ask your custom home builder how long you have to cancel without forfeiting your earnest money deposit. You’ll want at least a few days after signing to be sure you’re still comfortable with your choices.

Are You and Your Subcontractors Fully Licensed, Bonded, and Insured?

Ask your builder to show you proof that they are properly covered for all three of these requirements. If they use external subcontractors, check any relevant credentials they should hold as well. If your builder can’t or won’t provide documentation, walk away.

Remember, you need to be completely comfortable with the contract you’re signing. A reputable home builder will be happy to discuss anything that worries you. If at any point you feel rushed or pressured to sign something you don’t yet understand, pull away from the table. There are other, better builders that would be happy to have your business.

If you’re looking to build a new home in the Stanwood/Camano Island, WA area, give us a call at Cannon Construction Group. We’re fully transparent and happy to explain everything that our contracts include. Get a free consultation today! Remote appointments are available.