BTL: 6 Tips for Interviewing a Builder

Having a custom home built is an enormous step. For some, the idea of jumping into such a huge project is overwhelming. Considering everything that goes into the process, this is completely understandable.
 
In order to minimize stress, it’s important that you bring in well-qualified professionals to guide you through the process. Finding the right team of people to work on your home is essential to making sure the end product is exactly as you dreamed it would be as well as getting rid of the overwhelm and, hopefully, even enjoying the experience. 
 
Obviously, a good team will consist of a few different professionals. However, we’re going to focus on the process of interviewing builders and finding one that’s right for you.
 
Here are our tips for making sure the interview process is productive. 
 
Request Important Documents
Before anything else happens, you’ll want to make sure your candidate is legally allowed to take on work. In Arizona, this means the builder will need to hold a contractor’s license as well as liability insurance. 
 
By asking for these documents up front, you can avoid wasting time with those who can’t legally work on your home. 
 
Check References
During the interview, be sure to ask for several references. Contact these references after the first meeting and ask for their opinion on the builder. 
 
Not sure what kinds of questions to ask? Consider the following:
 
  • Was your building project on time?
  • Did it stay on schedule throughout the process?
  • How did the builder handle stress?
  • What role did the builder take on during the project?
  • Does the builder keep things clean and organized?
  • Were there especially good or bad subcontractors working on the project?
 
Discuss Finances
Despite the fact that discussing finances can be uncomfortable, it’s absolutely necessary to do this during the interview process.
 
Ask for an estimate, find out what methods the builder will use to determine the final cost of the home, and learn how and when you will be notified of any unexpected expenses. Additionally, you’ll want to find out how the contractor expects to be compensated for his or her work in all phases of the process. 
 
Ask For a Timeline
Another super important discussion that must take place during interviews is the topic of scheduling. Ask your candidate how long they anticipate the project to take. Also, find out how they plan to communicate changes to the estimated timeline.
 
Get into the Nitty Gritty
Of course, there are several other nitty gritty details that should be discussed during an interview. Below are some of the most important questions that need to be addressed:
  • Are you willing and able to work alongside my designer?
  • Are you comfortable building the type of home we would like to have?
  • Who will supervise the construction of my home?
  • How often will the work be supervised?
  • What methods do you use to determine the competency of subcontractors?
  • Do you offer a warranty? If so, how is it serviced once construction has ended?
 
See Some Samples
Finally, it’s always good to see some samples. If you ask, your candidate should be able to provide you with samples of the following documents:
 
  • Contract (to include methods of compensation)
  • Budget (to include information on monthly bills and invoices)
  • Draw request to a lending institution (to include description of process)
  • Lien release (to include description of your rights)
  • Construction schedule (to include timeline, projected cash flow, and milestones)
  • Change order request (to include description of process)
  • Warranty
  • Operation and maintenance manual
 
Seeing these samples can really help you get a feel for how the builder works. They will also help you spot potential issues and get them ironed out before you sign anything. 
 
 
While requesting some of this information may leave you feeling a bit awkward, knowing you’re hiring a well-qualified individual who will do the job right is well worth it. Therefore, you’ll definitely want to include all of these steps during your builder interviews.
 
Keep looking until you find the perfect contractor, then sit back and enjoy the process.