After we narrowed down our list of potential builders, we started scheduling in-person meetings. Our goal for the initial meeting was to get a feel for whether or not we could work well with the builder. Your builder doesn’t need to be someone that could be your best friend, but they need to be someone you can trust and communicate with easily. Below are some questions that are good to cover during this initial meeting:
What is your background and how long have you been in the custom home industry?
- Depending upon the amount of growth and current home building going on in your area, finding sub-contractors and getting them on schedule can be difficult for new builders. Having an experienced builder with long-standing relationships with sub-contractors is important.
How many projects do you have going on at this time and do you have the capacity for new projects?
- May seem like an obvious question, but some custom home builders have a maximum capacity of houses per year. It is good to understand the number of projects as well as the stage of other projects your potential builder is working on.
Have you built in this particular area before?
- Like I’ve said before, building codes vary by city so if your builder has a better understanding of the codes in your area it could lead to a smoother permitting process.
What types of finishes are generally in your homes?
- They will likely say it will vary depending on the owner but you can ask about typical size of base and crown modeling, ceiling heights, types of appliances, etc.
Do you have certain vendors you work with or are you open to other vendors/ suppliers?
- If your builder is open to utilizing other vendors, you could find additional cost savings by shopping around.
Do you include engineered drawings in your pricing?
- Engineered drawings run ~$8,000 so if it isn’t included, you need to be sure to budget for it otherwise.
Is time with an interior designer included? If so, who do you usually use?
- You are going to be making a lot of selections so it may be beneficial to have time with an interior designer to make sure everything in the house flows together.
Is the demo and site work included in pricing?
- Demolition runs from about $8,000 to $10,000 depending on your area.
Do you have any projects completed and under construction I can walk through or any references I can contact?
- Visiting a house under construction as well as a completed house can give you a great idea about the level of workmanship typical with potential builders. Also, in speaking with references you can learn about how the process was for them and get advice on anything they wish they had known before starting their projects.
We scheduled meetings with six different builders and went through many of these questions above and a few others. After the first round of meetings, we were able to narrow it down to four. It may sound slow, but progress nonetheless!