Choosing a builder is the single biggest decision you can make for the
success of your new home. Very
good builders are out there, but beware, others can cost you a great
of headache and money. To find the right one, research their
financial histories, visit their past projects, talk with their
suppliers and former customers. Most importantly, ask them a
of questions and listen carefully to their responses. Here
are a few be sure to ask...
is their policy on call-backs?
that performs call-backs, following up on problems after the
house is complete, signifies a builder that stands behind their work.
The best builders strive to reduce possible call-backs by
correcting past problems before they reoccur on new projects.
Whether their motivation is to minimize service costs or to
provide a better product, their reputation is paramount and this is the
type of builder that should be sought out. On the contrary, a
builder that limits the number of call-backs you're allowed or the time
frame problems can be reported, should be considered with caution.
Worst of all, is the builder that can not be found, after the
final payment is made.
do they determine allowance
are used by builders to assign a dollar value to a material or labor
cost in a bid, when the selection or scope is undetermined. Selecting
flooring, cabinetry, hardware,
plumbing and/or lighting fixtures can be a daunting task,
so selections like these are rarely made before a
contract is signed. To keep the
overall bid down, a builder will often set allowances low, so preferred
materials and finishes usually end up as extras. Allowances
are in the builder's favor and should be avoided in the final contract.
allowances must be used, identify what grade of products the builder's
figures are based, to avoid any differences in expectations, the
leading cause of cost over-runs.
they frame walls with 2x4 or 2x6 studs?
requirement for a stud wall, by the International Residential Code, is
2x4 framing. A builder that builds with 2x6 wall studs,
reflects a construction methodology based on personal standards, rather
than the lowest acceptable government standard. There are
hundreds of details like this in the construction of a house, that have
greater implications than the cost per square foot most people use to
measure a builder.
an intimate understanding of every facet, you become
dependent on the builder's recommendations and practices. A builder
accustomed to minimums is only concerned with cost and will
typically downgrade their product to the customer's knowledge base or
requirements. You want a
builder that imposes their own expectations of quality, based on years
of experience, when they decide on building materials and assembly
methods not spelled out by the contract's written specifications.
would be supervising the work on your house?
more significant, how many other projects will that person be
supervising while they are working on your home? The more
time spent on site by the job supervisor, the greater the quality
control. Sometimes equally important, a job supervisor on
site helps to expedite the scheduling of trades and ultimately the
completion date of the house. The rule of thumb in the
industry, is that between quality,
cost and time frame, only
two can be achieved and at the sacrifice of the third. As the
homeowner, you must prioritize which two are most important to you and
be willing to accept the implications of that decision. Once
it is made, the job supervisor must be informed, so they know where to
focus their attention.
they use No-VOC
organic compounds or VOC, are industrial chemicals found in solvents,
coatings and adhesives, which under normal conditions vaporize and
therefore may become harmful or toxic when confined to an indoor living
space. The Green
building movement has traditionally been embraced by builders
in the areas of energy efficiencies, water conservation, material waste
reduction and healthy built environments. Energy efficiency
measures, such as Low-E windows, high efficiency furnaces, and
housewraps reducing air infiltration are commonplace, with 90% of all
builders implementing these as standard practice. A better
measure of a builder's commitment to your interests, is the other end
of the spectrum with indoor air quality, polluted by such things as VOC
paints, cabinetry or flooring. Only 10% of all builders (Professional Builder,
Feb.2010) are concerned with this issue, so these builders are at the
top of their class.
If you have
been through the building process before, some of this might be
familiar to you. But, for a first-time homeowner, an
architect can be a valuable resource, explaining what to lookout for,
negotiating with the builder, or policing the construction to make sure
you get what you are paying for. Click
here to find out what separates me from other
Want 5 more
questions or maybe 5
ways to keep construction on budget? Send me an
email or give me a call, I have plenty of them.