Hiring a builder? Ask These 14 Vital Questions First
Your very own home construction project could be one of the biggest financial decisions you ever make, so you may be feeling the pressure when it comes to deciding on who to hire to help you out.
Your building team is something you don’t want to buckle under said pressure, but how can you know if you’re hiring the right builder?
The answer is by doing just that – asking questions.
By knowing the key things to ask a builder, you will get to know who they are and what type of builder they are. And, most importantly, if they’re the right builder for you.
So keep reading for 14 top questions to ask a builder before signing a contract.
1. Would I Be Able To See Some Of Your Finished Projects?
This is a good question to ask fairly early on as you will want your finished project to be perfect, right?
A great sign that you’re onto a high-quality builder who can deliver on that promise, is if they have a portfolio of finished products ready to view on their website. If they do, then everything you need is right there before even having to reach out.
By seeing a builder’s finished projects, you get to see:
- The quality of their work
- If their finished projects are consistently impressive
- Any particular style they may have – does this style match your project?
- The scale of work they’re used to – do they have mostly large or smaller projects in their portfolio?
- Contained in their portfolio may be case studies that describe a problem they came across and how they solved that problem
2. How Long Have You Been In Business?
While it is perfectly fine to hire a new builder who may not have been in business long, a good sign that a builder is worth working with, is if they have been in business for a decent amount of time.
That being said, just because a builder has been going for a long time, it doesn’t automatically mean they are one of the best.
But we still think this is one of the best things to ask a builder because if they lack experience, they should let you know why this is and if this is an area they lack in, what can they offer that makes up for that?
And if they have been in business for a long time, they should have no trouble offering references, customer reviews, and showing proof of great work.
3. Do You Have References, Reviews or Testimonials From Past Clients?
This is one of those really important questions to ask a builder before hiring them. And it doesn’t really need explaining why.
The best way of being assured that you’re hiring the right builder for the job is by seeing and hearing what they have done for others like you. When a builder comes to you with heaps of high praise at their back, you know that praise was earned.
4. What Experience Do You Have With My Kind Of Project?
Whether you’re building a new forever home from the ground up, extending your current property for more space, or renovating your home to suit your needs, you want a builder who has been there and done that.
Even the biggest construction companies may not have experience in your kind of project if it is something more unique. And on the flip side, there may be a specialised builder who solely works on your kind of project who would be the ideal option.
This is especially important if your project is a less common one, such as a timber frame extension or barn conversion.
5. If I Choose To Work With You, Will You Manage The Project?
This is a massively important question to ask a builder as you want no doubt heading into your project.
If you want the whole thing taken care of for you, then you need to be certain that your builder has a project manager ready to take the reins. Whereas if you want to be the one calling all of the shots, you will need to make this clear.
6. How Many Projects Do You Work On At Any Given Time?
You may think it’s none of your business or that this is a somewhat nosey question, but you’re making a big decision here, so you want to ensure that the builder you’re working with won’t have stretched themselves too thin that your project misses out on the attention it deserves.
It’s natural to want your project to be the sole focus of your builder, but this may not be the case.
Though remember, if your builder says they will be working on other projects at the same time as yours, ask them how they plan to keep on top of all the work.
7. Would I Be Able To Visit A Project You Are Currently Working On?
We love this question to ask a builder before hiring them because if you have the opportunity to visit a current job in progress, you can see how this builder operates.
It’s almost like seeing a trial run of your project before spending any cash; this is even more of an advantage if you are allowed to visit a project that is similar to yours.
8. Do You Have Insurance Cover?
Like some of the most prominent things in your life, such as your home and vehicle, having insurance is a no-brainer.
Hopefully, your project will go off without a hitch, but you never know what can happen, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure your builder is covered for any accidents.
9. Is Your Price A Quote Or Estimation?
If you’ve gotten as far as being told a price, you need to be clear on whether this is a quote or an estimation.
What’s the difference between a quote and an estimation? An estimation is not the final price and it isn’t binding. But a quote is the price stated for the work that will be undertaken.
10. Do You Use Subcontractors? If So, How Do You Know They Are Reliable?
Many builders use subcontractors to help them with their projects. A builder may use a subcontractor for more specialised work, such as:
- Interior Designing
It’s important your builder assures you that if they do employ the help of subcontractors that they are only using the best people for the job.
It’s also handy to know if these subcontractors have their own insurance cover or perhaps they are covered by your builder’s insurance.
11. Will Architectural Services Be Included With My Project?
Architecture is a massive part of a lot of different types of construction projects. The likelihood is that you will need an architect for a big project, such as building a custom home.
What you need to be clear on is if the architectural services you need are being supplied by the builder or if that is something you need to arrange.
Most construction companies nowadays offer a design and build service which encapsulates every aspect of your build, including the architecture.
12. How Will I Pay?
It’s one of the most important things to know which is why we’ve included it in our list of questions to ask your builder before signing a contract.
Rarely will a builder ever ask for an upfront payment, especially with larger projects. Usually, payments will be made in stages and these stages should be explained to you.
13. How Will We Stay In Communication With One Another?
Communication is so important – not prioritising communication is one of the biggest mistakes you want to avoid in construction.
Whether it’s in-person meetings, scheduled video meetings, or regular calling and emailing, being clear on how to communicate with your builder is essential.
And it works both ways – your builder should make time to communicate with you and you should do the same for your builder if needed.
14. Do You Offer A Guarantee?
Unfortunately, a pinky promise just isn’t going to cut it.
With so much time and investment on your end, you want some sort of guarantee that the work you’ve asked for gets done, and is completed based on everything you’ve agreed with the builder.
There you have 14 questions to ask a builder before signing a contract. We — as a construction company ourselves — highly recommend you ask your builder all the questions you want before making any big decisions.
And if you can think of more things to ask a builder, then create your own list. The goal in doing so is to ensure you’re considering the right people for the job.
At Bespoke Norfolk Group, we like to answer all of our potential customer’s questions at an initial meeting. If you have a project in mind, you can book your free meeting with us now to discuss the details of your build.