Saturday, October 17, 2009

What to Ask a Reference

Before we signed the contract with our builder, we visited a home they built that was similar to the style we liked (and could afford!). And we absolutely loved it! We also asked for the contact information of a few references. Any reputable builder should be able to give you names of homeowners they’ve recently worked with. Once you get a reference on the phone, don’t be afraid to ask them lots of questions.

Here’s what we asked:
  1. How long did the project take? Was that on par with what you were told?

  2. What aspects of the project did the builder do really well?

  3. Was there anything in the process that could have been handled differently or improved upon?

  4. Was the builder mindful of your budget until the end of the project?

  5. Before construction began, did you meet one on one to discuss plans and budget?

  6. Throughout the project, did the builder give you regular updates on the status of the project, both in terms of construction and keeping to the budget?

  7. How often did you communicate with the builder during the building process?

  8. Did the builder explain a change order process, in case you wanted to make changes to the home during construction? If so, how did the process work out?

  9. Was the quality of the builder’s work to your satisfaction?

  10. Have you had any problems with the workmanship since your house has been completed? If so, was the builder willing and able to fix any problems that you’ve encountered?

  11. Would you work with the builder again?

  12. Since this is our first homebuilding experience, do you have any tips or suggestions that worked well for you or things you wish you would have done?
All the references we contacted spoke at length about their experience with the builder, and their homebuilding experience in general. None were too busy to talk. None were fazed by our never-ending list of questions. And I gained a bit of confidence when I learned that they all lived out of state during the construction process too.

We shelved our anxiety and drove up to New Hampshire soon after making these phone calls. We were on our way to signing a contract!

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