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7 questions to ask your homebuilder

By Kristen Price

For Zions Bank BrandView

Published: Thursday, July 17 2014 10:00 a.m. MDT

Building a home is a huge task. It's important for you to know what to ask your home builder before the process starts.

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When you’re building a home, your mind may be filled with visions of hardwood floors, spiral staircases and 10-foot ceilings. But if your due diligence begins and ends with your floor plan, you may be in for more problems than you bargained for. Before you hire your homebuilder, protect yourself — and your future home — by asking a few key questions.

These questions are recommended by professionals like New Home Source, Mortgage News Daily and through our experience at Zions Bank working with contractors and home builders.

What experience do you have?

When it comes to building a roof over your head, you want experience. Asking your builder how long the company has been in business and how many homes it has completed is a good way to determine its breadth of experience. Don't forget to ask for referrals you can contact from previous homes the contractor built.

Are you licensed and insured?

It may seem like a no-brainer to you, but you might be surprised how many builders hire subcontractors without proper licensing and insurance. Before you begin building your home, minimize your liability and potential for future issues by making sure that your builder, along with all of his subcontractors, are licensed and insured.

Can I see your past work?

To get a better idea of your builder’s skill level and experience, ask for a list of homes or communities he has built. Pay particular attention to homes that are more than 10 years old, which may help you better determine the quality of workmanship.

Who will be my primary point of contact?

Building a home is a big undertaking, and you’ll likely be heavily involved in the process. For this reason, you’ll want to understand how your homebuilder and their associates communicate with you. Ask for a single point of contact that will be your go-to when you need an update or have a question.

Can I make changes or request upgrades throughout the process?

One of the benefits of building a new home is the opportunity to customize it to your needs and lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to ask your builder about the possibility for making changes or upgrades throughout the building process. If you decide three months into the project that you absolutely have to have a breakfast nook, are you out of luck?

Does the community include an HOA and CC&R?

If your home is being built within a planned community, you’ll want to know the specifics about that community. Ask your builder whether there is an established homeowners association, or "HOA," in place, and what monthly dues you can expect. You may also want to get a copy of the “covenants, conditions & restrictions,” which will outline the rules and requirements for living in the community.

Will I know the final cost of the home before I sign a contract?

Building a home can be a complex process, and any issues that arise are not only inconvenient, but most likely costly as well. Ask your builder for the final cost of your home, including a detailed list of those items or circumstances that could cause the price to fluctuate.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.

Zions Bank® Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, NMLS# 467014 ZionsBank.com®.

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