7 essential questions to ask a home builder

Before choosing a company to build your home, take the time to ask them these seven questions first

Building a new home ranks as one of the biggest financial commitments most people ever make. Understandably, it’s also quite a daunting undertaking, with a seemingly unending list of decisions – from which suburb to build in to the best type of exterior cladding.

When it comes time to choose a home builder, you’ll find the rest of the process much easier if you have the answers to these seven questions.

Home builders in New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are two ways you can get a house built for you – unless of course you pick up a hammer and build it yourself!

  • Fully custom: This is usually a local builder or small to medium size company. They can obviously produce some exceptional homes, but it’s important to vet them carefully. We recommend asking to speak to some of their customers and, if possible, touring homes they’ve built.
  • Home building company: GJ Gardner, Fowler Homes, Sentinel Homes and others are a popular option for many – and for good reason. Most of these larger companies have a reputation for quality, affordable homes, and can often tailor designs for your land and needs. Many offer fully custom homes, too.

Sentinel Homes cottage, elevation, estate, facade, farmhouse, home, house, land lot, property, real estate, residential area, roof, villa, teal
Sentinel Homes

Question 1: What type of homes do you usually build?

While most of the bigger home builders have pretty comprehensive websites with galleries of their finished homes you can browse through, you may need to ask a smaller home builder for examples. This is an important question, as you’ll be able to get an idea of the style they typically build, and whether this matches up with what you want.

You really don’t want to get an expert in heritage home renovations to construct your contemporary beach house!

Question 2: Is it a fixed price?

One of the most important questions you need to ask. This should be in the contract, so you don’t get hit with any nasty unexpected expenses. As many will attest, home construction projects tend to balloon out beyond their original budgets, and knowing exactly what expenses sit outside of the original agreement with the builder or construction company is important.

Question 3: Who is my contact throughout the project?

Suss out the lines of communication before putting pen to paper to ensure you’re not left in the dark wanting answers throughout the build. If you know exactly who to contact, you can ask about the progress of the project and solve problems much easier.

Fowler Homes architecture, backyard, cottage, elevation, estate, facade, home, house, property, real estate, shed, siding, yard
Fowler Homes

Question 4: How long will the build take?

Beyond just an estimated end date, ask for a fixed schedule and regular progress reports. It’s good to have information about each stage of the construction, when the builder plans to complete each stage and at what times they expect to get plumbers, electricians and landscapers on site.

If you’re coordinating aspects of the build (for example you’re installing solar panels), a schedule can be a life-saver.

Question 5: How will you handle security?

Construction sites are prime targets for opportunistic thieves – something that’s not altogether surprising given the value of some construction materials left overnight. Make sure you ask your home builder how they plan to keep the site (and your home) secure when they’re not there.

Question 6: How will you handle site improvements?

Grading, permits, engineer reports and everything in between – You need to ask the home builder who’s responsible for the site-related jobs that need to be carried out. Ask first, as there’s a chance these things could be added on as expensive unexpected fees.

Question 7: Do you see any issues with my build?

This is a good question to ask at different stages throughout the project. If you’re aware of any potential issue, you can make better and more informed decisions. Try not to be put off when a builder explains the issues to you – it’s better to be in the know than out of it!

Some of New Zealand’s most popular home builders

Story by: David Renwick

02 Aug, 2020

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