Buying a new home is a big decision and you want to get full value for your investment. This means choosing an established and reputable builder, someone who has the technical skills and knowledge to build a good home, and someone who will deal with you fairly and professionally.
Fortunately, there are many good builders around, and with a little effort you will have no trouble finding someone who is right for you. Before you enter into a legal agreement with anyone, you should do a little qualifying of your of you own: Is this the kind of company that you want to do business with, and how can you be sure that you will get the home and the service you want? Here are some questions you may want to ask:
Is home building your profession?
Home building is a serious business. It takes commitment to keep up with everything going on in the industry. It requires solid business skills and a track record of satisfied clients. If a “builder” proposes to build your home as a part-time job, you should proceed with caution. If this “builder” offers you a “better” financial deal, you need to wonder if you will really save in the long run – the adage that you usually get what you pay for holds true for home buying as well. (Effective July 1, 1999, builders must be licensed to apply for a building permit.)
What is your experience and how long have you been in business?
Good builders are proud of their track record and they will be happy to tell you that their experience, their strengths and what sets them apart from others. They will be honest with you about what they can do for you, when and for how much.
Are you a member of the Greater Homebuilders Association Vancouver?
Membership in the HAVAN is an indication of a builder’s commitment to the industry, to the success of their own company and, ultimately, to their customers. Members voluntarily adopt a Code of Ethics which calls for fair and honest dealings with both consumers and the people with whom they do business.
What after-sales service does you company provide?
Professional builders stand behind their homes with an after-sales service program to correct minor problems that may occur with your new home. Ask how the program works, how homeowners request service, and how quickly service problems are resolved normally.
What kind of warranty do we get with our new home?
Ask builders to explain the details. As of July 1, home warranties are mandatory in B.C.
Will you give us references from your past clients?
Professional builders are pleased to provide references. Contact past customers to find out how satisfied they are with their homes. Ask if they were completed on budget and on time, what the builder was like to work with (easy to talk with, understanding, helpful), and about the company’s after-sales service.
Can we visit your work site?
The work site offers many clues about the company and the quality of the builder’s homes. Ask for a tour of a home under construction and a chance to meet the site crew (access to the site might be restricted due to insurance regulations). Take note of details: Is the site clean and well organized? Are materials properly stored, out of the weather? Is your overall impression of the site and workers positive?
Remember that when you buy a home you are also “buying” the builder – you need to pay as much attention to choosing the right builder as you do the right home. Taking the simple steps suggested here will give you the information you need to choose a builder with confidence.