Building a New Home
Wondering about getting the best possible value for your home-buying money? Concerned about making the right choices for you and your family? Not sure how to find the right builder? Worried about getting the quality and service you want?
When you are thinking about buy a new home, it's a good idea to turn to a CHBA builder member.
- Membership in the CHBA is a strong indication that a new home builder is a professional, dedicated to the business of home building, committed to customer satisfaction and in business for the long term.
- Membership in the Association is voluntary. Members agree to the CHBA's Code of Ethics, which is based on principles of fairness, integrity and consumer satisfaction.
- Being a professional new home builder means constant learning. Through the CHBA, members can keep up to date on technological advances, regulations, products and materials, financing, design and so on-in short, what they need to know to provide home buyers with the best and latest in the marketplace.
- Home building is teamwork that takes the skills, expertise and cooperation of many suppliers and trades. Builders who belong to the CHBA have ready access to a network of professional companies and individuals providing services to the residential construction industry.
- Managing a successful home building business means understanding what's going on in the community, and how it might affect the industry and consumers. Association members have access to wide range of information to keep them informed and up-to-date on important issues. They also have opportunities to meet and work with local decision-makers.
When you buy a new home you want to get full value for your investment. This means choosing an established and reputable builder—someone you can trust, someone who has the technical skills, a proven track record and a professional business approach.
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 contract with anyone, ask lots of questions to make sure it is the kind of company you want to do business with.
Is home building your profession? Home building is a serious business. It takes commitment to keep up with everything that is 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 part-time, you should proceed with caution. If this builder offers you a "better" financial deal, you need to wonder. The old adage that you get what you pay for holds true for home buying as well.
What is your experience, and how long have you been in business? Good builders are proud of their track record, whether they have been in business for 3 or 30 years. They will tell you about their background, their training and 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 Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA)? Membership in the Association is an indication of a builder's commitment to the industry, to the success of their own company and, ultimately, to their customers. Members agree to a Code of Ethics that calls for fair and honest dealings with consumers.
Are you a member of a home warranty program? Warranty programs provide additional protection for the home buyer's investment. In some regions, there is a variety of warranties available. Ask the builder to explain the details—you want the warranty that best meets your needs for both the short and the long term.
Will you give us references from your past clients? Contact past customers to find out how satisfied they are with their new home. Ask if the home was 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.
What after-sales service does your company provide? Professional builders stand behind their homes with an after-sales service program. Ask the builder to explain the program in some detail: what's covered, how to request service and the typical response time.
Can we visit your work site(s)? 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. Take note of the details: is the site clean and orderly, are materials stored out of the weather, and so on.
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. Asking the questions suggested here will give you the information you need to choose a builder with confidence.
Today, everybody talks about customer service and satisfaction. What does it mean when you are buying a new home? What does a home building company really mean when it says, "We are service oriented"?
In a nutshell, it means that the builder puts you, the customer, first. The company is building your home and working to satisfy your needs. The builder strives to make each step in the buying and building process easy and worry-free for you and your family. And you will still be treated as a valued customer long after you move into your new home.
The size of a company has little to do with service. Large or small, today's building companies work hard to provide personalized service to each and every customer. Here are some thoughts on what you can and should expect.
Expect the builder and/or sales and site staff to be:
- Open and upfront-good service begins with honesty, trust and good communication.
- Knowledgable-good service depends on in-depth product and process knowledge.
- Prompt and efficient-good service sets and respects realistic timelines.
- "On your side"-customer-oriented builders and staff work for you and with you.
When you first visit the sales office or model home, expect the builder or staff to:
- Be interested in knowing your housing needs and wants: style, size, features, amenities, price range, location and timing. That way they can show you the most suitable homes and options.
- Take you on a tour of the model home(s), or give you detailed descriptions based on scale models, maps, drawings and blueprints.
- Explain the company's approach to design and finishing, and your opportunities to customize.
- Be able to tell you about the development and the area in detail-a profile of who has bought to date, amenities and features, schools, transportation, shopping and so on.
- Provide you with helpful information to take home.
Once you are ready to buy, expect the builder or staff to:
- Give you a clear explanation of the entire process-who is responsible for what; construction and payment milestones; what's needed on closing; after-sales service and warranty.
- Give you an idea of closing costs-what's involved, and general cost ranges.
- Provide you with a detailed written contract.
- Respect your wish to think about it and not pressure you to sign a contract.
- Appoint a contact (e.g., the builder, the sales manager or the salesperson) who will always return your messages promptly and never be too busy to deal with you.
- Make arrangements for your site visits during construction.
- Give you regular progress updates.
- And of course, deliver what they promised, when they promised to.
Once your home is completed, expect them to:
- Explain what is covered by warranties, for how long, and how to request after-sales service.
- Explain what you can expect the first year, and a schedule of contact and check-ups.
- Ask you about your experiences with their company and your satisfaction with our new home, so they know what they are doing right and where there is room for improvement.
For most people, buying a new home means purchasing a home on a lot. However, some people begin the new home process by buying their lot first and then finding someone to build their home for them.
You need to be careful about who you hire. You want to get the best value for your money. You also want to know that you are protected in case something goes wrong. Only a professional home builder can give you that peace of mind.
Don't take chances. Don't choose someone to build your home just because you think you will save a few dollars. Make sure you ask the right questions and have all the necessary information before you make a decision. This is particularly important if you run into part-time builders who offer to build your home in their spare time or "underground" builders who offer to build your home without "all that expensive paperwork".
- Not just anyone can build a house. It takes skills, experience and knowledge. Professional builders keep their skills honed and stay up-to-date on building techniques and products. They are familiar with building regulations as well as permit and inspection requirements. They have a network of skilled trades and reliable suppliers, and they know how to schedule and manage the entire construction process efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Professional builders also protect their clients' interests. They carry workers' compensation and liability insurance, so you don't risk being responsible for any accidents on the job site. They show you proof of payment to subtrades and suppliers, so you know you won't have unpaid bills at the end of the process—bills that you may have paid but your builder failed to discharge. They also back up their commitment to their clients with a third-party warranty.
- Before you hire someone, make sure you know what you are getting into. Ask lots of questions about the builder's experience and track record. Ask about after-sales service and warranty. Check references carefully. Demand to see proof of insurance and workers compensation coverage. And MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS GET IT IN WRITING!
If you are uncertain about a company, keep on looking!