making a deal

Before You Sign a Contract, Ask Your Home Builder These 7 Questions—Especially #4

Whether because of the ability to customize or the unique experience of seeing your home grow into life, purchasing a yet-to-be-completed house is always an exciting prospect.

It also invites the buyer to be a bit pickier than one can get when moving into something that was already there. But what should you be particular about?

Well, since we have many homeowners in this exact situation here at Upper East River, we thought we’d put together a list of things you should be thinking about. Before you sign a contract, ask your home builder these 7 questions!

1. How much can I customize? 


paint and fabric swatches

Photography by Pixabay

This is a hugely important query to pose, because the answer can vary widely from project to project, depending on the builder’s approach.

Most builders are trying to adhere to a certain look that architects have established for the neighborhood, but depending on whether HOAs are already involved and how strict local building codes are, anything from how you landscape your lawn to what your kitchen layout looks like could be restricted somewhat.

Even details that might seem small, like light fixtures and appliances, could be locked in depending on how predesigned your community intends to be. You can, of course, change these out later. But, you don’t want to plan on the builder installing a specific dream chandelier of yours only to hear at the last minute that they aren’t able to do that under this contract.

Some people want to design their home from scratch. Others want something state-of-the-art and turnkey. Either approach creates beautiful homes, but it’s so important to ensure that you and your builder are on the same page as to what your home should be.

2. Was the model home upgraded in any way? 


new build home

Photography by Binyamin Mellish

In the same vein as the conversation above, you always want to make sure you understand what is included in the exact home/package you are purchasing. This might seem obvious, but it doesn’t always feel clear when you’re touring a gorgeous model.

Most of us would have the tendency to get swept away by a model we really love—indeed, that is sort of the purpose of a model home—and simple say, “Yep, I want this.” But here’s the thing: Builders want to show off their very best. So, if you’re touring a model home, it’s a good idea to ask your home builder to confirm some details before signing on the dotted line.

Ask if the team upgraded any features, finishes, etc. for the sake of presentation, and find out if the price they’re quoting you is for all of that, or a base model. If you love an upgraded model and the original price doesn’t reflect it, inquire about how much it will cost (and how much longer it will take) to add those elements to your residence.

3. Is there a warranty? 



Photography by Pixabay

It might depend on who your builder is and whether or not your home is a part of a big community development project, but it’s possible it will come with a warranty. This often covers things like plumbing and electrical for a period of several years.

4. Could you put us in touch with references? 


friendly conversation

Photography by Christina Morillo

This is a great question to ask for two reasons.

First, if the builder seems reluctant to give you the contact info for past clients, or if they make an excuse to explain why they can’t, that could be a red flag.

Second, if you do get to chat with past clients, you can gain honest insight on the deal you’re about to make. How reliable is the team? Did any problems come up during the process? Were they willing to make small cosmetic changes if an idea came up during the process? These are all things you can get the scoop on from a current owner, especially if they have a home in the same neighborhood you’ll be buying into.

The aforementioned questions should be asked of the builder too, though.

5. How long will it take? 


calendar and planning

Photography by Anete Lusina

Keep in mind that there are many things that can influence building timelines, so you should never expect an absolute answer here. Still, it’s worth knowing how quickly they hope to accomplish your goals.

6. How do you handle complications? 


frustrated woman

Photography by Alexander Dummer

We all want to realize our dream home with as little stress as possible, right? Well, a major helpmate in successfully doing that is going to be how you/your builder and team deal with the setbacks that inevitably come up.

Scheduling, budget, standard processes—all of these and more can be impacted heavily by even the smallest unexpected discovery. Maybe the site has a geographical feature you’ll have to work around or a material needed to make the foundation is in shortage. No matter the issue, you want to know how it will be handled and what your involvement will be. Ask your home builder about it.

7. Can I back out? 


leaving out the door

Photography by Dương Nhân

Certainly, none of us sign a contract to build a home with this scenario in mind, but when it comes to such a financially and emotionally powerful purchase, it’s worth contemplating. Maybe you don’t end up feeling that the quality of construction is up to par, or perhaps the finishes aren’t what was promised. Or, maybe one of you gets “the” job in another state. Will you be able to exit the contract? If so, will you lose a deposit?


Once you’ve asked all of these questions, we think you’ll be more than prepared to make the best decision for you and your future!

riverfront living

If you’ve been mulling over the idea of residing in Upper East River and have any of these questions for us, please feel free to get in touch! We’d love to have a chat, with a view like the above in the background …

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