7 key questions to ask your builder before you break ground
by First Financial Bank

One of the greatest perks of building a new home is making the choices to get exactly what you want. You choose the land, floor plan, style and all of the details that make a house your home. While you may already be dreaming of a jetted bathtub and custom kitchen cabinets, your first and most important decision is to select a builder. Ask builders these seven key questions to pinpoint a construction company you can trust.

How long have you been in business?

Experience and reputation are vital in the construction business. Make sure you partner with a reliable company that builds with good quality, design and value. A professional and capable builder will stand the test of time. If a newer builder is appealing to you, be sure to ask for references and certifications and talk with some of their customers for reviews.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

Inquire about which qualities define this builder and what could make it your best match. Identify their top values and compare them to your own. Watch for what matters most to you: multiple options, personalized customer service, efficiency, knowledge. Select a partner with values that match yours and who you feel confident trusting.

Can I see examples of your recent work?

Photos on websites and brochures can make any home look good, but nothing can replace a site visit. Tour a completed or in-progress home to feel the flooring under your feet and observe craftsmanship with your own eyes. Talk to recent clients about their building experiences. If a model home is available, look past its designer décor and try to envision your furnishings and lifestyle in that space. The quality of a builder’s work speaks for itself.

What is included in the cost of my home?

Features and costs vary greatly from a base-level home to a more customized model with upgrades and add-ons. Request a comprehensive list of what is and what is not included in the base price and check it twice. It can be an expensive misunderstanding if you assume a model home represents the standards. A display home often acts as a showcase of the top-range of features rather than the base-level. Many of the details you find appealing may not be included. Flooring, lighting, hardware, finishes—choose carefully, because upgrades can quickly raise the price tag on your new home. Explore upgrades with your builder to finalize your bottom line.

When will my home be finished and how do you handle complications?

It’s not a matter of knowing if complications will arise in your home construction project, but that your builder is prepared to respond when complications crop up. Home construction is complex with many moving parts. Setbacks and delays are common. Inquire about the timeline for an average build and then ask for the actual timeline for the last 10 builds they’ve completed. An experienced and professional construction company should be able to provide an accurate move-in date and can guide you on areas that typically cause a delay. Building a home from the ground up involves a complicated schedule that is easily changed by weather, delivery hiccups and contractor communication. Find out what safeguards a builder takes to stay on time.

What home warranties do you offer?

Home warranties offer protection from issues that may arise well after your home passes inspection. Because you are the first to live in a newly constructed home, problems may become apparent only after you move in. A home warranty requires the builder to make a repair to address the trouble. Find out what home warranties are offered by the builder. A good warranty covers structural issues, major systems such as plumbing, electrical and HVAC, as well as materials and labor.

How do you communicate with your clients?

Identify who will be your point person at the company. It’s important to understand the chain of command between you and your builder. Know how the builder addresses corrections and changes, especially at key points in the construction process like inspections and walk-throughs. The best companies display effective communication and conflict management strategies. This helps reduce stress in what could be a process filled with challenging situations.

From foundation to roof, each step of building your new home is crucial. Save time, money and frustration on your new home construction when you ask your builder these key questions before you commit. These conversations are the foundation for an effective partnership between you and your builder, resulting in the perfect home, built specially for you.

First Financial Bank’s Residential Construction Loans offer you the freedom of choice. You choose the builder and we arrange your financing. You make the decisions that make your house a home and we take care of the rest. Learn how First Financial can help you on the path to homebuilding success. Visit to connect with a mortgage officer near you.

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