When you build a custom home, there are plenty of decisions to make throughout the process, from lot selection and floorplan to paint colors and tile choices. The most important decision, however, is which custom home builder to use. While you will want to see samples of their work as well as recommendations from previous clients, there are several questions you should ask before moving forward.
Can we negotiate price?
Just because a floorplan or model has a specific list price does not mean that the price is non-negotiable. Custom home builders have been known to negotiate. This is where hiring an experienced real estate agent is important because they are expert negotiators.
Are you offering any incentives?
Another important topic to inquire about is incentives. Custom home builders often offer rotating, seasonal incentives to potential buyers. Free air conditioning as a summer incentive or free landscaping as a fall incentive are common options. Not having to pay for these items may free up money in your budget for extras, like wood flooring or upgraded kitchen grantite.
Do you provide in-house financing?
While you need to get pre-qualified with a mortgage loan officier before you start talking to builders, it is also important to ask if the custom builder is offering any in-house financing. Depending on the builder and local market conditions, the builder's in-house financing may be a better deal than you can get at your local bank.
Can you make changes to the insulation?
While every builder includes the appropriate R-value of fiberglass insulation in a custom home, you may want to make a few adjustments here. If you prefer an eco-conscious build, discuss green insulation options, like denim batt insulation. You can even request that traditional fiberglass batt be installed in the interior walls. While it does not muffle sound as well as expensive sound proofing insulation, it can make a big difference for very little money in new constructions homes.
Can your family do any of the work themselves?
If you are on a budget, one way to save money on a new build is to create what is called "sweat equity." Talk to your custom builder to see if you can take any projects on yourself to save money. Whether you have a licensed electrician in the family or are willing to perform site clean-ups every weekends, it is worth asking.
Will you pay the HOA dues?
If your builder is working in a large, master-planned community, it may be worth it to inquire if they will pay for the HOA dues for the first year. This will save you money at closing as dues are usually paid in advance for the year.
When you want to work with a custom home builder, you know what questions to ask up front.