How to Tell if a Builder is Taking Shortcuts in the Building Process
Imagine you just hired someone to build your dream home. You found a floor plan you mostly like, created a list of must-have features including an open kitchen with a large island, and spent some time with a couple of contractors trying to understand their building process. Finally, you settled on one who seemed genuinely nice and had the lowest bid. Now what?
Slow down. Building your new home is too complex an undertaking to leave anything to chance.
Of course you want to work with people you can trust. But how will you know you’re hiring an honest builder? While many companies are reputable, the reality is some builders are dishonest and take shortcuts. It’s important to do your homework to protect yourself against costly lessons. This guide will tell you about some of the common warning signs and help you know the important questions to ask when you’re searching for an honest home builder.
In this article you’ll learn:
- Why you should care if the builder cuts corners
- Whether you should be allowed in the home during the construction process
- What things a reputable builder won’t ever try to hide from you
DOES THE BUILDER CUT CORNERS?
Cutting corners means doing something in the easiest, quickest, or cheapest way, often harming the quality of work. When a homebuilder cuts corners, they use inferior products or improper building techniques. It’s important to note that many of the critical components of quality construction are things the average person isn’t aware of and may not be able to see.
The building methods and materials your builder uses influences your home’s efficiency, sustainability, and durability. Using premium building products is a short-term decision that can have significant long-term effects.
Dishonest builders may promise and charge you for higher priced materials and then substitute cheaper grade products. Similarly, some builders cut corners in the building process like spacing floor joists wider than needed. Of course, these dishonest practices are more likely to occur in areas of your home you can’t easily see.
Even if you go to the job site every day, you still may never know the builder was taking shortcuts. If you’re not familiar with building practices and are relying on your builder’s guidance, how could you possibly know the products or practices aren’t acceptable? Unfortunately, shortcuts aren’t usually discovered until after the homeowner has been in the home for many years and serious problems start happening.
ARE YOU ALLOWED IN THE HOME DURING THE BUILDING PROCESS?
You have the right to check in on your home’s progress during the construction process. After all, it’s your home! Site visits are especially critical during the initial building phases when the structural features are still exposed. A solid foundation, sturdy walls, and reliable utilities are all crucial components that form the structural and functional integrity of your home.
Also, if you have any doubts about the condition of your home, you can hire an independent inspector to get an objective professional opinion. It’ll cost you more money up front, but it may save you a lot of headaches and money later. Be wary if the builder tries to persuade you from hiring your own inspector: That’s a major warning sign.
THINGS A REPUTABLE BUILDER WON’T HIDE FROM YOU
- References. You want to see references from clients who can attest to the honesty and quality of the builder’s work. Speak to them without the builder present so they’re able to speak freely. Go to the site and see the home for yourself. Also, try to talk to contractors the builder hires and suppliers they purchase products from. You’ll want to know if the builder cuts any corners and if he pays bills on time.
- License and Insurance. You want to see a Contractor’s license and insurance information so you know your home builder is valid to operate in your state.
- Standard of Operation and Communication. How will they handle your project? What’s the communication style? How often will they update you about your home’s progress?
- Materials. Does the builder pick materials for you or expect you to make those choices on your own? What quality of products does the builder install?
- Price, Schedule, and What’s Included. How will you be billed and what’s included? Also, ask if they include allowance pricing and how they handle excavation costs.
- Their Reputation. Check the Better Business Bureau to see the home builders’ ratings and reviews.
- Warranty. Third party warranty companies qualify builders based on their financial strength and construction standards.
ARE THEY TRANSPARENT THE ENTIRE TIME?
Your builder should be your most vocal advocate as they work to achieve your major life goal. It’s your builder’s duty to keep you informed about the status of your home. Poor communication often leaves both parties confused and disappointed with the outcome. Honest builders have nothing to hide and are happy to answer all of your questions from the beginning until well after your home is completed.
Building your dream home is too important to take chances. If you don’t hire a reputable builder, your dream home could become your worst nightmare. You want an honest builder who communicates well, understands your vision, and has an “A+” reputation. By following the above advice, you’re one step closer to finding a reputable builder and getting your dream home.
If you have any questions about the home building process, please contact one of Fine Line Homes’ friendly housing consultants.
To get a firsthand view of the products and processes we use, please visit one of our five conveniently located Design Centers/Model Homes in Harrisburg, Lewisburg, Hazleton, Sayre, and State College. We look forward to meeting you.