3 Important Ways to Vet a Builder Before Buying New Construction

by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 5, 2021

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Two people meeting with a contractor and discussing plans at the kitchen counter.

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Looking to buy a brand-new home? Here are some important tips to help make sure you've chosen the right builder to work with.

When my husband and I had the opportunity to purchase a new construction home a little over 10 years ago, we were excited at the idea of getting to customize a place of our own. And while we did ask a lot of questions and do some research on our builder, ultimately, we didn't have a great experience working with him.

The reason? Our builder was terrible at communicating, and he didn't do a good job at all of sticking to the construction schedule he presented to us initially.

If you're in the market for a newly built home, it's important that you look at not just the price of that property and the mortgage it will require you to take out, but also the builder. Here are a few ways you can go about vetting a builder.

1. Look at finished properties in person

When we first met with our builder at the site of our new home, he showed us different photos of the homes he'd constructed. But that wasn't enough for us. We wanted to see an actual finished product.

Thankfully, there was a completed home in our development whose owner was willing to have us come take a look. Seeing that work gave us confidence that the builder would put together a nice finished product.

And to be clear, our builder did build us a nice house. The process of getting it done, however, was less than pleasant.

2. Talk to people who have used the builder before

When my husband and I went to look at that completed home in our development, we were grateful that its owner was kind enough to let us invade his property for an hour to poke around. We didn't want to put him out further by asking for his number to discuss what the building process was like.

That was a mistake. Had we done so, we probably would've learned that he experienced several months' worth of delays in getting into his finished home. And that would've possibly dissuaded us from moving forward with a contract.

In fact, in the course of our build, our closing was delayed five months. That put us in a situation where we had to rent a temporary apartment and bear the expense of putting our belongings in storage for almost half a year.

3. Ask local real estate agents what they know

The real estate agent we worked with to buy a home wasn't at all familiar with our builder. But we shouldn't have just accepted that and moved on. Instead, we should've sought out other agents or asked our agent to reach out to other agents to see what intel they could provide.

Once we got deep into the construction process and had already signed a contact, we saw that delays would be inevitable. Only then did our real estate agent do some digging and find out from a colleague that our builder was known for construction delays. That was a huge blow, and one we could've perhaps avoided had we done better research.

Buying new construction is a big undertaking, and it can be a stressful process. It's important to make sure you're working with a reliable builder -- one who keeps promises and is good at staying in touch. If you're thinking of purchasing a newly built home, get as much information on your builder as you can before signing a contract so you don't regret your decision afterward.

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