9 Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Building a Lake Oconee Custom Home
Of all the things to consider when building a house, finding a contractor is chief among them. You need to find a contractor you can trust who’s capable of constructing your Lake Oconee dream home within your budget and timeline restraints. With plenty of contractors to choose from, it can be tough to weed out the right fit for you. But by asking the right contractor questions, you can quickly decide whether a contractor is experienced, capable, and passionate enough to build your home.
1. Are You Licensed and Insured?
This is one of the first questions to ask your builder at the initial meeting. Honestly, if their answer is no — or if they try to skirt around the question — you’re better off leaving right then and there. Working with an unlicensed or uninsured builder puts you at risk. It means liability falls on you in the event of an accident and it also means your project could be shut down if your contractor doesn’t adhere to permits and construction standards. Since there are plenty of licensed and insured builders — like PAXISgroup — for you to choose from, why take the risk? You should also ask what types of insurance they carry. You’ll want to hire someone who has general liability, workers compensation, professional liability, and builders risk.
2. How Do You Handle the Design Process?
We feel that the design and pre-construction process is as important as the building process. Over the years, PAXISgroup has found most time delays and cost overruns can be mitigated substantially through a comprehensive pre-construction services design phase. So, ask your prospective contractor, “Do you have a designer you work with who has a proven track record?” If they do, you’ll avoid surprises in the construction phase. Plus, it’ll allow you to begin customizing your home before groundbreaking.
3. Can I See Your Work?
Once you know a contractor is licensed and insured, it’s time to get to the fun stuff. Ask to see examples of the contractor's previous projects. They should have some photos to show you — perhaps examples of stunning project spotlights on their website — or they may even be able to let you tour a current build or spec home. While you look everything over, ask yourself whether their work demonstrates an ability to do the style of home you want, and be sure to tell the contractor if there’s a particular style or feature that you want to include in your custom home. That way they can show you past projects that are similar to what you want in your new home.
4. How Much Will it Cost to Build My Custom Home?
Once the contractor has a good idea of what you want in a custom home, you should ask how much they think it’ll cost to construct it. Prior to asking this question, identify how much you’re willing to spend — that way you can compare their estimate to your budget. If you’re not sure how to set a budget or want to know more about custom home building, download our free guide!
Once a contractor gives you an estimate there are two follow-up questions you should ask. First ask, “What does your cost estimate include?” Some contractors may only include basic expenses in their estimate, but then tag on extra fees down the line. Next ask, “What additional costs might I have from the construction, home, or development?” and “What is a realistic expectation related to typical change orders on a project like mine?” This will give you a fuller picture of how much you’ll actually end up spending by the time the project has wrapped.
5. How much can I customize my home, what’s included, and what upgrades can I choose from?
What makes a house a home are your personal touches; the little things that you love, which help your life run smoothly and provide everyday luxury. But you’ll only be able to customize your home to the extent of the extra features, customizations, and upgrades your contractor offers. So ask your builder what features, finishes, and other elements are included in the base price of their homes. Then, ask to see what upgrades they offer and see what the selection process looks like. Working directly with a selection coordinator that has experience in your home will allow you to make choices that meet your stylistic needs while fitting within budget constraints.
6. How Long Will My Project Take?
Planning your life around the construction of a custom home can get complicated, especially if the timeline keeps moving around. While any project may have delays or complications, you should ask your contractor to provide you with a detailed project timeline. Understanding the entire lifecycle of a project from design through move-in should be something a builder can walk you through. The timeline will be a crucial resource as you plan your future. Plus, it allows you to assess the contractor’s plan and make sure it’s up to your standards.
While you’re at it, ask what complications might arise when building a lakefront home. The construction of custom lake homes poses some unique challenges, including potential flooding, unstable ground, and other water-related issues. Your contractor should be able to address specific complications and how they would handle them if an issue arises.
7. What is Your Warranty?
Before you sign a contract, you should also ask what kind of warranty your potential contractor offers. Contractor warranties may apply to plumbing, concrete flooring, windows, air conditioning, heating, electrical work, and other permanent home fixtures. However, the length of the warranty depends on each contractor and each individual feature. You can get a better understanding by asking for an example of builder guidelines that the contractor uses to manage their trade partners. This should give you a clear understanding of what is considered the industry standard and homeowner maintenance for the future.
While it may not be the first question you think to ask, it’s an important question to ask a home builder. No one wants to have a newly-constructed custom lake home with a defect you can’t get fixed!
8. Who Will My Point of Contact Be?
Lake home construction can be a complicated process, so you’ll want to have a go-to person you can direct questions or voice your concerns to, as well as an integrated platform that the design-builder uses throughout the entire design and construction process. Working with a design-builder helps simplify the communication process, but no matter who your contractor is they should provide you with a point of contact.
9. What sets you apart from other builders?
You want your custom home to perfect — everything you’ve ever dreamed of — and your builder should want that too. They should be excited about your project and passionate about building you a home that fits your personality and lifestyle. Of all the homebuilder questions, this one gives contractors an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competition, to talk about their passion and why they work in the home building industry. Ask what their core values are and how they relate to how they do business on a daily basis. We recommend picking a contractor whose personality and story resonate with you — it’ll make for a more satisfying homebuilding experience!
Want to try these questions out on a Georgia-based custom home design-builder? Contact PAXISgroup. We’re expert lakefront home builders and we’ll take the time to answer any and all questions you throw at us! Keep in mind, PAXISgroup isn’t just in the business of building homes, we’re in the business of building lifestyles.