The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors

Consumer Information

What You Need to Know Before Selecting Your New Home Builder
Don't be afraid—ask! You're making one of the most important decisions of your life and you deserve answers to your questions.

1. Experience Questions:
How long has the builder been building homes? How did he learn the business, who did he work with or for? How many homes does he build a year, on average? How long has he been building in the area you've selected?

2. Client References:
Ask for permission to contact two or three previous buyers; a spec buyer and a presale buyer may give you two different viewpoints. Also ask for a list of addresses of several more homes he has built—a new home, one at least two years old, and one five years old if possible, to allow you to view the exterior of these homes.

3. Expertise Questions:
How long does he take to build a home, on average? Which jobs does he subcontract, which does he perform himself? Are there jobs he is qualified to do, but elects to subcontract? How does he select, supervise, and compensate his subcontractors? What is his average inspection performance (passes 25% on first inspection? 50%?)

4. Professionalism Questions:
What is his general contractors license number and what level of license does he hold? Is he a member of the local Home Builders Association, the Board of Realtors or any other local professional trade organization? Does he belong to any local business or civic organizations?

5. Financial Questions:
How is his credit rating? Ask for specific references. Which lending institution provides his construction loans? Will he arrange to purchase the lot and construct the home on his credit line or will you be expected to facilitate financing?

6. Process Questions:
How often will you meet with the builder during the construction stage? What decisions will he make, which will be referred to you? How does he prefer to communicate with you—phone calls, on-site visits, notes? Who else in his organization can give you information about progress? Can you reach him during the day, and are you willing to accept calls at work from him?

7. Service Questions:
When will the walk-through be scheduled, who will attend, and what information will be covered? How many items were on the punch list of the last home he finished? How long did it take to complete those items? Who will have access to your home to make punch list repairs after you move in, how much notice is given?

8. Warranty Questions:
Does he participate in a group warranty program or offer his own? Have there ever been any warranty claims filed on a home he built? Will you receive complete warranty information in writing?

9. Ten Tips When Hiring A Licensed Contractor Brochure

These are the basic questions you should ask regardless of the size, type, style or price of home you are considering—whether you plan to build a custom home or buy a completed new home. Obviously, many more questions will come to mind that relate to the specific home you desire; just don't allow the excitement of discussing your new home to overshadow the importance of getting straightforward answers to these basic questions.

Reprinted courtesy of Triangle's New Home Builder