6 Questions to Ask Your Builder Before Building Your Custom Home

When it comes to building, no two builders are the same, which is why you should be prepared with questions to ask your builder as you begin the process of designing and building your dream home.

A custom home is your opportunity to create a place that is truly yours, uniquely designed to suit your lifestyle, personality, and family in a way no pre-built home ever could. This is why it’s vitally important that homebuyers pick a builder they are comfortable and confident in.

The home-building experience is both exciting and stressful to undertake. Homebuyers often feel that stress keenly with builders who are not on the same wavelength during the design/build process. But when you find the right builder, that stress is minimized significantly so that only the excitement shines through as you see it all come together.

How do you know when you’ve found the right builders for your custom home? By taking the time to “interview” the builder by asking questions. No doubt, the answers will blossom into full-fledged discussions that will reveal if you have found the right builders and grow your confidence that you’ve found the custom builder who’s the right fit for you.

Here are six questions to ask your builder so you can find the perfect match for building your custom home.


1) What is the cost of building a home in my area?

Home construction costs are defined by four factors:

  • Location of lot and site condition: Prices of lots vary from township to township around the greater Pittsburgh area. Additionally, the condition of the lot will affect construction cost such as if the site is located near a wetland or is rocky and additional excavation is needed.
  • Home design: The style of home you wish to build, and the square footage are two factors that will dictate the cost of your home.
  • Materials and selections: We’ve all seen the news that lumber prices have risen significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but all of the materials you wish to have in your newly built home—from flooring and tile to kitchen cabinets and master bathroom features—will all factor into the cost of your home.
  • Project schedule: Tighter timeframes or delays from changing the design (once finalized) will affect the cost of construction.

Keep in mind, however, that building a custom home is priced differently than building a neighborhood home or a spec home.  

2) What is your experience level as a builder?

Ask your builder team how long they have been in the business. Many builders have been constructing homes for decades, while others are relatively new on the scene. What truly matters beyond the years of experience in the construction and design expertise available and how satisfied customers were with previous projects.

Ask to see a gallery of homes that your builders have built in the past to get a feel for their style and quality level. You can also ask for referrals so you may interview past custom home buyers on their experience. 

3) Can you also design my home?

Many custom home builders offer a unique design-build experience, which means they can custom design your home from the ground up.

There are many advantages to designing and building with the same custom home team. The first is that your vision will be realized from beginning to end. The next is that the entire process, from blueprints to construction, will be streamlined internally without the need to hire additional services and experts to aid in the design and plan approval process. And lastly, the builder will be able to help you design a home and select the materials that fit into your budget. There’s nothing worse than having plans for a home that you love only to find out that it’s not within your budget

4) What is your construction timeline? How long will the building process take?

From design to completion, the custom home process can take anywhere between 6 months and 12 months. On average, you can expect a medium-sized custom home construction to take about a year to complete from foundation to finish. Larger homes may take longer to complete.

Another variable in the construction timeline is how long it takes for materials to be shipped. Specialty tiles, custom cabinets, appliances, windows, and even your bathtub can take as little as a few weeks to as long as 4-5 months to arrive on site.

Always ask for an outlined construction timeline. Look for a builder who can give you a concrete answer and break down how the timeline works section-by-section. 


5) Is the lot cost included?

Whether your lot cost is included depends on your builders and home construction circumstance. In many cases, custom homebuyers first buy the lot, then hire their contractors to build the house. However, if your builders are also neighborhood property developers, they may offer the lot price along with the home price as a package deal – because they already own the lot. 

6) How do you determine the budget for the project?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask and feel comfortable with your builder’s approach. Your budget will be determined by a wide variety of factors – factors that your custom builder can break down for you to see. This process will help you understand what may cause any off-plan expenses.

It’s no secret that your home is one of the most important investments you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s a place where you can retreat, relax and recover from the stress of work and day-to-day life.

So why not build the perfect space?

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