Choosing the right builder for your dream log home is one of the most important decisions you'll make. Asking the right questions to evaluate a prospective builder is part of your due diligence before you sign on the dotted line.
Here's a sample list of questions.
Do you have a valid builders licensed and are properly insured? Also, do you request proof of liability insurance/workman's comp from your sub-contractors? Request a copy of the builders license during the interview so you can check the status with the state and note that you'll expect proof of liability and/or workman's comp insurance policies at the time the contract is signed.
Are you currently building a home, if so what type of home is it. if not, when was your last custom home project? Gives you an idea how active the builder is and if he's in demand.It's also a good idea to visit the builders current project and meet the homeowner.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been sued by a homeowner, subcontractor or supplier or operated under a different company name? The answers to these questions should give you enough information to make an early quick decision.
What format is your construction contract, fixed price, cost plus percentage, fixed price plus fee, etc. There are several contract formats and each have advantages and disadvantages depending on the project. Ask the builder what contract format he plans to use so you understand the basis of the proposal and how the project accounting will be managed. If you plan to comparison shop builders, It will be important that each contract format is the same.
Have you built a log home, if so how many log homes have you built in the last 10 years? If the builder hasn't built a log home before, do you really want to be his first? Building a solid log home is much different than a stick-built home. Experience does matter, trust us on this one.
Typically how many projects do you have going at the same time? The response will give you the next question, how do you manage more than one project and how often will you be at my project during the week?
What log home manufacturers products have you built? Each manufacturer has their own specific building system and techniques. An experienced log home builder should have no trouble building any log home package. So your questioning should reveal the depth of experience building log homes.
What are the roles performed by individuals in your company? You'll want to understand who you'll be working with (specific names and titles) during your project. Also gives you an idea if your "builder" is doing the work or is sub-contracting it to others and acting as the general contractor.
Can you supply me with a list of sub-contractors that you'll use on my project? Contact them to ask for references about the log home builder-general contractor.
Can you provide me a list of client referrals with their address and contract information? Develop a list of questions to ask and contact each client on the list. Ask to visit their home for a closer look. This will be a valuable experience for you to see the craftsmanship first hand and learn what the clients have to say about their experience with the builder.
What is your building schedule for the next 18 months? This allows you to compare your timetable based on the builders availability.
I'd like to do some of the work myself (sweat equity), list the items. Are you flexible for me to participate in those areas? If you plan to do some of the work yourself, make sure the builder is willing and flexible. Review these areas with your builder and make sure you have the time and skill to complete those sweat equity items. Plus have each item spelled out and incorporated into the contract.
If you're the builder of record, how do you plan to communicate with me (methods and frequency) during the project? If you live far away, effective communication is the key to any successful project. Is your builder of choice fluent in the use of email, photos/video updates, Skype for conference calls, etc. to keep you informed?
Do you have heavy equipment to unload the log package and other deliveries? The builder will need an articulating fork-truck to unload your log home package and other material deliveries.
How have you handle issues or disputes with homeowners? This may give you insight into how the builder handles himself during these stressful points during the project. Make sure you ask for specific examples, plus develop a few scenarios to ask.
Do you see any potential challenges with my log home design and construction? If you have an elaborate design with several roof planes, lots of inside and outside corners, etc. allow the builder to review in detail those construction challenges with you. This will give you a better understanding of what your builder considers challenges so you can be aware during those construction phases.
Take Away Tips:
During the builder interviews, its a good idea
to take good notes of each response. These notes will come in handy when it's time to make your decision. Invest the time to visit and chat with client references and don't be afraid to ask them pointed questions about the builder and their experience. Verify the builders license with the state. Many states have online sites (Michigan:
) that you can do the look-up to check for the builders license status and if any enforcement actions have been taken. Happy interviewing!
By The Leelanau Log Home Company LLC
Copyright 2012 Under the Influence of Wood Blog