Big. Decision. That’s how you’d describe buying a new home for most people, right? You can’t pack a home up and return it to Amazon. You can’t call your credit card company and dispute the charge. Once you buy a new home, it’s yours. And it can be the best decision you ever make!
But how do you make sure? It’s not like you can practice buying homes before the big game. And that’s a fair point. It’s why the whole Realtor industry exists. But as a homebuyer, one needs to be informed, whether or not one has representation. So… How do you make sure that you’re finding the right homebuilder. How do you distinguish the good from the bad, or the great from the ‘just okay’? The following are some ideas to get you started.
How are their reviews on Google, Facebook?
Customers have more of a voice than they used to. Good and bad experiences alike are shared online, and if you’re interested in a company, reviews are a quick search away. Take a moment to look at the reviews, but while you do, consider the source of comments. Sometimes negative reviews can arise from someone who had a bad experience that was outside of a builder’s control, such as a low appraisal or delayed closing. Treat these with a grain of salt and look for reviews, positive and critical, that seem like they have merit.
Are they responsive to their customers?
Social media is a good way to get a feel for a homebuilder, and how responsive they are to the needs of their customers. Are they responding quickly to inquiries? Are they involving the community in their business by asking for feedback? While social media is a new medium for customer interaction and not everyone has embraced it, it’s a helpful measure for how customer focused a builder is.
What is their standing with the Better Business Bureau?
The Better Business Bureau requires a yearly payment for a business to be “accredited”, so not all good businesses will be. But look at the rating. The Better Business Bureau rating factors in the size of the company, number of years in business, number of complaints, and appropriate responses from the company. It looks at how the company honors commitments, and if there are any government actions or advertising issues.
How knowledgeable are the salespeople?
Good builders know they do a good job, and they know why. And they communicate that information to their salespeople, who then communicate it to the customers. A good builder will have good, passionate salespeople, because they believe in the product.
How experienced are the builders?
Do you know how long the superintendent has been with the company? Are they relatively new in construction, or have they been doing it for years? Do they have high turnover or do their superintendents stick around as they develop experience? How many homes have they built? At present, our average superintendent has built over 700 homes and has been with us for 11 years*. Though this is highly unusual, it should give you an idea of what a lot of homebuilding experience looks like.
What’s the reputation of the businesses that actually build the homes?
While the superintendent directs construction, “trade partners” do the actual building. These are independent contractors that do work for the builder that hires them. Since these are the people building the homes, it’s important that they are reputable. So, ask the builder or sales representatives: who does the framing? Who does the plumbing? Where does the concrete come from? Who does the electrical work? Who makes the cabinets? You should be able to find out if the contractors are reputable through a quick online search, and thanks to our new internet-driven marketplace, they will probably have reviews!
How is the job site?
First, building a home is a dirty process. There’s often mud, clay, material waste (cut boards and pipe), drywall mud, and other things that are unsightly while they are going up, but between work, the site should look pretty good. So, when you’re looking at a builder’s job site while trades aren’t working, is it clean and neat, or disorderly and dirty? Cooperation between trades is also good. If you see a home being worked on, do the trades appear to be working together, or are they in each other’s way?
What kind of warranty do they have?
States require a builder provide a warranty with each home. This minimum warranty requirement varies by state. Most reputable builders will go above and beyond this minimum requirement and provide homebuyers with a stronger warranty. An example of a good warranty would be:
- Covered for one year: The home should be free of defects and includes workmanship/materials. Excludes landscaping, drainage, aesthetic items, and homeowner maintenance items.
- Covered for two years: Systems (the delivery portion of heating/cooling, electrical, plumbing)
- Covered for ten years: Major structural defects (Foundation)
Are the appliances and fixtures manufactured by reputable, quality companies with solid warranties?
A new home warranty does not warrant the appliances or fixtures, but just the workmanship of their install. Why? Because those items have their own, manufacturer’s warranty. This includes heating and air units, water heaters, faucets, disposals, ovens, et cetera. So, what’s the reputation of the brands that the builder is using?
These are a LOT of important questions, aren’t they? The good news is that you can take this with you! You may not be able to get all the answers, but they are certainly worth asking!
I hope this has been helpful. Go forth and enjoy your successful home search!
At Keystone, we pride ourselves in being the home-builder you can trust in the Augusta, Aiken, Savannah and Statesboro areas. We have an Online Sales Consultant who available to take your phone calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so that we can make getting your questions answered a priority. We also have on-site neighborhood specialists who can give you the face to face attention you deserve.
If you’re interested in building with Keystone, our Information is available at your fingertips- follow us on social media or visit our website at and contact us to learn more about Keystone and its sister organization Build On Your Land by Keystone.