Questions to Ask Your Builder

What quality control measures are in place during the building process?

Using high-quality products is important, but it is no substitute for enforcing quality control measures during the construction process. Make sure your homebuilder has established quality control measures with specific inspections throughout the process to ensure your investment is protected.

We have an onsite supervisor on the job at all times with a checklist and planned inspections for every phase of the construction.

Who will oversee the construction of my home?

A project manager should oversee the construction of your home on a daily basis. The project manager’s expertise has a big impact on the overall quality of your home’s construction. However, some homebuilders use the project manager position as part of the training process for new hires climbing the ranks of the company. Ask about qualifications of the person supervising the construction of your home.

We are a small hands-on company and are on-site at all times.

Do you have a dedicated, in-house service and warranty department?

After closing, who will you call if you have a problem? Will you be able to call a service professional directly – or is there an answering service? Will the homebuilder’s own employees respond to a service call – or a sub-contracted company who reputation is not invested in your home? New home construction warranties very little in the extent of coverage, but vary greatly in their execution.

You will call us directly. All of our clients have our cell numbers and we will execute whatever action is necessary.

What is your track record on warranty issues?

Can the homebuilder cite examples of how they handled maintenance issues that were technically not covered by the home warranty but should have been their responsibility? A homebuilder that cares about their reputation for customer service will go above and beyond what is required by the home warranty to rectify a construction problem. Ask for testimonials or referrals regarding their handling of maintenance issues outside of warranty coverage.

Our clients whose homes we built ten years ago call us for advice and references when it comes to repairs and maintenance.

What are my options for personalizing my home?

To cut costs, many production homebuilders will reduce the number of design and structural choices available to you. Are design selections updated to reflect popular styles and technologies? Explore your options to make sure the homebuilder offers a wide variety of options that you like.

With Sound Home Builders, your options are unlimited. During the design process, we discuss value engineering and educate you about costs.

What is the process for choosing design selections?

Will you make your selections based on sample boards stored in the model home or will you have access to a large showroom with a variety of examples? Will you choose from photographs or will you be able to see and touch your choices? Will you get personalized attention or will you have to share your time with other customers?

We have a selection program and a team of vendors to assist you with the selection process.

How is the crawl space finished?

Local building code requires a vapor barrier in the crawl space. Some homebuilders install the vapor barrier at the end of construction – right on top of construction debris and with little to secure it. A better method involves laying the vapor barrier prior to framing and securing it with a layer of gravel. This keeps the crawl space clean and protects the vapor barrier from construction debris.

We finish the crawl space to code with an option to upgrade to a conditioned crawlspace.

How do you treat the house for termites?

During the building process, many builders treat the soil and lumber for termites with poison. But the poison can be dangerous to humans; in fact, the building site usually must be evacuated after the poison is applied. A better alternative is to treat the frame with a natural chemical substance called Borate, which is toxic to termites but completely safe for humans and animals.

That is what we use in treating the wood.

How do you ensure long-term pest control?

An effective method for ongoing pest control is Taexx, a series of narrow, perforated tubes that are inserted into the framing near the foundation during construction. Also known as tubes-in-the-wall, this system allows a technician to spray pesticides behind the wall away from pets and children without having to enter your home.

The company that applies the initial termite treatment offers homeowners annual inspections and coverage for a fee of less than $200 a year.

Do you use dimensional lumber or engineered flooring for all of your flooring systems?

Many homebuilders use both engineered and dimensional lumber flooring systems. Dimensional lumber flooring systems are more likely to crown, shrink or squeak. Engineered flooring systems are multiple-ply planks, which do not change shape or split, limiting squeaks and improving stability.

We use an engineered flooring system. The entire framing package is designed with the assistance of an engineer. This assures us that each home we build is structurally sound from top to bottom.

How close do you space studs when framing walls?

Spacing studs 16 inches apart provides stability, reduces warped walls and limits nail pops. In some non-load bearing walls, homebuilders will space studs 26 inches apart to cut down on their lumber costs.

We frame 16-inches on center throughout.

Are the windows single-hung or double-hung?

Single-hung windows have a stationary upper sash and a movable lower sash. However, both sashes are movable in double-hung windows, improving ventilation and making cleaning much easier. While many homebuilders install single-hung windows to cut costs, double-hung windows offer greater convenience and quality.

We use double hung Pella, Eagle or Jeldwen windows. Our clients make the final selection.

What type of structured wiring do you offer?

Will your homebuilder test and warranty structured wiring cables? Every cable should be tested and guaranteed in your home prior to purchase. If structured wiring is not installed and tested properly, its performance can be dramatically reduced. Make sure both the homebuilder and the manufacturer guarantee that your structured wiring will always perform to the required standards.

We work with a company who does that specific part of the wiring. They meet with you to explain the different options and costs. The client makes the final decision.

Are your homes wired for the future?

Homes that use structured wiring networks to manage energy efficiency are just around the corner. Does the homebuilder build in an accessible and expandable network box to store all of the structured wiring? Does the homebuilder install conduit from the box to make future growth easy? A home with these features will be especially desirable tin the future when it comes time to sell.

Yes, (same as above)

Does the third floor have its own HVAC system?

When some homebuilders finish a third floor, they often “piggyback” the ducts off the HVAC unit dedicated to the second floor. With the thermostat on the second floor, the third floor will always be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. If you decide to finish a third floor, make sure your homebuilder adds a third zone and thermostat.

Our HVAC installer performs a Manual J check and sizes all equipment accordingly. In addition, we build our homes to Energy Star standards so that this process verifies the size of the HVAC system specified.

What brand and grade of paint to you use?

Standard builder-grade paint is, well, less than standard. Many homebuilders that use standard builder-grade paint will not touch up painted walls after performing warranty repairs because the paint varies so much in consistency that it will not match. Look for a homebuilder that applies a final coat of high-quality paint with a roller, which provides a thicker, smoother surface. Also, ask if they will guarantee to touch up paint that will match the walls after performing warranty work.

The brand of paint we use is Sherwin Williams. We use a High Build Primer surfacer.

Promar 200 on the walls – the final coat is rolled on

Promer 400 on the ceilings

Super paint is used for the exterior

Do you use poly fibers in all of your concrete?

Poly-fiber reinforced concrete helps to control cracks and dramatically increases the strength of concrete slabs.

We use fiber reinforced concrete for driveways and slabs.

Are your fireplaces vented to the exterior of the house?

Some homebuilders install non-vented gas fireplaces – yet another cost-saving method to watch out for. Non-vented fireplaces require leaving a window open slightly during operation to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Doesn’t that make the extra cost of a vented fireplace sound worthwhile?

We only use vented fireplaces.