In late April I started a series on choosing your new home builder. How do I choose a New Home Builder? First in a series. We had some fun discussing questions that a consumer can ask to try and differentiate between the trustworthy home builders and those that fall into possible problems.
Today I move to QUALITY of CONSTRUCTION.
First let me say that some of the best posts over at Home Builders of America (Active Rain Group) have been by member David Britt. He has posted numerous times on specific quality of construction issues: Wood, Metal or Vinyl? and Building a New Home: Tankless Water Heaters and Building a New Home: Hottest Trend
David, thanks for the very detailed posts, you are really becoming the group leader for our niche.
But my specialty is really not the sticks and bricks, or concrete and mortar, my specific QUALITY of CONSTRUCTION specialty is all about communication. Most every home builder in the United States uses the same type of concrete, same type of cabinets, same type of lumber, same type of roof shingles. We buy from the same suppliers, we build using the same kinds of labor ... we are all very very similar in our sticks, bricks, and labor.
So what really makes QUALITY? And, how do you know if the home builder you are talking to about your dream home is really committed?
Theory: Quality of Construction is less about the sticks and the bricks, and more about the methods of communication by and between the hew home builder and the new home buyer.
Some practical measurements:
- Does your new home builder pay for and give you a 10 year new home warranty, insured by an outside entity?
- Does your new home builder give you a new home maintenance manual, one that outlines the distinct and measurable differences between your responsibilities as new home buyer, and the builder's responsibilities for warranty. This is the key battle ground, the key place that home buyers and home builders come to blows!
When I read posts here on Active Rain, or on outside blogs, by new home buyers that are mad at their new home builder, almost without exception the key battle is over who is responsible for common problems. For example:
- Who is responsible for settling soils in yard? First year? Year five? Year ten?
- Who is responsible for trees that die?
- Who is responsible for repainting a wall when a nail pop occurs?
- Who is responsible for concrete small cracks? Large cracks? What's the difference?
- Who is responsible for creaks in floors?
- Who is responsible for siding that buckles or even dislodges?
- And 100's more questions like this.
Now for the record, there is no "right" answer to these questions. If the home builder doesn't know the answers, assume that the home buyer is responsible and factor that into your decision. Assuming that the home builder will take care of things is like assuming that a parachute will function before jumping.
Our own company has labored to nail down these fine distinctions between buyer and builder. It is not easy, and our current manual is in excess of 200 pages of details. Still we have communication problems, still we struggle to make sure that our word is our bond.
If you are talking to a home builder that hasn't even started this process, quality is not a focus. If you are talking to a home builder who suggests that you are responsible for your own maintenance, quality is a focus but you now know the lines of responsibility. You may disagree, but you know, that's the key. Choose wisely.