If you haven’t heard there is a housing shortage out there. Availability of existing homes is at an all-time low while prices are at a high which makes building new an increasingly desirable option for many families.
Not that it wasn’t pretty tempting already.
Building new offers a lot of benefits. These include the ability to customize the space to meet the needs of you and your family, greater efficiency (thanks in part to improved building codes) and less short-term maintenance.
A well-built, well-constructed home should serve you well into the future – if it’s done right. But how do you know if that portfolio of pretty homes will hold up for the long haul? There are several things you’ll want to know when building a house and often the best way to get the information you are looking for is with a little detective work.
I have some clever tips to get inside the head of the builder and his or her team.
Is the job site clean?
Go to a current job site at the end of the day and take a peek at the team’s work habits. Has trash been placed in the dumpsters? Does there appear to be order to the site? The job site is a reflection of the builder. A messy construction site can indicate patterns that will carry over into the final product. However, do keep in mind a construction site is a work environment so there will be a level of mess especially while work is going on.
Follow up: Ask your builder or contractor how you can expect to find the site at that end of the day. Many builders have site cleanup policies in place that they would be happy to share.
Do workers take safety precautions?
Are they wearing hard hats and safety goggles? Are they licensed and following best practices for operating equipment? Not only is cutting corners in safety practices dangerous it can be indicative of cutting corners elsewhere. Whether it’s taking the time to grab eye protection or letting the adhesive set completely, in construction details matter.
Follow up: Concerned about safety habits? Ask your builder about his or her onsite safety records.
What’s in the dumpster?
I’m not suggesting diving in but it can be highly informative to take a quick look. Are whole sheets of drywall being scrapped? Bundles of shingles pitched? Some waste is to be expected on any site but you want a builder that is focused on minimizing waste. Not only is it the environmentally responsible thing to do, it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Follow up: If you do see what appears to be high levels of materials being trashed ask the builder about his or her waste management policies. It could be an isolated incident or it could be indicative of a larger issue.
Does the builder have existing trade relationships?
Once the house is complete you’ll have little recourse to correct mistakes made. Working with someone you can trust is important and you need to be able to extend that trust to all the people working on the project. Unless you plan on subcontracting the entire job yourself, it can be hard for you to establish these relationships. That is why it is important to work with a builder that has done the relationship building for you.
No one person can complete a job as complex and diverse as building a home by him or herself. So ask who they will be bringing on to help. Don’t be afraid to get specific. Find out how long they have been working together and the level of knowledge and experience of each of these contractors. This is especially important for mechanical and insulation contractors because these systems are often hidden in the walls. Yet, if done right they can last the lifetime of the home.
Follow up: Are these contractors credentialed or trained in the products they will be installing? Many manufacturers, CertainTeed included, offer complimentary training to contractors to make sure their product is installed properly.
Building a home is exciting and terrifying all at once. Finding a builder you can trust will help you relax on the big stuff so you can focus on whether you want to upgrade those cabinets or splurge on that deck.
Need help finding properly-trained professionals for your next project? We’ve got you covered.
Lucas Hamilton is a leading expert in the field of the forensic building envelope diagnostics and Manager of Building Science Applications for CertainTeed.