The idea of building your own home probably has you dreaming of cabinetry details and window treatments at night. But the stuff of dreams can become a total nightmare when your homebuilder can’t execute on their promises. What’s more, a lack of customization might leave you wanting more.

A builder’s prerogative is to woo you with model homes, glowing reviews, and even upgrades. But, before you sign any contract, make sure you ask these crucial questions. Outlining your expectations ahead of time can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

How much can I customize?

One of the appeals of building versus buying is getting exactly what you want. But some builders keep costs in line by offering a set number of floorplans and finishes, allowing for just a few cosmetic tweaks along the way. If you’re planning on a custom job, ask the builder if customization is limited to cosmetic choices alone. Some builders allow more extensive customization, like changing floorplans, upgrading finishes, or even designing a home from scratch.

Is your model home upgraded (and what comes standard)?

It’s easy to fall in love with that perfectly-staged model home. Don’t sign on the dotted line until you get a clear answer of which features in the model home have been upgraded. Builders want to show off their best work, so some model homes might have upgraded cabinetry, appliances, and even lighting packages that aren’t included in the base price of the floorplan.

Can I have a few references?

If you want to know everything about a builder’s process, get a few references from homeowners who have recently purchased their houses. With fresh memories, past clients can give you a better idea of how well the builder stuck to timelines, any frustrations, and even a list of dos and don’ts with a particular builder. If a builder is reluctant to give references, it might be a red flag that homeowners aren’t always happy with the finished product.

What’s your usual timeline?

Coastal Home

Building isn’t an exact science. Weather delays, issues getting materials, and dealing with contractors can all throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans. Still, a reputable builder should have a general idea of how long your home would take to build and what the general timeline would look like. From foundation to framing and walls to paint, you should know what’s happening every step of the way. A good builder will be able to give you a fairly solid move-in date.

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