Good builders. Bad builders. How can you tell? The Home Inspector Lady gives top tips and hints for vetting your prospective builder, keeping the relationship solid and what to do to try and salvage a bad situation.
My hubby, Rob, is a smart guy. (He’s also handsome. And a pretty darn good designer. He’s a GREAT gardener. But I digress.)
Back to my original point. With 25+ years in the construction industry, 18 of those years in building/home inspection, he has loads of experience with home builders. He’s seen them come and go, and he has a very wise saying: Every home builder has to go back and fix things after the sale. EVERY home builder. It’s referred to as “Warranty Work”. The difference between a good home builder and a bad home builder is how well they deal with the warranty work.
The best way to know how well your builder handles the warranty work, is to talk to his other clients. Ask for a list of people who have lived in their homes for at least a year and see what they have to say. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau, but when you do, don’t just look at the rating. See if any reviews have been submitted and read them, remembering to be objective. Social media is another way to go, but remember that this can be manipulated by former employees, professional rivals and even ex husbands and ex wives. Angie’s List is another good source that allows companies to respond to any reviews that are posted.
If you’re considering buying a newly constructed home, please don’t delude yourself. There will be things that the builder has to come back and fix. There will. We work with some of the best home builders in the Lubbock area and they all have to do warranty work. They tell me that among the most commonly reported items are doors that don’t latch and roof leaks. Just because things like this come up, don’t panic. It is very common and it does not mean that you bought a money pit.
While things like roof leaks do need to be taken care of immediately, give your builder a reasonable amount of time to get to the less vital items, since they likely have warranty work to perform on every house they build. In fact, a good strategy would be to keep a list of items that need to be addressed and make an appointment to meet with your builder at your home after you have been there for six months. Then, before the meeting is over, schedule another appointment in four to five months so any other items that come up can be taken care of before your one year warranty is out.
If you’re reading this a little too late and things have made a turn for the worse with your builder, the best thing to do in the immediate future is to stop the bleeding. If things have gotten heated or contentious, see if you can deal with someone else in the organization. If that’s not an option, try the sympathetic approach. Let your builder know that you understand the pressure and hectic schedule of the home building industry. Remind him that it is also stressful to make the biggest investment of your life in a home and that you know that both of you want the same thing: a good working relationship and an acceptable resolution.
If it’s too far gone for any of that, I highly recommend a professional mediator. In these situations, litigation is often a no win situation, as home buyers rarely recover anything and both sides end up with legal bills. I would urge you to leave legal action as a last resort in a situation that can’t get any worse. But, of course, every situation is unique and you should use your own best judgement.
And also… Don’t skip the home inspection! Even on new construction. You’d be genuinely surprised at the items we find on a home inspection on new construction. Many times these are things that you don’t want to discover when you’re moving in (no hot water at the master bathroom shower, air conditioner isn’t working… we’ve even found a slab leak at a new construction inspection!)
It can also be extremely helpful to have your home inspector perform another inspection a month or two before the end of your warranty. He or she will produce a report that is very thorough, has photos and can be passed on to your builder for the final warranty work session.
Thanks again for stopping by! As always, Pin, Like and Share on your social media platform of choice. I’d love to have your feedback, questions and/or comments in the form below. Have a great day, and I wish you a safe and happy home!