Ten Questions to Ask BEFORE Building a Custom Home

At some point in life, most people experience the often gut-wrenching process of buying a home. That first home is usually something modest but the excitement is still palpable because it is a rite of passage.   As life continues, families decide they can afford and desire a custom-built home, with features and amenities that are designed specifically for their lifestyle. This is when the complications really kick in!

The decision to build a custom home can be nerve-wracking even for someone who is a seasoned home owner. Why? This is because there are so many factors to take into consideration when one is designing a home, rather than merely purchasing one that is already built.

If you are considering building your dream home, here are ten questions to ask – both of yourself and your builder – before embarking on this fascinating journey.

1. How big is your family and how long do you plan on living in your new home?

This question requires a little “crystal ball” reading, but it is critical to contemplate before any bricks are laid in your custom home. Family size (now and in the future) will determine such factors as the number of bedrooms and proximity to schools and work. For example, many home buyers are concerned about find a lot that is in the “right” school district for their kids. The number of years you anticipate living in your new custom home is also a part of this first question. Is this going to be the home you spend the rest of your life in or is it possible that your work might force you to sell in a few years?

2. What’s most important for your family? Rank these nine factors. 

Take a minute and think about what is really important for the place you will spend most of your waking and sleeping hours in a day – your home. Rank these nine criteria with the first being most important and the last being least important and then share them with your home builder.

        a. We want plenty of room and amenities for my family

        b. We entertain a lot so having a great place to throw a party is important

        c. A home with the capacity to allow multi-generations (boomerang children and even their children) is something we need

        d. The location of my new home is important for us

        e. Having the builder meet budget and time agreements is critical 

        f. We must have elegance in design

        g. Saving energy with the latest "smart" insulation and energy-saving features

        h. A low maintenance exterior (such as brick or stone) is important for our family

        i. A good return on our investment

3. What construction materials is your dream home composed of?

“Those who can afford to build a custom home have many choices for construction materials,” noted Jay Cox of Acme Brick. “And a homeowner’s personality is reflected in the type of materials they choose. Many custom home buyers prefer the timeless style and durability of brick for their dream home and it’s important for a custom home buyer to ensure that their builder offers options.”

4. What are the criteria for finding a builder who shares your vision?

Even before hiring an architect, it is very important to find a custom home builder who shares your values and vision. The layout and design of a custom home can be developed and fine-tuned using such tools as computer aided design software available from the many talented architects in Denver, but putting together the actual bricks and mortar is not a virtual process. It’s real and it requires hands-on craftsmanship. This requires the home buyer to choose the best builder for his budget and home style preference.

5. What about the most important room in the home – the kitchen?

More and more, dream kitchens are becoming an important part of any custom home. The style and amenities of these kitchens are only limited by the imaginations of the home buyers and builders. Multiple work islands, brick pizza ovens and built-ins galore are all possible in a custom home. Plus, it’s important to consider the fabulous entertainment value of an outside kitchen. “Brick has always been integral to the outside kitchen,” Jay noted. “But more and more, builders are incorporating the charm of brick for such elements as the backsplash in the main (indoor) kitchen. It adds a feeling of stability to the most important room in the house.”  

6. When choosing a lot, check the soil first.

In the state of Colorado in general and Denver specifically, it is important to check the soil to ensure that it is conducive to supporting a home.  According to several custom home builders in the area, not all soil is created equal and building a home on a lot with this inappropriate soil can result in foundation problems such as cracks in the future.  Ask your builder to have a professional geologist examine the lot before building.

7. Builder Question: What was your toughest demand from a client and how did you handle it?

The answer to this question will tell you several things about a builder you are considering. Are they client-focused or merely building homes that they can sell as quickly as possible? Are the owners and managers of the builder attuned to new ideas that you might bring to the project? Are they friendly? The partnership between you and your custom builder must be just that – a partnership.

8. Builder Question: What is your procedure for handling obstacles and delays?

It has been noted that “the best laid plans often go astray.” In the course of building a home, delays and obstacles are going to happen. The most important consideration is HOW the builder deals with these challenges and how they communicate with their clients. Ask about this. It might give you great insights into the quality of builder you are considering.

9. Builder Question: What type of custom home will have the best resale value?

In most cases, families will decide to downsize, or be forced to move due to professional changes. When this happens, the resale value of a dream home becomes the most important criteria for the home owner. “Homes that are constructed of brick have a better resale value than any other construction material,” Jay noted. “There may be a higher investment for using brick when the home is being constructed, but the long-term ROI is much better than wood or stucco.”

10. Builder Question: Can we see one of your homes and talk to a client?

This is the most important question to ask a custom builder. If the builder is proud of his work and has a good reputation for client service, he will have no problem arranging for you to see his completed work. If, on the other hand, he is hesitant about giving references and showing completed projects, this is a bright red flag. Heed it well.

If you are considering building a custom home, let us help you, your architect and your builder with samples of Acme Brick. It will add charm, durability, security and resale value to your dream home. Contact Jay Cox for more information.