You can’t see Quality……warning I might offend you,
I have model homes for people to walk through and people always say the same thing. I want to walk through your model to get a feel for the Quality of your houses. Your an idiot, and you just told me how to best sell you a piece of junk. (see I warned you for way more money then it is worth)
The biggest builders around the country all learned a long time ago that to “sell” to people you need to build a really cheap house with as much high end looking finishes in it as you can and sell it for less money than it appears to be worth. Why? Because people are idiots…..(see I did it again) In no other industry is this as possible as it is home building. If Mercedes cars were really junk the world would know it. Because they are an international brand and the buying public has resources to find this information out. Sadly these resources don’t exist for home builders. I visited a number of very high end houses this past weekend in a regional parade of homes where builders opened up houses they had built for the public to walk through. All of them were very high end homes with lots of beautiful features. Most of them were exceptionally well built. A few were gorgeous and junk. Picture a 4 bathroom house with all the cosmetic upgrades you could dream about, vaulted pine ceilings with a 20′ high stone fireplace, hardwood floors and granite counter tops and enough hot water to take two showers before waiting an hour. You could see daylight in areas you would never want to (around the fire box) and not in areas where you need to (the soffits were stuffed full of insulation, yes that roof will leak this winter but they will have some awesome looking icicles).
The point is this, quality is behind the walls, under the floor, up in the attic and somewhere under the foundation, it is not in the quality of kitchen faucet and the amazing appliance package. Buyers need to dig deeper. They need to find out what people who have lived in this builder’s homes for a number of years think. Most workmanship (quality) flaws do not expose themselves until long after the warranty has expired. On the front side learn to ask the right questions. I threw together a list. Not all of them apply to all houses but it is a good way to show your builder your smarter then their average buyer and the way they answer them will help you get a sense as to what is important to them as a builder. If they have no idea what you are talking about or how to answer your questions….move on.
Do you guarantee your contract pricing with no chance of added cost later for things you were not aware of?
Can I get a release of lien from all Sub-Contractors and Suppliers prior to final payment?
How do you adjust for out of level foundations? (All of them are a bit out, the answer is we shim our sill plates before we build on them and seal around the shims.)
How do you assure I will never have water in my Basement? (There is no seal that works the answer has to be we give it a easier place to go with proper drainage or a pump)
How do you make sure I don’t have icicles on the edge of my roof? ( The answer is proper ventilation)
How do you seal around you windows? (Fiberglass is still ok if it is done right but foam is a much better answer)
What is the average air changes per 24 hours of your new homes.? (the answer must be below 7 that is code minimum and under 4 for Energy Star)
Does your Heating Sub-Contractor have 24 hour service number? (a owner operator company can be cheaper and do a good job but when your heat goes out and it is minus 20 out you will want a timely response)
What compaction rate do you get under your foundations? (the answer is it should be put on virgin ground or compacted to 95%)
These are just idea I could go on for hours, the point is if you ask intelligent questions that show you understand that real quality is much deeper then what you can see you will get a good sense of the contractors focus on the details.
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