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NOTE: This is a two-part series. Click here to read part 1. You can also download our complete Guide to High-Performance Home-building.
You’ve spent hours tearing out pages of homes magazines and pouring over plans. You’re ready to build your custom dream home. It’s a huge investment of your money and time.
The question remains: Who is going to build it? To help with your selection, we’ve put together 10 questions for you to ask potential home builders. We went over the first 5 questions in Questions to Ask Your Builder – Part 1 of this 2-part series.
Below are the next 5 essential questions to include in your interviews:
There are many different types of residential construction. Home builders that specialize in building larger luxury homes may be overpriced if your dream home is a small cottage. On the other hand, if you have a builder that only builds smaller homes or specializes in interior renovations, they may be over their head with a large home. This mismatch may mean headaches for you down the road.
In addition, the custom home builder you are considering should have a portfolio of recent projects. Ask to see some floor plans, as well as both interior and exterior photos of the project, both in progress and at completion.
Clarum Homes has been building exceptional new custom homes in Northern California since 1994. We have built over 1,000 eye-pleasing, high-performance homes in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Stanford, and other areas in Northern California. Our team has completed houses that fall into a variety of architectural styles and sizes.
Some home builders will try to cut costs by offering only select “cookie-cutter” designs and limited choices for personalization. While this approach may save you money, it greatly limits your options. If you want flexibility , be sure you select a custom home builder that offers you options to customize your architectural styles, footprint, and finishings.
The Clarum Homes team will work closely with you to build the custom homes of your dreams regardless of the style or finishings. Our area of specialization is high-performance, energy efficient houses and passive homes.
This is an important question. You are investing in a structure in which you will be spending great periods of time. In our opinion, it’s crucial that the air that you are breathing in your home is of the highest quality possible.
Most construction today is rife with chemicals and toxins that pollute our indoor air quality and negatively impact our short- and long-term health. Immediate effects of exposure to indoor pollutants include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal.
If you want a healthy, eco-friendly home, make that clear from the moment you first interview a home builder. Clearly describe what you want in your new home. Ask if any of the crew has received green building training or certification. If you wait until too long to bring up your green wish list, some options may be off the table.
If you are interested in a healthy home, but a builder has no interest or expertise in building green, you will be the one who has to provide exact specifications for materials, products, and even building methods. Then, you’ll have to ensure your specs are being followed to the letter. You may wind up having to educate the builder about green building strategies, or worse, you may find yourself in conflict with the builder over green practices and products. Your project is likely to go much more smoothly if you hire a builder who has experience building healthy, energy-efficient homes.
When Clarum builds a home, we ensure that there is zero-added formaldehyde to any of the building materials. Cabinets often have particle board, which are big offenders. Clarum provides alternatives that have no particle board or MDFs (medium density fiber-board).
Our team also looks at all of the glues, caulks, paints, and carpets that go into the passive homes we build. Specifically, we review their Green Guard rating and get the lowest we can for each element, such as low- to no-VOC paints. We also incorporate ecologically-responsible building materials.
In addition to eliminating toxic chemicals used in the building process, our other big line of defense against indoor air pollution is heat recovery ventilation. Clarum uses a super high efficiency HRV that continuously brings in fresh air and exhausts old air.
To achieve superior indoor air quality, we pay very close attention to the home’s moisture control systems, pest management, heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC), and combustion venting systems and building materials. Our attention to these details means a home that has less dust, lower pollutants, and is more comfortable and healthier for you and your family.
The builder should be able to show you all three items. Working with an unlicensed builder or contractor is done at your own risk! And, just because a builder has a license doesn’t mean that the company and its workers are insured against injuries, job site accidents, storm damage, or other unforeseen hazards. Ask the builders you interview to see their certificates showing that they are up to date and fully covered with liability and damage insurance, as well as workers’ compensation.
Yes we do. We’re happy to show you. In fact, all of those details will be provided in our contract with you.
While you are looking at the builders’ documentation that protects you from risk, ask this question as well.
Even an experienced custom home builder with good references and years of experiences can make mistakes. Hopefully that will not occur. However, if it does, you need to be protected with at least a one-year warranty. Ask for the specifics of a company’s home warranty – what is covered and what isn’t – and if you feel at all confused about the warranty terms, bring it to a qualified attorney for review.
We have very clear warranty guarantees in each and every contract. We warranty all of our new home construction against defects, faulty material, and/or workmanship in strict accordance with the state of California’s Laws that relate to Contractor’s responsibilities.
Simply discussing your project at length is no guarantee of your results. You don’t want to accept a verbal bid and then end up in a situation in which the contractor tells you, “That’s not what I said.” In the contract, have the details of the project carefully spelled out. For instance:
There should also be a clause for dealing with potential change orders, which allows for additional project elements to be carried out at your behest. Make you know what materials will be used for each house component (i.e.windows, plumbing, roofing, flooring, etc.). This allows you to see where your budget is being spent.
Clarum Homes provides a detailed contract to each one of our clients that explicitly details all of the above items. We want to ensure that we all parties involved have crystal clarity as to the specifications of the project. Our team schedules a specific meeting with each client to review and discuss the contract. During that time, we encourage our clients to ask lots of questions to ensure that they understand each component of their construction.
We hope these questions are helpful in your search for a home builder. If you ask these of each home builder you interview, you will have a much clearer understanding of which company is the best fit for building your new custom home.
At Clarum Homes, we can answer your all of your questions with the greatest confidence. We manage each construction project with our knowledgeable, highly qualified team of building professionals who act as stewards of your money and your new home. We promise to keep you informed and ensure ongoing communication between all team members. Throughout your project, Clarum will carefully monitor the schedule and proactively manage changes to ensure that your project is delivered on time.
Learn more about Clarum Homes and our process of building custom dream homes. Call 650.322.7069.