15 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Custom Builder

by Robert Monetti, Owner, Monetti Custom Homes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it has become apparent throughout the Jersey shore that when restoring, renovating or building a custom home, it may be challenging to distinguish between reputable and established Custom Builders or Architects and those who are not.

In New Jersey, there are currently scores of names on trucks from all over the country that have little interest in the long-term, responsible reconstruction of our treasured coast.

Hurricane Sandy devastated our shoreline. Obviously the cost to rebuild will be immense and was unanticipated by all of us. Think seriously about restoring or rebuilding with the right Custom Builder and Architect. There are many questions that you should get answers to before choosing the right Building Professional.

Ask yourself:

1. Did the contractor provide a detailed proposal and carefully explain what items are included for the construction of the project?

2. Did the contractor provide an example of how their firm addresses changes, and was that explained?

3. Is the contractor’s specific service and warranty program carefully enumerated in their proposal?

4. Based on questions we asked, did the contractor truly know our home and understand what our priorities are?

5. Did the contractor indicate in writing what items in terms of cost are excluded, open ended, or unknown in the proposal?

6. Did the contractor discuss any aspect of the allowances and offer proof of how realistic they might be based on his understanding of our budget and taste?

7. Did the contractor spell out/explain specific brand names or product that they intend to use for the construction of our home that may have been a change or upgrade from those provided on the plans?  Did he offer any suggestions?

8. Did the contractor provide detailed explanations, written or verbal, regarding any problems, design considerations, or specialty items in terms of the mechanical systems (heating, air conditioning, plumbing, or electrical)?

9. Did the contractor provide us with visual examples of what they are providing in our home?

10. Is the contractor’s proposal/bid neat, orderly, and most importantly, on time?

11. Has the contractor provided us with a proposed schedule as to how the project course (critical path) will flow?

12. Have we spoken to the contractor’s past clientele from a project that has left the “honeymoon” period (3-4 years)?

13. Understanding that an airline passenger in coach will get to his/her destination at the same time and with the same pilot guiding the aircraft as a first class passenger, have we considered the difference between “cost” and “value” when considering a contractor?

14. Is the contractor accessible, approachable and does he convey integrity?

15. Has the contractor expressed specific passion about “our home” that assures us that he really cares about our satisfaction and the total completeness of the project now and in the future?

Be sure to honestly assess your situation carefully with these guidelines and your building or renovation project will go much more smoothly. Hang on to a copy of these questions for any future building project or home restoration plans or for a family member, friend or coworker to consult.

Monetti Custom Homes is a member of the following esteemed organizations.