How to get the most out of a reference check. For many prospective homebuyers, we suggest a few questions to solicit the kind of information that will help them make an informed and confident decision. Of course, you may have your own agenda and priorities, which we encourage; these questions just may help get the conversation going. 1. Was the company easy to work with? Ask how the builder managed communication with the buyers before and during construction. Timely response to questions and concerns should only be the starting point. The best builders will have very specific methods and systems to organize all the communication on your project. A professional builder will initiate regular contact, beginning with design guidance to after you move-in. 2. Did they finish on time and completely? If the answer is “no,” dig a little deeper into why. It may be that the owner made changes that caused some delays, or that bad weather was an unavoidable factor. Finishing on time reveals the builder’s commitment and organizational skills. Poorly organized builders will leave quite a bit of work and “loose-ends” until after the owner has moved in. 3. Did they finish on budget? Like finishing on time (or within the owner’s expectations), finishing on budget indicates a builder’s organizational and business acumen, specifically his cost-estimating skills. If the answer is “no,” ask why and look for clues about changes or special orders by the owners that may have been outside the scope of the original budget. Perhaps the builder neglected to calculate a cost and tried to make the owners pay for it at completion. Professional builders are able to work under a fixed price agreement with few if any budget surprises. 4. Did they disappear after move-in? Perhaps a new homeowner’s biggest worry is what happens after they move in. A builder who has been available to answer questions and respond to reasonable warranty issues is an important indicator of a builder’s long-term commitment to construction quality and customer satisfaction. Make sure the extra attention is not for work that should have been completed prior to move-in (see number 2). 5. Was the job site clean? The best builders leave the job site clean at the end of each day. They sweep and haul their trash away, store or take their tools, and stack their materials. Not only does the jobsite look good (as good as anything can under construction), but also is one that’s safer should the owners want to review the construction progress on their own after work. These questions probably do not satisfy all of your needs, but it’s a start and often will inspire more questions that further reveal whether the builder you’re considering is one you can trust and rely on to do the job right. What our customers say.