Questions to Ask when Visiting New Homes

When visiting different builders on your Open House tours you may feel you are “annoying the salesperson” but these are really great questions to ask so you know what kind of home you are looking at.  I am always amazed at the lack of questions about how the home is made when clients tour my homes.  People always seem to ask the size, the price, what kind of wood but they never concern themselves with how its made.  It’s not just about the pretty window treatments or the little knickknacks all over the place.  Here are some great questions to ask to find out how the home is built.

Framing

  • Ask how the home is constructed.
  • What is the framing lumber 2×4 vs. 2×6
  • It is 16″ on center or further?
  • How about the floor joists?  Engineered, 2″x10″, 2″x12″
  • What is the spacing on the floor joists
  • How about the wall construction.  Vapor barrier, Tyveck, foam insulation or sheathing
  • Is the lumber Kiln Dried
  • What are the thickness of the floorboards and how are they fastened

Roofing

  • What is the warranty of the roof
  • What brand shingles are they
  • Do you use ice and water shield anywhere

Drywall

  • Is it primed first then painted or does the builder mix the paint and the primer in one spray
  • What measures does the builder take to prevent cracks and pops
  • Is there a touch up included
  • Chinese Drywall was it used.  (Not very common in the midwest and Wisconsin because it is to expensive to truck materials from down south and port areas this far, so typically it is locally produced)

Heating and Cooling

  • Is the Home Energy Star Certified
  • What is the efficiency of the furnace and air conditioner
  • What is the refrigerant used
  • What upgrades are available

Windows

  • Are they Low E
  • Are they Energy Star windows
  • What is the exterior: wood, vinyl, or aluminum
  • Do they have UV protection
  • What is the warranty

Insulation

  • What type is used (Blown, Batts, Foam) and what is the rating for the walls and attic
  • Does the builder go back and seal penetrations

Home Warranty

  • Does the builder provide their own warranty or use a third party provider
  • How does the warranty process work
  • How long is the warranty and what is covered

Woodwork

  • How is it finished.  Is it job finished or factory pre finished.
  • Cabinets how are they constructed.  Box cabinets, mill made.

Remember to not be afraid to ask questions.  You are going to own your new home for a long time!  These are important things to find out.  If you get serious on a home you may even want to find out what the utility bills might be.  In the long run you might be better off spending a little more on the more efficient or well built home with the better equipment and higher efficiency vs paying those higher utility bills every month.  Finding out what is beneath the surface can help save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.

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