Your house will be the biggest investment which you will make as it is a lot of your hard earned dollars which you are spending for a home for you and your family.
When you are having your home built by a contractor, it is very important for you to do what you can to ensure you are making the right decision. The intent here is to make sure you are following a process so that you consider things which most homeowners do not before hiring their builder.
In some cases someone will refer a builder which they have had a good experience with. In most other cases, you
The Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) is the provincial body which governs the Homeowner Protection Act in B.C. The first step is to look for Licensed Residential Builders which are candidates to build your home. A good place to start would be the builder registry at www.hpo.bc.ca; there is a Builder Registry link on the main page. This registry has all of the builders in B.C. which are licensed and approved by a 3rd party warranty provider. You can search by company name, a builder’s personal name or even the city where you plan to build your home.
It is recommended to speak to more than a few builders and compare things such as the obvious pricing, references which they are able to provide of other owners who they have built for (references - go and see the home if possible), duration of build (home many months they will take to complete your home) and you may want to contact their warranty provider to get whatever information they are able to offer (usually just the status of the builder, i.e. “member in good standing”).
Pricing is very important as most builders typically enter in to a contract in one of two ways:
- Cost Plus – this means that they usually tack on a percentage to all materials and labor which goes in to your home. As an example, the builder may charge 5% on total costs which contribute to your home.
- Management Contract – this means that they will charge you a sum of money and you as the owner would pay the selected trades directly. As an example, depending on the complexity of your home, a builder may charge a $30,000 Management Fee for looking after the construction of the home which would include hiring trades and supervising day-to-day construction.
In either way, the builder should be providing you with the minimum mandatory 2-5-10 warranty.
Get it in Writing! Be it your contract with your builder or with your trades which you are hiring directly; be sure to get as many details of your negotiation / agreement in writing. Details with your builder would include things such as the price of the contract, terms of payment (when payments are due to the builder), who will be paying the trades, what their process is when you would like to make changes during construction (i.e. re-sizing a bedroom, changing the design / style of something different from original plans, etc.), documenting who is responsible for carrying the course of construction insurance (and ensuring the builder has their own liability insurance in place as well as some of the major trades), them providing you with copies of all inspections and engineer’s reports, what would happen in the event of a falling out if it were to happen (not something you want to think about at this stage, but it is better to plan for worse-case), etc.
If you are paying the builder’s trades directly, it would be a good idea to get quotes on your own just to make sure you are keeping them honest so that their trades are not over-charging you.
When the home is at lock-up stage or any stage moving forward you should ask the builder’s warranty provider to provide confirmation that the home is enrolled under the 2-5-10 warranty as well as before your last payment to the builder when the home is complete. You want to ensure that even once work is complete, you have the comfort and security that your home does have coverage in the event of a problem.