Sure it looks great, but how does a homebuyer really judge the quality of a new home? Even for an expert, it's hard to tell in a finished home. Here's a tip sheet on questions you can ask to help you sort through claims of quality to see if your builder is actually cutting corners!
1. Does the builder use double wall 2X6 construction on ALL living area exterior walls?
United Builders adds an extra layer of oriented strand-board on the exterior of the house. It's called "double wall construction" and it adds sheer strength (side-to-side), and insulation against weather and noise. Some builders make a "good show" on the front of their houses --high gables, double wall construction, and lap siding --where it can be seen, but then use single wall construction for the rest--or just single wall everywhere. [Top]
2. Is the house just built to code minimums or is "extra structure" added for stability and comfort?
"Bargain" builders can skimp by doing the bare minimum required by code. United Builders cares about the experience you have in your home: we add extra floor joists in the main living areas, use finger-jointed studs which eliminate later warping and cracking the walls, double wall construction throughout, extra insulation. In dozens of tiny ways, we upgrade the what's inside the walls of our homes to give them that unmistakable "feel" of quality. [Top]
3. Is the home built by certified and trained carpenters, apprenticed in their trade?
Would you knowingly have a medical operation by someone who had the instruments and the white coat --but no training? So what about the most important asset in your family's life --your home!
Since 1949 every United Builders home has been built by skilled and trained union craftsmen. Many questions can be so hard to determine by the new homebuyer: Are the walls straight and true? Corners square? Built to spec? Are shingles, siding, and flooring properly glued and nailed? All these questions are answered by the skill and training of the people who build your house. A lot of that quality is INSIDE the walls, where it can't be seen. And a lot of amateurish work - work that can come back to haunt you down the line --can be hidden with a nice-looking sheetrock job. We call it "sheetrock magic" but for you, it's not very entertaining. [Top]
4. How do their older subdivisions look?
Another reliable way of determining the quality of your builder is to take a look at their older subdivisions. How well people take care of their houses is a sure sign of the care the builder took with the houses to begin with. United Builders is proud that we don't just build great houses; we build great neighborhoods. Even neighborhoods built decades ago are filled with well-maintained homes, improving in value significantly over time. [Top]
5. Now take a closer look at what you CAN see in the finished house.
Do sliding closet doors rest against wood jambs or sheetrock (which may crumble after a few years)? Are trim pieces made of solid wood and solid wood veneers? (Look closely, it could just be a photo-simulation of wood.) Are there open joints, bad miters, doors that don't appear to "fit" evenly in the door openings?
United Builders cases all its doors in premier wood casings, and all our trim is custom mitred and fitted by master carpenters. Because of training and professionalism, our finish carpentry is as good or better than homes costing three and four times as much. [Top]
6. Are the cabinets custom built for the home or "pre-bought" packages screwed to the wall?
In some inexpensive homes, cabinets look nice from a distance, but are actually made of simulated wood. ALL United Builders' cabinets are made in our own shop of solid hardwoods and/or solid hardwood veneers. Our finish carpenters carefully fit them to perfectly to each opening. And if you choose, we can fit a bookcase, china cabinet, a hutch or other specialty built-ins, into any niche in your home, for quite a reasonable price. [Top]
7. Check the builders' list of "standard" options for appliances and hardware. Is your builder cutting corners with "off-brand" names?
United Builders always furnishes their homes with solid, known name manufacturers products with a reputation for quality and longevity. Jeld-Wen Windows, Owens-Corning Roofing, Moen Faucets, Trane Furnaces, Kenmore Appliances, Wilsonart laminate, Shaw Carpets. [Top]
8. Are there "hidden costs" of that "low price" home?
How about long commutes which can add hundreds of dollars a month? "Standard Materials" that you HAVE to upgrade to meet minimum comfort standards. A house or a neighborhood that deteriorates quickly, taking your equity down the drain with it? A United Builders home, whatever the price, is ready to live in, no hidden costs, and built to last a lifetime. Of course you CAN add options improve the exterior (from brick to higher gables to special siding) or customize our interiors (tile, laminate flooring, special lighting, extra custom cabinetry), but you'll never need to upgrade a United Builders home just to meet minimum livability standards. [Top]
9. What's the warranty? Is your builder well-established enough to stand behind their OWN product?
Any reputable builder should not hesitate to provide a full 10 year warranty of their product. United Builders' includes a 1 year "bumper-to-bumper" warranty and extensive system and structural coverage thereafter. But also be sure to ask existing owners about promptness and attitude. Our customers will tell you all United Builders homeowners a considered part of our extended family, and we take strides to take care of them throughout their ownership. We've been known to replace blown off shingles on houses that are 10 years old. [Top]
10. What can you tell about a builder by what you see at a worksite?
Drive by the worksite of any builder you are considering and look carefully. Is everybody working? Does someone seem to be in charge? Is there something being done on the house virtually every day? How big is the scrap pile? (Remember that even if they cart it off to the dump, you are paying for all the scrap you see on site). At United Builders we are proud of our worksites. The purposefulness, and professionalism of our crews is legendary. We pride ourselves on having the cleanest sites and the smallest scrap pile, and we seldom take longer than 60 days to FINISH a house once a permit has been issued because...we know what we're doing! And that, in a nutshell, is how we can provide a home with skilled craftsman quality, and still keep a price that's competitive with anybody! The quality of a house is told in the company's commitment to quality: attention to every component, often well beyond code minimums, and often not visible during inspections. We hope these tips, will help you as a new home buyer "see through" the walls to the quality within.