Two completed homes next to another home under construction.

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Questions Every First Time Home Buyer Should Ask Their Home Builder

Buying your first home is an exciting time for anyone, but it can also be intimidating. All the forms and paperwork, banking and lawyers involved in home buying in Calgary can become confusing, uncharted territory for a first time home buyer. Working with a builder to build a home from the ground up can add even more unexpected decisions to the mix, but don’t worry, your builder has been through this process many times before and they can be a helpful resource to any young home owner.  

Here are five common questions you should always discuss with your home builder.

Who will oversee my project?

All residential construction sites have managers who oversee every project, thought their titles may vary. For some builders, your primary contact and the person overseeing the project will be the same person, and other builders divide those roles between a manager who focuses on the construction project and a manager who focuses on answering your questions and supporting you as the customer. However your builder organizes this work, you will have one clear, primary contact who will keep you up to date on everything

A Madison Homes townhome in Wolf Willow with landscaped yard.

This blog post by Shane Homes, a duplex builder in Wolf Willow, provides an overview of the home building process from start to finish. You’ll notice that the Area Manager offers oversight to the project and acts as the buyers contact. An Area Manager also features prominently in this process overview by Madison Avenue Group, along with a Site Supervisor and Construction Manager.

What’s your warranty program? How do you handle issues?

All new homes built in Alberta after 2014 are automatically covered by the provincial New Home Warranty. You can learn more about your coverage on the provincial government website.

On top of this, your builder may offer additional warranty coverage. For example, Wolf Willow builder Jayman BUILT offers a warranty program that includes 24-hour emergency service is you experience sudden emergencies like loss of heat or water, among other benefits. Each builder offers different services for ensuring your home continues to be safe and efficient after you move in, so be sure to ask your builder about these services before making your final decision.

What kind of access do I have to the job site?

Generally, as a home buyer, you will not be required to spend much time at your new home building site. The amount of time you are allowed to or expected to be present at the site depends on your builder. For example, Morrison Homes, another Wolf Willow builder, enthusiastically encourages site visits. Other builders will only allow for few, pre-scheduled visits to the site for inspection at key points in construction.

A Wolf Willow street with some built homes and some empty lots.

No matter who your builder is though, it’s important to contact them ahead of any visit you’d like to take. Surprise visits can be a safety concern and delay construction, resulting in a longer wait for you. By contacting your builder ahead of time, they can schedule your visit for a date and time that will give you the most access possible and minimize interruption to your building schedule. This also gives the team time to ensure the site is safe for you to visit.

What are the timelines?

Wolf Willow builder Stepper Homes outlines the entire process from start to end on their website. The average time listed for construction of a Stepper home is 140 – 180 days, which is about 4.5 to 6 months. This period of time will vary by builder, by the size of your new home, and by the level of customization you are able to request. If you want a large and highly personalized home it will take longer to build than a small, base-model home.

This is the timing for construction only though, there are a few steps you’ll need to take before your construction team is ready to break ground.

If you’re interested in purchasing a new home but don’t want to wait several months for it to be built, you can explore Quick Possession homes. These are new homes pre-built by Wolf Willow builders and made available for sale as is, so you can simply move in and get settled. This is a great option for anyone buying their first home who prioritizes the speed of the process.

The kitchen, living, and dining area of a Trico Homes house.

Can my lawyer take a look at any construction contracts before I sign it?

Having a lawyer review any contract before you sign is generally good practice, and that is especially true for a contract as important as this. A lawyer can help you understand any terms that may be new to you and represent your interests as a home buyer.

Alberta law firm Heritage Law Offices in Edmonton has a helpful blog post that describes how a lawyer can help you navigate your contract.

Contracts also can also differ depending on where you build. While all property owners are responsible for maintaining their property, some communities have specific agreements on what your home and lawn should look like. Communities may also offer incentives for you to build there, such as these two WestCreek Referral Programs available in Wolf Willow. Many communities have both, among other unique traits. This is another reason to consider having a lawyer review everything before you sign a contract—they can help make sure your transition to a new home and/or new neighbourhood goes smoothly.