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One of the great things about building your own home is the complete control you have over the entire process. From choosing subcontractors and house plans to locating your lot, you are in the driver’s seat as the owner builder. You also get to take on the role of service manager after closing, contacting subcontractors to come back and tweak items that need a little help like a door that rubs. But what if you decide to hire a builder to manage your new home building project? Will they arrange for the subcontractors and suppliers to come back after closing for service?
Typically, if you have a problem with one of the major components of your home you will deal directly with the manufacturer with any problems you have. This includes appliances, windows, siding and roofing…etc. Whether you’ve decided to pay a contractor to manage the complete process of building your new home project or not, you typically deal directly with major manufacturers with product failures.
In some cases this is a good thing. To have the contractor get in the middle, would cause another link in the communication chain that does nothing but slow-up the process. However, there will be times when there is a question as to whether the particular failure is due to the product itself or because of a problem with installation or design. In these cases, you need your contractor to get involved to help.
Windows are a good example of a product in a new home is susceptible to “finger pointing”. If your contractor had a company other than the window distributor install the windows, and there is a problem down the road, there can be confusion as to whom is responsible. If the window leaks, the window manufacturer may say the installer didn’t seal up around the window properly. Or, if the window doesn’t lock properly, the manufacturer may claim the home settled, causing the window to bind in an position that affects the operation.
As the customer, you only care that the problem is fixed. After all, you didn’t do anything wrong. Unfortunately, when one of these grey areas come up, you are left in the middle, frustrated with two or more parties that won’t take ownership of the problem. So, what can you do to protect yourself?
When hiring a contractor, make sure you ask how potential component failures will be resolved. Will the contractor get involved and take an active role in the resolution of the problem? This is where your background check of your builder becomes extremely important. Checking with past customers can help you determine whether a potential contractor is helpful or not after the project is completed.
Another thing you can do to protect yourself is demand from your contractor that only trained and certified installers deal with the products in your home. This is especially important for windows, roofing, and basement waterproofing. The product manufacturers will many times provide certification for installers if they prove they have learned the proper installation techniques. And when the installers are certified, it’s easier to get the manufacturer to take ownership of a problem.
One last way to ease the pain of potential product failures down the road is to insist that all subcontracts for labor be bundled with the products being installed. This means that when you hire a roofer, they will supply the materials as well as install them. So if there is a problem, there is no question as to whom is the “go to” person for the repair. The roofing subcontractor will then be required to work with the manufacturer to resolve the issue.
Be sure to think about post move-in service when selecting contractors to work on your dream home. The best companies will gladly come back and take care of any warranty related issues. And with careful screening, you will find the best to work on your new home.
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