Making the decision to build your own home leads to a search for a contractor. To find the right person to oversee the building of your home, touch on the following topics with each contractor you interview. The contractor's responses can help you determine whether you'll work well together.
References: Ask for the addresses of all the houses the contractor has built and ask several owners how satisfied they were with the contractor. If the current owner isn't the original homeowner, find out how the house is holding up after years of use. The older the house, the better to see the quality of construction.
Previous experiences: Ask what the contractor's worst building experience was and whether the owner was responsible. Try to assess whether the contractor takes responsibility for problems or simply defers blame.
Your involvement in the construction: If you're interested, ask whether the contractor minds you helping with the labor.
Cash flow: Ask how the contractor prefers disbursing payments to subs and suppliers (for example, who will sign the checks).
Communication: Ask how the contractor prefers keeping the lines of communication open — via phone, e-mail, physical meetings — and how often she'll check in.
Decision making: Ask whether he wants you to be involved in every decision or whether he's comfortable making decisions when you're unavailable.
Team spirit: Ask what steps the contractor takes to keep the workers, neighbors, and inspectors happy on the project.
Pet peeves: Ask for a list of ten things that bother her most about customers.
Hypothetically speaking: Ask what the contractor's first steps would be if he took over a project that was three months behind schedule. Also ask how he would handle a project that was 25 percent over budget.