Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing Your Builder
If you're in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Whether you are buying a condo, a townhouse, a house in a subdivision, or a custom-built house, you want to know that you are buying a high-quality home from a reputable builder.
Start your Search
Once you have thought about the type of house you want, where should you look for a builder? First, make a list of builders who build the type of home you're looking for in your price range. The real estate section of your newspaper is a good place to start. Looking through the ads and reading the articles can help you find out which builders are active in your area, the types of homes they are building, and the prices you can expect to pay. In addition, your local home builders association has a list of builders who construct homes in your area. Local real estate agents may also be able to help you in your search. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Ask about builders they have dealt with directly, or ask them for names of acquaintances who have recently had a good experience with a builder.
Take a Look Around
Once you have a list of builders, how can you find out about their reputations and the quality of their work? The best way to learn about builders is to visit homes they have built and talk to the owners. Ask builders on your list for the addresses of their recently built houses, subdivisions, townhouses, or condos. Builders may even be able to provide names of some new homeowners who would be willing to talk with you. Drive by on a Saturday morning when homeowners may be outside doing chores or errands. Just introduce yourself and say you are considering buying a home from the builder who built their home. Visit several owners, and try to get a random collection of opinions. The more people you talk with, the more accurate impression of a builder you are likely to get. At the very least, drive by and see if the homes are visually appealing. Look at homes that are like the style you plan to buy — for example, if you are interested in a two-story home, look at two-story homes rather than split levels. When you talk to builders and homeowners, take along a notebook to record the information you find and your personal impressions about specific builders and homes. Doing so will help you make comparisons later. Some questions you can ask people are:
- Are you happy with your home?
- Did the builder do what was promised in a timely manner?
- Would you buy another home from this builder?
Usually, people tell you if they are pleased with their homes. And if they are not, they'll probably want to tell you why.
Shop for Quality and Value
Look at new homes whenever you can. Home shows and open houses sponsored by builders are good opportunities to look at homes. Model homes and homes displayed in these shows are often furnished to give you ideas for using the space. You may also ask a builder to see unfurnished homes. When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features. Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, carpeting, trim work, and paint. Ask the builder or the builder's representative a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. If you receive the answers verbally rather than in writing, take notes. Never hesitate to ask a question. What seems like an insignificant question might yield an important answer. Always keep value in mind when shopping. Just because a home is less expensive than another does not mean it is a better value. Likewise, a more expensive home does not automatically assure higher quality. A home is primarily a place to live, but it is also an important investment. Consider the appreciation potential of any home and the possible future influences that location, housing supply and demand, and other market factors will have on the value of your new home. Another important aspect of value is design quality. When you look at a home, determine whether it will suit your lifestyle. Is there enough living space? Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? What about storage space? Will you have room to accommodate special interests or hobbies — for example, a large kitchen for casual entertaining, or a room for a home office or exercise room? Think about the amount of upkeep required both indoors and out. Consider also the location of the property. Is it convenient to transportation, shopping, schools or other places of interest to you?
Ask Questions about Service
One important criterion for selecting a builder is the warranty provided on the home. Most builders offer some form of written warranty. Many builders back their own warranties on workmanship and materials, typically for one year. Other builders offer warranties backed by an insurance company. Ask to see a copy of the builders warranty. Although reading legal documents is tedious, read the warranty to understand what protection you would have. Don't wait to read it until after you move in and a problem arises. If you have any questions about the coverage, ask the builder.
Also, find out from each builder what kind of service you can expect after the sale. Typically, a builder makes two service calls during the first year after you move in to repair non-emergency problems covered by your warranty. The first call is usually 30 to 120 days after the move-in, and the second is around the eleventh month — right before any one-year warranties on workmanship and materials expire. For emergencies, the builder should be able to send someone to your home right away. Some other questions you might ask builders are:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Whom do you contact for customer service after the sale? Should requests be in writing?
- What responsibility does the builder assume for the work of subcontractors? Who will be responsible for correcting problems with major appliances?
- Does the builder belong to the local builders association (affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders?)
- Does the builder use state-of-the-art energy features?
- Equipment, insulation, design, and landscaping can all affect a home's energy efficiency.
- Buying a new home is one of the biggest and most important purchases you will make in your lifetime. By doing your homework, you will be able to shop for a home with a sense of confidence and the knowledge that will help you make the right decision.
If you have additional questions about selecting a builder, please contact the Wausau Area Builders Association directly via our contact form. We would be happy to help you get the answers you're looking for.
Don't Wall Flower - Network Properly!
Honestly, have you ever attended a professional event and found the experience to be far less than what you had hoped for? Attending networking events has proven to be frustrating and ultimately a waste of time for many a small business exec because of these basic issues:
- Overblown expectations ("That was not as good as I wanted it to be, I'm not going again.")
- No plan of attack ("I didn't run into anyone the entire time I was standing there.")
Here are a few secrets that might make your next networking event a little more enjoyable.
- Know where you're going. Knowing who is likely to attend the event will help you decide, if this is important for you to attend. If you are considering going to an event that you have never attended before, try to get a copy of the registration list or membership roster. By examining this you can get a fairly good idea of who you can expect to meet.
- Know why you're going. Determine what you want out of this experience, and what you need to make this worth your time.
- Have a system. Many amateur networkers find the real killer isn't so much who is in attendance or their own unrealistic expectations, but the time they waste during the event. Working a networking room requires planning and a clear vision of how you want to spend your time.
Some easy and effective tips:
- Arrive about 15 minutes before the official event start time. Wear a large easy-to-read nametag. Of course, have lots of business cards. Wear clothing with pockets so you don't have to do a lot of digging ("Here, can you hold this for a sec? I know they're in here somewhere...").
- Station yourself close to the entry door, close enough that people might mistake you for one of the hosts. Greet each person as he or she enters. Nothing more than a greeting and hopefully, noticing their company name.
- When arrivals begin to slow, begin your progression around the room. Move in one direction, greet the first person or group of people you meet. Spend two or three minutes at most, introduce yourself, and learn as much as you can about the person or people you've just met.
- Don't clutter the conversation with information about yourself, keep everything focused on the person or group you are speaking with. Most everyone will give you cards. If possible, keep separate the cards of those individuals you wish to get to know better and connect with again during the event. Put the other cards in another pocket. This system allows you to immediately find the cards of the people you want to reconnect with without having to try and remember the names.
- If you meet someone you would like to get to know better, before moving on let the person know of your interest in learning more about their business and ask permission to make contact via phone at a later date. If the person agrees, take one of your business cards and on the back write the day and hour span of time during which you will call, Thursday, August 9, between 10:30 and 11:30. That day and time will of course be the same for everyone you meet whom you want to call. It keeps you from having to remember when you said you will call (you've already set a reminder for yourself to do this on your calendar), and as long as you call within the hour, you're not late!
If at the end of the event you have time to mingle again, take a look at the few cards in your right hand pocket and seek to reconnect with those people. This is essentially the third time you've met them and so you're basically friends, now. This third conversation will be a little more in depth, but don't forget to keep the focus on the other person. On Thursday, or whatever day you chose, make your phone calls like you said you would. This system allows you to enjoy your networking events and get more out of them.
Provided by your National Association of Home Builders, Membership Minute.
Spikes are very valuable to our association because they work to bring in new members and encourage current members to renew their membership. Their efforts are essential to the growth and well-being of our association. We are pleased to join with NAHB and its affiliates across the country in recognizing our "Spikes".
Created in 1953, the NAHB Spike Program is designed to recognize and reward those members who are actively involved in recruitment and retention of members. There are currently 15.164 Spikes in local associations across the country and almost an equal member of Spike Candidates, those individuals working to obtain Spike status. Through the NAHB Spike Club, these members receive awards of silver and gold lapel pins, plaques, blazers and sweaters for their efforts in membership development.
At local membership meetings and at the NAHB annual Convention, Spikes proudly wear their hard-earned blazers and sweaters, and on Spike Color Day at the Convention, thousands of Spikes are recognized on the board floor by the NAHB Board of Directors. As additional recognition, all Spikes in good standing that have also recruited at least one new member during the Membership Year, are invited to attend the annual NAHB Spike Party held during the Convention in January.
To become a Spike, an individual must obtain 6 credits within two consecutive years. Spike members must then earn two credits until they reach Life Spike status with 25 credits.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can become a member of the Spike Club and enjoy its rewards, contact the Wausau Area Builders Association at 715-842-9510.
And the Straight Answers Are:
1. What publications do I automatically get from NAHB?
As a NAHB member, you will receive a free subscription to Nation's Building News, published sixteen times a year with the latest news and analysis on regulatory, technical, legislative, and other industry-related issues. All new members also receive a free subscription to NAHB's builder magazine.
Note to associate members: You may continue your free subscription after a three-month trial simply completing a qualification card included in your magazine.
2. How can NAHB improve my bottom line as a builder?
NAHB is the place to go for "hands-on" help for your bottom line. Call 800-368-5242, ext. 113 for assistance or email Allan Freedman, Director for NAHB's Business Management Department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can answer simple questions directly or we may recommend a book for more complex issues. If you really are committed to long term excellence for your company then you should ask about the Builder 20 Club program or our specialized educational programming. We have the key to success - you just have to want to walk through the door.
You can also utilize the economic and forecasting information available from our Economics Department to understand current and future trends and adjust your business accordingly. Contact the NAHB Economics, Mortgage Finance, and Housing Policy Division at 1-800-368-5242, ext. 870.
3. I'm in remodeling (sales and marketing, multifamily or seniors housing, light commercial construction, etc.). How do I get involved in my specific segment of the industry?
Join a NAHB Council! NAHB responds to the increasingly diverse need of it's membership with specialized services of these industry councils: Building Systems, Remodelers (and Remodelers 20 Club), Commercial Builders, Multifamily, Seniors Housing, National Sales and Marketing, and Women's Council. Call 1-800-368-5242, ext. 418 for more information.
4. I'm an associate member. How do I network with builders?
Your best strategy - Get involved! Working side-by-side with a builder member on an association project or issue demonstrates your commitment to the industry, while it builds the foundation of a trustworthy relationship necessary to long term business success. It's a more effective approach than hard-selling yourself. You can also purchase NAHB's Mailing List Service at a member discount to target qualified member prospects and reach your strongest markets.
5. Am I invited to attend NAHB's Annual Convention and Exposition?
Absolutely! And as a first time attendee, you are eligible to receive a special discounted registration fee.
6. How does NAHB's work on Capitol Hill benefit me in my hometown?
By supporting pro-housing legislation and fighting burdensome regulations, NAHB directly influences national policies, which in turn directly impact your business at home. NAHB also provides lobbying assistance to your state and local builders associations to ensure a healthy building environment on all levels. Through NAHB's grassroots efforts, you have a powerful voice with our nation's leaders on the issues that matter to our industry.
7. How does NAHB help me understand and comply with all these new and changing regulations?
NAHB keeps you informed of major changes in regulations from environmental, building codes and standards, to labor, safety and health to OSHA. NAHB offers programs and seminars on critical issues that affect the building industry, publications addressing new or changing policies, as well as a team of interdisciplinary staff experts who are ready to address your needs - and all just a phone call away.
8. Can I save money through my NAHB membership?
Yes, if you take advantage of our discounted business products and services! NAHB's buying power gives you great deals on office products, airline reservations, car rentals, long distance phone service, credit cards and special NAHB logo merchandise - just to name a few! You also receive a 20% member discount on all books, brochures, videotapes, and audio cassettes available through the Home Builder Bookstore. Call the Home Builder Bookstore at 1-800-223-2665, or visit their website at www.builderbooks.com.
9. How can I access NAHB information online?
Just visit NAHB's "The Home Page" at www.nahb.com. The Home Page is the address for Nation's Building News online, the International Builders' Show, The International Commercial Construction Exposition (ICCON), and the Remodelers' Show. You can also access NAHB.net, NAHB's member-only online community found at www.nahb.net. Engage in real-time chat with other users online, find industry-specific message boards, an interactive address book, and an archived library of housing reference material. To access NAHB.net, you will need your membership ID number, available through your local home builders association, NAHB, and on your copy of Builder magazine. For more information on all of NAHB's Online Services call 1-800-368-5242, ext. 499, or email email@example.com.
10. What other free services are available through NAHB?
When faced with legal questions, you can call NAHB's attorneys for fast answers and expert assistance. All legal services to members are at no charge or just a minimal fee. The National Housing Library will create a free, customized resource list for you on books, magazine articles, convention tapes, and videos relating to any building topic - from ADA compliance to zero lot lines. For a nominal fee, the National Housing Library can even fax you articles or lend you books or videos from their extensive resource collection.
Provides leadership development opportunities by...
- Voicing the concerns of the housing industry to state and federal representatives and regulators; advocating for changes to state and federal laws, building codes, etc.; assisting members who are active in state, local and national politics; and endorsing candidates who support the building industry. Increases your professional opportunities by...
- Holding formal and informal networking events; hosting golf outings, silent auctions and other activities designed to get members together; and sponsoring an annual statewide convention. Enhances your credibility and visibility by...
- Projecting a positive image for the whole industry; and giving public recognition to active, dedicated members. Carries group buying power by...
- Offering insurance services exclusively to members through Build Wisconsin Insurance Services; and coordinating discount programs for a variety of products and services. Adds to your industry knowledge and promotes quality building by...
- Providing information of the latest industry activities and technologies; publishing a bi-monthly magazine, The Wisconsin Badger Builder, and a monthly newsletter, Wisconsin Building News, specifically for members; and representing the industry perspective to the media and the public. Improves your professional skills by...
- Offering educational programs, seminars and workshops; sponsoring nationally-recognized continuing education courses; and partnering with the Associated Builders and Contractors for participation in their apprenticeship programs.
- Actively involving members in the management and goal-setting of the association; and encouraging member participation on committees and councils. Allows you to give back to the industry that has given you so much by...
- Managing the efforts of the WBA Foundation which provides scholarships, educational programs, disaster relief, and charitable aid to those in need. And more...
Contact the Wisconsin Builders Association
4868 High Crossing Blvd.
Madison, WI 53704
You have taken an important step in your profession by joining your local home builders association, and now you are also a member at the state and national level. Now what?
Over the years, we've learned from members like yourself what works and what doesn't during the critical first year of membership. Most new members would like to see maximum return on their dues investment as soon as possible, but aren't sure how to begin. Here are some tips we've gathered from experienced NAHB members who can testify to the benefits of NAHB involvement:
1. Define your expectations.
Why did you join? Was it to gain industry knowledge, enhance your professional credibility and visibility, increase your sales, utilize a discount, or influence legislation? Clarifying what you want will help you develop the right strategies to achieve your goals.
2. Get your essential tools immediately (they're FREE!)
Call your local home builders association and get the "must haves" for any new member:
- NAHB's CONTACT brochure, a telephone directory of NAHB staff experts divided by alpha listing as well as by issues.
- The Annual Resource Guide for NAHB Members, a comprehensive description of more than 250 NAHB member services.
- NAHB Logo Sheets and Usage Guidelines, so you can promote your affiliation with NAHB on your business cards, stationery, brochures,etc.
- The the Business Discounts for NAHB Members flyer - your link to NAHB discount business products and services.
If any of these materials are not available through your local home builders association, call NAHB Membership Marketing at 1-800-368-5242, ext. 440.
3. Call the NAHB Member Service Center for year-round assistance: 1-800-368-5242, ext. 0.
Whether you have a basic question or a complex business or industry-related problem, your best bet is to call one of our Information Specialists at the Member Service Center. You'll receive the information you need or your call will be quickly directed to the proper staff expert.
4. Attend your local association's new member orientation.
Here's your opportunity to learn about local programs, services, and benefits that specifically match your needs. It's also a great way to meet and get to know your fellow members in a relaxing atmosphere. If your organization doesn't hold a formal orientation program, make an appointment to meet with an association representative who can help you get the most out of your membership dollars.
5. Network at a General Membership Meeting.
It's easy to make friends and build business contacts at a gathering of your industry peers. You'll also keep up-to-date with what's happening within the association, industry, and community, which is good for your own business.
6. Read the local, state and national newsletters and publications.
You'll learn about the latest technology and industry trends, who's who in the association and business community, and programs, services, discounts and other benefits that are available to improve your productivity and profits. You can also keep up-to-date with Nation's Building News, a free NAHB publication that you'll receive monthly.
7. Get involved in association projects relevant to your needs.
Are you looking to enhance your public image?
Donate your time and/or materials for a Home Builders Care project in your community, such as building or renovating a homeless shelter, a playground or building handicap access ramps.
Would you like to increase your business contacts while gaining national recognition?
Get involved in membership recruitment and retention.
Tired of burdensome regulations or have the desire to affect change in local,state or national legislation?
Join a Government Affairs Committee and be a voice in getting policies changed. The association offers a wealth of opportunities to help you help yourself and your business.
8. Attend special association events, e.g. education programs, home shows, and industry trade shows.
You can pick up information at these local events that will save you time and money down the road - as well as enhance your image in the community. Learn what education programs are offered nationally by accessing www.nahb.net or www.nahb.com and click on Education and Training, or call 1-800-368-5242, ext. 487.
9. Have fun!
The effort to get involved and take advantage of all the association has to offer is worth it - and you'll even have fun along the way!
10. Reap the rewards of your membership and RENEW.
You'll need NAHB involvement to continue cultivating long-term relationships with other members while at the same time continuing to strengthen your own professionalism.