No matter how reputable your builder or how many barns he’s built, ask lots of questions. In your world, the only barn that matters is the one built for you. Think of yourself as the foreman of the project. No one will be as interested in the outcome, or live with it as long, as you. You should be able to answer all of the following:
You probably have a site preference for your barn, but your builder may have reservations about your choice. If so, have him explain why and ask for suggestions on alternative locations.
What is a reasonable timetable for building the barn?
Get a tentative completion date at the outset. You don’t want your project pushed to the end of the builder’s schedule.
Who is in charge of checking zoning regulations and getting permits?
Regardless of whose responsibility this is, you should probably check on this yourself. The Internet makes many building regulations transparent and easy to obtain.
Who is responsible for contacting underground utility companies about buried cable, phone lines, et cetera?
Make sure someone attends to this before any excavation gets underway.
What am I responsible for?
Some owners want their builder to take care of all details; others prefer doing some of the work themselves. Regardless of the arrangement, make sure that you’re both on the same page. Barn building is a process, and one unfinished element can delay progress on all the others.
Do you have a crew you work with on a regular basis?
Far fewer surprises occur when a builder usually works with the same crew or group of sub-contractors.
Can I have documentation of your workers insurance?
Be sure and follow through on this and get the paperwork.
What are the warranties on building materials?
Your builder will be installing barn components from different manufacturers. Know who to contact if any are defective or fail.
May my lawyer check out the building contract?
Don’t let anyone rush you into signing a building contract. Paying a lawyer to go over the details is like buying insurance–you may not need it, but you’ll want it if a situation arises.
How long will you come out to repair any defects in workmanship?
Find out the amount of time that the builder guarantees his work. If you develop a leaky roof or have a frozen water line with your “frost-free” system, you want to know who is liable and for how long.