No matter how reputable your builder or how many barns he’s built, it’s important that you ask questions. In your world, the only barn that matters is the one built for you. Think of yourself as the foreman of the project, even if you think that idea is redundant. No one will be as interested in the outcome or live with the results as long as you. Make sure you can answer the following questions:
1. Is the site we’ve chosen the best location? 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.
2. 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 if he has conflicts among multiple jobs.
3. 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.
4. Who is responsible for contacting underground utility companies about buried cable, phone lines, etc.? Make sure someone attends to this before any excavation begins.
5. 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. You don’t want to be responsible for holding up your own project.
6. Do you have a crew you work with on a regular basis? Far fewer surprises occur when a builder has a crew or a group of sub-contractors with whom he continually works.
7. Can I have documentation of your workers insurance? Be sure to follow through on this and get the paperwork.
8. 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.
9. 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 it’s better to be safe than sorry.
10. How long will you come 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.