Building a tiny house on wheels is no different from building a home on a foundation. If you aren’t doing all the labor yourself, you are depending on someone else to create (from scratch, mind you) a home for your family that will protect you from the elements, create a comfortable gathering spot, and become the backdrop for years of memories. It is not a job that should be awarded to just anyone. Asking builders the following questions will allow you to choose the right builder and give you confidence in your choice.
HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS? HOW MANY TINY HOUSES ON WHEELS HAVE YOU BUILT?
There is nothing wrong with choosing a relatively new builder. Everyone has to start somewhere. But when talking about building on top of a trailer and building a home that is poised to move down the highway, it is important to know your builders pedigree. Have they built anything other than a birdhouse before? Ask!
ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LICENSED AND INSURED?
Has your builder ever been a licensed contractor in the state he is now established? Has he taken the steps since to become either a NOAH or RVIA certified builder? Furthermore, does he have up-to-date contractors general liability insurance?
WHAT TYPE OF WARRANTY DOES YOUR BUILDER OFFER?
You do not want to get into a situation where you take delivery of your tiny house and within the first 30 days the washer/dryer breaks, the roof leaks, and the plumbing doesn’t drain. If you do though you want the assurance that your builder will handle it promptly.
ARE YOU ABLE TO GIVE ME A REFERENCE OR TWO FROM PREVIOUS BUYERS?
We are now a nation that relies heavily on peer reviews. We take the opinion of others as gospel and there is often good cause. People tend to tell the truth about a situation when reviewing a business. This can help you come to terms with what you may experience.
WHAT STANDARD FEATURES DO YOUR HOMES INCLUDE?
This may sound trite but if you see photos on Facebook or Instagram from your builder and there is a washer/dryer combo or there is reclaimed barn wood flooring, you need to find out if that is custom work or included in all builds. You don’t want to be surprised!
IS MY BUILD COMPLETED ONSITE OR IS IT CONTRACTED OUT? WHO SHOULD I CONTACT WITH ANY QUESTIONS DURING THE PROCESS?
There is nothing wrong with a company that brokers a tiny house build. But you want them to be upfront and communicate with you on who is who and what role they play in the build.
HOW AND WHEN CAN I MAKE CHANGES AND/OR UPGRADES DURING THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS?
You may decide that you want a tub after all. Find out ahead of time when too late is too late.
HOW MUCH OF THE TOTAL COST WILL BE REQUIRED AT THE SIGNING OF THE CONTRACT AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE CHECKOFFS AND PAYMENTS?
Checkoffs are important. You don’t want to pay 50% of the total cost upon signing the contract. There is such thing as “good faith”, yes. But you also want to know that at least the trailer has been ordered before you fork over 50% of an already sizeable sum. At the same time, you want to have scheduled checkoff times so you can see progress, re-assess the build, talk to the builder, and then pay.
Of course, these are not all of the interview questions you may want answers to. In fact, they are not all that you should ask. But they are a great start and will really give you an idea of whether or not a builder is or is not what you are looking for. So tell us. What question would you ask a builder? Why?