7 Questions to Ask Builders to Help Them Choose the Right Material

Builders have a lot of options for the materials they use on a construction project, especially since more innovative and versatile materials are available. But often the choices get overwhelming, and it can seem easier for builders to use products they’re already familiar with.

But building materials dealers can help their builder customers out by guiding them through product selection and asking the right questions. This kind of support on a project can go a long way, especially in strengthening the relationship that dealers have with their builder contacts to become a trusted partner.

Here are a few questions dealers can ask builders when they’re choosing materials, so you can help make their next project a success.

What’s your project lead time?

For any construction job, the turn-around time of a project can determine which materials you’ll need to get the job done. Even if you’re working with experienced builders, dealers can help contractors meet all of the project requirements (and deadlines) by knowing the best products available.

“Contractors are busy, and all the installers are busy, so that means they're going really fast,” explains Allura representative, Shannon Counsil. “That also means the product is only as good as it's installed.”

If a crew is behind on a job and needs to speed up any part of the installation, it doesn’t matter how high quality a product might be. “If they don't put it on the wall right, it's not the same,” says Shannon.

Of course, some factors (like weather) can delay projects, as well. “Here in the Northwest it's constantly raining,” explains Shannon, “so crews will put the siding up and then it rains, and then they go paint it. They’re wasting lots of time and money.”

Builders need solutions that are both high-quality and easy-to-install, to help guarantee smoother installations and meet project deadlines.

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When builders choose fiber cement siding, they’ll have an array of color and finish options. That means builders in rain-heavy parts of the country can choose pre-painted panels so they won’t need to worry about finishes or dealing with weather issues if their project calls for a paint job.

What products are you using now?

Builders that have to make decisions about which products they’re using will often stick with what they’ve always selected. While there are some high-quality and reliable materials on the market, using the same old products often results in missed opportunities.

“Many of today’s most widely used building materials have limitations, especially with regard to their impact on the environment,” writes Len Williams for Engineering and Technology. “In response, innovative engineers around the world have developed new building materials that could provide an alternative.”

Builders have more product options to choose from because there has long been a need for more sustainable and low-maintenance solutions in construction. If your builder wants to incorporate the look of cement into their project, a more cost-effective (and time-saving) product like fiber cement panels might offer them alternatives they didn’t even know they had.

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What do you like about the products you’re using?

Dealers can help builders find more helpful building solutions by asking about the products they choose and what they enjoy about them.

By asking builders what they like about the products they’re familiar with, dealers might also find that builders run into some common issues, even with time-tested brands and products. Allura representative Shannon explains how some of the most frequently used siding panels come with problems during installation:

“The boards have a physical indentation, one inch from the top down, so that it’s very clear for the installer where they’re supposed to put the nails. But they can't flip that board around, they can only nail the board up on the wall, in one direction.”

If something happens to that part of the panel, they can’t just turn the panel over and use it, which just adds to more waste in a project. Luckily, manufacturers like Allura recognize the need for more sustainable building materials (and installations) and have designed a panel that can be flipped and installed easily.

What about warranties?

You can help builders with product decisions by asking them about the warranties they’re working with: the warranty on their build and on the materials they’re using. Dealers can encourage builders to choose better products by looking at the life-cycle of the material.

“Unless your budget is extremely limited,” says architect and blogger Bill Hirsch, “I suggest you consider the ‘life-cycle cost’ method of analysis.” When it comes to the products used, homeowners and builders should look for long-term solutions. Hirsch tells homeowners that “[i]f you plan to own your house for more than a few years, you’ll want to consider the cost of building materials and building components in this way.”

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That goes for all of the materials used, from the siding panels to any trim products. Working with any of Allura’s fiber cement products (from siding to trim) means builders can offer a 50-year warranty to homeowners, to help guarantee long-term exterior solutions.

What kind of aesthetic are you after?

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Builders also need to find materials that achieve the kind of aesthetic homeowners are after, whether it’s a contemporary or classic look. But sometimes alternate solutions might be needed, if budget or time are constrained.

“Maybe your house needs the solid look of stone masonry … Stone masonry is slow to erect. And because it’s heavy, the higher up on the wall it goes, the more costly it gets. Is it worth the cost?” asks architect Bill Hirsch.

Dealers can make sure builders have all the solutions they need to create the perfect home. By understanding the products available, builders can often save time and crew hours on a project if they select the right materials.

Using pre-finished fiber cement panels can help save builders time on labor, and gives homeowners plenty of options for color and finish in their exterior design, whether they want the look of wood, stone or steel.

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Have you ever used fiber cement?

Fiber cement siding has been around for decades, and it’s evolved over the years into one of the most durable and dependable exterior solutions available. It can provide builders with a weather- and fire-resistant solution for home protection, even in areas of the country that are prone to flooding and severe storms.

Fiber cement is also a more cost-effective option for homeowners that want the look of wood or need a pop of color in their design since it comes in a wide variety of finishes.

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When dealers work with Allura, they’ll also be able to offer homeowners that 50-year warranty on any fiber cement products. Homeowners will get the home design they’re after and a look they’ll enjoy for as long as they live in the home.

Need help with your fiber cement installation?

Homes all across the country feature fiber cement siding, and there’s a reason it’s such a popular choice with homeowners.

“They want something unique, and yet, they still want recognizable forms whether their homes are traditional or contemporary,” reports Stacey Freed with Remodeling. “Those desires, coupled with increased homeowner and home builder demand for low-maintenance and durable products, offer a great platform for fiber cement.”

Dealers can win big points with builders by asking them straightforward questions about what they need, and by delivering top-quality service. And by choosing Allura products, builders can work directly with an installation specialist, should any issue arise on a project, at no cost.

By understanding the builder’s timeline, design preferences and experience, dealers can give contractors all the resources they need to help them complete their next build.

Click here for a few more ideas to help builders speed up (and smooth out) construction, or you can check out the Allura gallery to help inspire home design.

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