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Podcast

How to Choose a Custom Home Builder

Published on:

9/28/22

written by:

Carrie Barker

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Welcome back to the Before You Build Podcast! I’m your host, Carrie Barker (a.k.a. Caroline on Design), and today in episode 13, I’m going to give you an in-depth overview of how to choose a custom home builder to build your dream home.

 

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There are MANY decisions when building a new home and one of the *most* important decisions you’ll make is choosing your builder because your relationship with your builder sets the tone for your entire home build experience.

In this episode, we’ll talk about how to choose your custom home builder, what determines a good builder, and 10 questions you should ask EVERY potential builder you interview.

How to Choose a Custom Home Builder

HOW TO CHOOSE A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER

So … how do you choose a custom builder (or just a builder, in general … it doesn’t have to be a custom builder)?

The best way to choose a builder is to ask local friends and family who have built a home in the area. Create a list of builders that your friends and family recommend as well as any builders they were NOT happy with and/or had a negative experience with. 

When you’re talking to friends and family (or client references) about builders, there are three very important questions you should be asking:

  1. Did your builder help you stay on budget?
  2. How was the communication with your builder?
  3. How did the builder handle and fix any issues that came up during or after the build?

The answers to these three questions are pretty crucial in helping you choose a builder that can successfully help you bring your dream home to life. 

WHAT IF YOU DON’T KNOW ANYONE WHO HAS BUILT A HOME?

If you’re new to an area or you don’t have any friends or family that have built a home locally, you can start finding builders through a simple Google search or through your local home builders association. 

Also, local real estate agents and mortgage lenders can be great resources in helping you find a builder. Realtors and lenders typically have some experience with local home builders and they tend to know the reputation (whether good or bad) of each builder. 

If you do go this route and get a referral from a real estate agent or a mortgage lender, do make sure that the realtor or lender does NOT have a monetary relationship with a builder because this could possibly sway their recommendation. 

In other words, if someone receives a commission for referring a certain builder, be sure to do your due diligence and learn all you can about that builder before making a decision.

AFTER CREATING A LIST, WHAT’S NEXT?

You interview ALL of them. Ask the same questions to each builder and write down the answers for later reference so you can compare and contrast. 

You’ll get a good sense of how you feel about each builder and how you think it would be to work with them just by meeting with them face-to-face (in-person or via Zoom).

Building a home is a lengthy and involved project, so you want to feel REALLY GOOD about your builder because you are going to spend A LOT of time with them. 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD HOME BUILDER?

What makes a good home builder? Obviously, this is subject to interpretation, BUT …

A reputable home builder will usually have a solid list of references who are happy with their completed homes and highly recommend the builder. 

Also, a good builder will be patient and willing to answer all of your questions as thoroughly as possible. They won’t try to rush you or make you feel silly for asking questions.

On the other hand, there are some red flags for you to look out for when interviewing potential builders.

BUILDER RED FLAGS

  1. requires a large deposit upfront
  2. uses high-pressure sales tactics 
  3. provides an unreasonably low quote
  4. doesn’t provide a contract for you to sign, and/or
  5. is unwilling to provide client references

Just remember that the best decisions are usually made with your gut … so GO WITH YOUR GUT when choosing the best builder for your project.

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK A HOME BUILDER

Now let’s talk about some questions that you should be asking any builder that you interview. 

NEVER be afraid to ask your builder (or potential builders) questions! Ask ANY and ALL questions that you need to be answered. And like I said, if your builder gives you push-back, that can be a red flag.

I’m going to get you started with 10 questions and I imagine you’ll think of a few more as we go through this list. (Psst … I include an entire questionnaire for your builder interviews inside my Building Your Foundation private home build program).

QUESTIONS TO ASK POTENTIAL BUILDERS

  1. How many of your builds finish on time? 
  2. What is a realistic timeframe for the completion of my home? 
  3. How many of your homes come in over budget? What about under budget?
  4. Do you build custom floor plans? If not, how much customizing can be done to semi-custom floor plans?
  5. What does your typical design/build process look like?
  6. What level of finishes do you include in your price quote?
  7. How will you determine the final price of my home? What is included (and not included) in the quote?
  8. How do you handle changes or upgrades during the building process?
  9. Who will supervise our project? How often will they be on site?
  10. Do you provide assistance in selecting design finishes? Can I choose finishes outside of your contracted companies?

NEXT STEPS

In this episode, we covered: (1) how to choose a custom home builder, (2) what determines a GOOD builder, and (3) 10 questions you should be asking every single potential builder that you interview. We also discussed some red flags to look out for when interviewing builders.

I truly hope you found this episode valuable as you prepare to choose the best builder for YOUR project. If you did find it helpful and you want to dive deeper into preparing for a successful home build, download a copy of my *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide and learn the five crucial steps to prepare for a home build with less stress, more confidence, and without blowing your budget.

    • Crystal S says:

      Hi Carrier thank you for the great podcast.
      Im interested in the complete questionnaire. Is there a way to get it?( I’m not interested in buying the whole course because I tend to do production Home build)

  1. […] RECOMMENDED POST: HOW TO CHOOSE A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER […]

  2. […] budget and you’ve chosen your type of build (i.e. custom vs. production home), it’s time to choose your builder (and an architect if […]

  3. You made a good point that having options for floor plans would be a good question to ask a custom home builder. My husband is a musician so for our new house, there definitely should be space for a studio room where he could play his music. Perhaps, we should also get the room soundproofed during construction.

  4. […] I recommend choosing your custom builder first. […]

  5. Greta James says:

    For the last couple of months, my husband and I have been thinking that we want to create our dream home since our kids are all grown and moved out. Thank you so much for the advice to avoid a builder that uses high-pressure tactics because this is your home and you should feel comfortable with everything you decide. We are excited to start this journey; we will have to follow your advice as we look for the perfect custom home builders and designers.

  6. […] anyone locally who has built a home and you need more ideas of where to start with your list, read ‘How to Choose a Custom Home […]

  7. Timberstone Homes says:

    Great, It is such a nice article. If you are looking for realtors in lafayette Indiana, it’s the perfect time to get in touch with the Timberstones homes. We offer quality custom homes at affordable prices. For more information, visit the website https://timberstone-homes.com

  8. Olivia Smart says:

    I liked your suggestion to ask them about being able to do custom floor plans. My husband and I have been thinking about building a custom home for our retirement. We’ll be sure to talk to him about this to see if it’s a possibility for our home. https://sdshomes.com/custom-home-builder/

  9. […] As Minnesotans, talking about money can feel tricky. But take it from us. You want to know what you’re getting into before signing that contract.  […]

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