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Building a Home

How to Choose a Custom Home Builder

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


There are MANY decisions when building a new home; one of the most important decisions is choosing your builder. Your relationship with your builder sets the tone for your entire building experience.

Below is an in-depth overview of how to choose a custom home builder. Also included is an explanation of what determines a GOOD builder as well as several questions you should be asking each potential 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 friends and family recommend as well as the builders they were NOT happy with.

Three important things to ask friends and family (or client references):

  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 issues that came up during the build?

If you are new to an area or don’t have any friends/family that have built a home locally, you can find builders through your local home builders association (search here).

Other great resources include local real estate agents and mortgage lenders. These professionals have experience with local home builders and typically know the reputation (whether good or bad) of each builder. Do make sure that the realtor or lender does NOT have a monetary relationship with a builder that could possibly sway his/her decision!

The bottom line … create your list of potential builders and interview ALL of them. Ask the same questions to each builder and write down all answers for later reference. Just by meeting with each builder, you’ll get a good sense of how you feel about them and how you think it would be to work with them.

Building a home is a lengthy and involved project, so you want to feel REALLY GOOD about your builder! Usually, the best decisions are made with your gut … so GO WITH YOUR GUT!


A reputable home builder will have a solid list of references who are happy with their completed homes and recommend the builder. A good builder will be patient and willing to answer all of your questions as thoroughly as possible. He/she won’t try to rush you or make you feel silly for asking questions.

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


  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
  5. Is unwilling to provide client references


NEVER be afraid to ask your builder (or potential builders) questions! Ask ANY and ALL questions that you need to be answered. Below are 15 questions to get you started. I imagine you might think of a few more!

  1. How many of your builds finish on time? What is a realistic timeframe for the completion of my home?
  2. How many of your homes come in over budget? What about under budget?
  3. Can you give me references from recent clients? Ask refs if they were happy with their experience with this builder and the quality of their completed home.
  4. Are there options in floor plans? How much customizing can be done?
  5. Do you build custom floor plans?
  6. What does your typical design/build process look like?
  7. Have you built similar homes in quality and style as I would like?
  8. What level of finishes do you include in your quote?
  9. How will you determine the final price of my home? What is included (and not included) in the quote?
  10. How are you compensated?
  11. How do you handle changes or upgrades during the building process?
  12. Who will supervise our project? How often will he/she be on site?
  13. Do you provide assistance for selecting design finishes? Can I choose finishes outside of your contracted companies?
  14. Are you licensed and insured?
  15. Do you offer a warranty program?



In this post, we covered: (1) how to choose a custom home builder, (2) what determines a GOOD builder, and (3) 15 questions you should be asking each potential builder. We also discussed some red flags to look out for when interviewing builders. I hope you now feel equipped to find the perfect builder for YOUR home :).

Wanna dive deeper? Download 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 a strategic plan to stick to your budget!


  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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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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