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.
HOW TO CHOOSE A CUSTOM HOME 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):
- Did your builder help you stay on budget?
- How was the communication with your builder?
- How did the builder handle and fix any 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 (nahb.org/findanhba). 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!
WHAT MAKES A GOOD HOME BUILDER?
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, here are some red flags for you to look out for when interviewing potential builders. STEER CLEAR OF ANY BUILDER THAT:
- requires a large deposit upfront
- uses high-pressure sales tactics
- provides an unreasonably low quote
- doesn’t provide a contract for you to sign
- is unwilling to provide client references
15 GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK A HOME BUILDER
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!
- How many of your builds finish on time? What is a realistic timeframe for the completion of my home? What is your timeline for building a production home? What is your timeline for building a custom home?
- How many of your homes come in over budget? What about under budget?
- Can you give me references from recent clients? Ask refs if they are happy with their experience with the builder and the quality of their completed home. Also, ask refs if the builder was prompt and thorough in addressing any issues or problems.
- Are there options in floor plans? Do you build custom floor plans?
- How much customizing can be done?
- What does your typical design/build process look like?
- Have you built similar homes in quality and style as I would like? Are you comfortable building the style and quality of home I would like?
- What level of finishes do you include in your price quote?
- How will you determine the final price of my home? What is included (and not included) in the quote?
- How are you compensated?
- How do you handle changes or upgrades during the building process?
- Who will supervise our project? How often will he/she be on site?
- Do you provide assistance for selecting design finishes? Can I choose finishes outside of your contracted companies?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you offer a warranty program?
Recommended Post: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A PRODUCTIVE FIRST MEETING WITH YOUR BUILDER
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.
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