How To Select A Builder For Your Custom Home



How To Select A Builder For Your Custom Home

How To Select A Builder

If you are contemplating building a custom home, there are many decisions you’ll need to make along the way. One of the very first decisions, and arguably the most important, is who will actually be in charge of the construction. Hiring a professional custom-home builder with a good reputation in your community is a good first step.

In my twenty-plus years of building custom homes, one thing I’ve noticed is that most people approach this in one of two ways. The first is by talking to several builders and getting bids, and the second is pre-selecting a builder based on reputation and recommendations from friends or associates.

You should keep in mind that a completed house can be very different depending on who the actual builder is. Each builder will likely have a different standard for what quality of materials and work are acceptable, and as a result this often leads to very different completed home. A common misconception is that the local building department will be making periodic inspections that will ensure the home is being built properly. The fact is there are still many locations around the country that either don’t have inspections at all, or if they do inspections, they are not very thorough. The bottom line is there is no building authority that will make any guarantees on a residential building under their jurisdiction; this is solely the responsibility of the builder or property owner.

If you feel confident in knowing which materials are appropriate and how they should be correctly installed, as well as what the minimum standard for quality of work should be, then basing your decision on price alone might work out for you. This is not the route I would recommend, though, because I think this approach often leads to problems with either the builder or the home, and sometimes they turn out to be very serious. An online search will quickly help you understand how frequently major problems occur when building a home. The old saying really is true: “You get what you pay for.”

If you do decide to go the route of seeking competitive bids, it’s imperative that you ask for references and then take the time to check them. Ask each reference if they experienced any problems with their home, and what the builder did to address those problems. Find out if the builder was receptive to their ideas and easy to work with, and especially how well they were able to communicate throughout the entire building process. You should eliminate any builder whose reference is not ready to emphatically recommend them.

I feel the second approach is better. Pre-selecting a builder based on reputation and on recommendations from friends and associates should help you to feel confident in your choice from the very beginning. You should be able to see examples of his work, and find out first hand what to expect. Your builder will feel your commitment to him or her, and this fosters a real partnership between builder and home owner. This is important because it leads to better communication and better results.

If your expectations are to build a home that has all custom features and personal touches you dreamed of, while being as trouble free as possible for many years to come, then pre-selecting your builder and then partnering with him/her from the very beginning is key. Yes, you are probably going to spend more money initially by going this route, but hiring a builder who will use quality materials that are installed by the best workers in your area will almost certainly lead to a lower overall cost of owning and maintaining your home.

Whichever route you go–competitive bids or pre-selection–make sure that your builder is licensed in your state, and that he/she carries worker compensation insurance, and comprehensive general liability insurance in an amount great enough to cover the total loss of your home. Decide upfront who will be responsible for providing the builders risk insurance to cover the home during construction. If the builder provides the insurance be sure and obtain proof and then make sure it stays in effect until the home is completed.

Building your dream home should be a time of excitement and anticiPation, but it can also be a stressful time with all the decisions that have to be made. Hiring the right builder who is committed to guiding you through the building process will make building your new home less stressful and help to ensure that your expectations are met.


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