How to Choose a Home Builder
If you would like to build a new home you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Whether you are buying a condo, a townhouse, a house in a subdivision, or a custom built house, you want to know that you are buying a good quality home from a reputable builder. Here are a couple of tips to help you choose a builder. If you're in the market for a newly built home, you should
Make a List of Possible Builders.
Once you have thought about the type of house you want, you will need to find a builder. By contacting your local home builders' association you will be able to obtain a list of registered builders who construct quality homes in your area. You can find your local HBA at nahb.org/findanhba.
Check the real estate section of you local newspaper for registered builders and projects. Researching, looking through ads and reading related articles can assist you to learn which builders are active in your area, the types of homes they are building, and the prices one could expect to pay. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations.I will also be able to help you in your search. Inquire about builders they may have dealt with directly, or ask for names of acquaintances that have recently had a good experience with a builder. Creating a list of reputable builders in your area to choose from, keeping what type of home you want to build and the price ranges in mind. Most importantly “Do Your Homework” and make educated decisions.
With your list created you will now need to verify reputations and quality of work and make those impostant comparisons!
Shop for Quality and Value
The best way to gauge quality is simply to visit homes they have built and talk to owners. Ask builders on your list for the addresses of their recently built homes and subdivisions. Builders may even be able to provide names of some home owners who would be willing to talk with you. Look at new homes whenever you can. Open houses and home shows sponsored by builders are excellent opportunities to further your knowledge. Model homes are often furnished to give you ideas for using the space. You may also ask a builder to see some of his unfurnished homes. When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features. Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, carpeting, trimwork, and paint. Ask the builder or the builder's representative a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. If you receive the answers verbally rather than in writing, take notes. Never hesitate to ask a question. What seems like an insignificant question might yield an important answer
Some questions you can ask are:
- Are you happy with your home?
- If you had any problems, where they the fixed promptly and properly?
- Would you buy another home from this builder?
- Have you had any other issues with the builder? Usually, people tell you if they are pleased with their homes. And if they are not, they'll probably want to tell you why.
Take notes to record the information you find and your personal impressions about specific builders and homes. This will help you make those important comparisons later.
The Building Contract:
Once you have selected the best builder for your requirements you will have to enter into a contract. It is vital that you fully understand the contract.
- You will be party to a contract involving enormous amounts of money. Once you sign on the dotted line for the construction of your home you will be legally bound by the contract.
- You will more often than not be paying this home off over a period of 25 – 30 years so reading and understanding the contract cannot be stressed enough.
- Remember you will ultimately be paying for the builder’s knowledge, experience and ability over the years not to mention the building materials you have selected.
- Communicate – write down – communicate – write down – communicate – write down. If you add anything to the house after the contract is signed the builder must keep track of it assiduously! Anything deleted or reduced you must keep track of assiduously!
top of page
Save on Building Costs
You pay for each and every square foot of space in your house, be it occupied, usable, or otherwise. If the cost is $50, $85, or $110 per square foot, "extra", unused, vacant and unnecessary area is provided at the very same cost.
- Keep costs in perspective. Building materials like bricks and tiles are sold n bulk and are if you decide to select an item $10 more expensive can equate to a large increase in the cost.
- An average home contains approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. Do you need more if so why and how much more?
- Don’t be over influenced by friends the builder, or magazines. Good basic construction are key-- don't trade them for lesser construction. Bouncy floors (where joists are stretched to the maximum) are not remedied by a hot tub, flocked wall covering, skylights, or jazzy door hardware.
Check Building Codes
You must expect your substantially built house to free of defects. It must be in accord with all applicable codes and regulations. You may request proof of such compliance. Many jurisdictions issue Certificates of Occupancy at the closing of your mortgage. This certificate indicates that the minimum code and safety standards have been met.
Understand that some things are virtually unchangeable, and that they should be done properly the first time. This includes the construction of the foundation system for properly size and a properly designed and installed structural system. Don’t focus on changeable items such as finishes, coverings, etc. That should not distract you from watching for and requiring good basic construction.
- Watch out for things that are not necessarily what you want or will not be able to be changed cheaply or easily.
- When things don’t look right question them. Most of the time they are NOT right!
- You may also seek some reliable outside, impartial advice.
You must be prepared to compromise and resolve situations and problems fast and efficiently, but always be aware of what you may be relinquishing in the process. Examine and understand both sides and is the situation worth what you are losing?
- Most builders are fully capable of doing anything you wish but, this will usually always come with a price. So be weary of unique, inordinate, far-out requests, new technology and untested materials and equipment.
- Appreciate that construction is an imperfect science and that it combines with natural elements like weather, wood members, human error and site conditions and that means that things could change, must be changed, or simply exceed capabilities.
- Know that flat-out errors do happen. Absolute perfection or your idea of perfection may not and more than likely will not be achieved. It is within your rights to require that drastic imperfections must be corrected, and they should be.
- Your relationship with your builder is just as an important factor. More often than not he will go the extra mile for you if you have that unique rapport. Remember, he is the professional and you and you’re family’s safety is in his capable hands.
Building your own home should be a good experience, if you are dealing with the right people. Research and proper selection are in your hands and ultimately you will determine what the experience is like. Diligence and scrutiny are tangible high quality investments you place into your future living conditions. Don’t accept anything less than what you put in, within reason!
top of page