How to Choose a Good Custom Home Builder
Finding a custom home builder can be as easy as asking people around you. If there are some good ones in your area, you will probably hear people talking about them. Otherwise, check with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or any other similar association. Or the old-fashioned way should do – checking your yellow pages or visiting your town office and asking for referrals.
Narrowing Down Your List of Choices
Before choosing a custom home builder, it’s good to speak to several prospects. There are three things you want to accomplish during the interview process.
First off, make the builder understand exactly the type of home you want, and find out what kind of experience they have with similar projects or with projects in your target area.
Second, ask him about his general experience as a custom home builder. According to the NAHB, these are the things you should know about your prospects:
> Permanent physical office location (this is usually a sign of stabiilty)
> Reputation among suppliers and banks in the area
> Length and quality of industry experience
According to the NAHB, it often takes 3 to 5 years before home builders can establish themselves and their business; therefore, the longer they’ve been in the trade, the greater their ability to finance a home and remain after a home is built.
> Better Business Bureau record
> Level of workers compensation and general liability insurance (always ask for proof of insurance)
> Former customers’ feedback (ask for a few names of people you can call as references)
The third thing you should try to accomplish during the interviews is building rapport with your prospects. Obviously, this will be quite crucial. It can be excruciating to be forced to work with a builder you dislike.
Asking for Quotes
As soon as you have all the above information, you should be able to zero in on two or three names. This is always better than having one prospect, if only to make comparisons and see who shines. You can even tell these builders that you’re actually comparing their estimates. Usually, they will compete for your business and give you a cheaper estimate without changes in quality.
However, collecting estimates is something you really have to spend time for. You must be sure that your budget is just right for your needs – not too much that you’ll be spending unnecessarily, but not too small that quality will be compromised.
Definitely, your chosen builder should have all the important details they need to draw up an accurate. Lastly, do understand that no matter how good your builder is with estimates or which estimate you actually approved, there will always be at least a 10% overrun because of incidental expenses, such as change orders, can never be totally avoided.