Tips on Choosing a Quality Home Builder

Building a new home can be exciting as well as challenging and may be one of the biggest investments you make in a lifetime. The decision the build a house is a big decision. Compared to buying a pre-existing home, it takes a lot of work, dedication and planning, but it also has many advantages. You can build the home you want and get all the features that you have always wanted in a home. Your home is one of your most valuable assets - financially and emotionally.

Selecting the right builder is a key step in the journey that leads to your dream home. Finding the right builder is not a decision you should take lightly. They are responsible for building your home and making your ideas and concepts come to life. You shouldn't compromise; select a builder who is easy to work with and can guarantee you the best results. Many contractors have the skill to do your project, but there is so much more to consider when selecting a quality builder. 

Here are a few tips for finding a quality builder.

  • Builder's Reputation: The reputation of a builder is very important. It is good idea to read as many reviews as possible. See if the builder has built homes similar to what you are looking for and get a sense of their overall reputation within the industry and with previous customer. An established builder has extensive buying power, resources and the know-how to provide customers with great quality, service and value for money.

  • Compatibility: Your project can take days or months to complete, so you want to find a builder who you can work closely with, someone who can be a partner throughout the process. To ensure success, you'll want someone who is detailed oriented, will keep a tight rein on the project to avoid cost overruns  is a good listener to your ideas and concerns, and someone you feel comfortable with the trust.

  • Fixed Prices: Don't let builders dazzle you with the cheapest estimate they can put in front of you. When shopping around, ensure you are making as direct a comparison as possible. Beware contracts with a long list of 'estimates' and 'TBA's'. To avoid a blowout in costs, ask for a fixed price. Leave no stone unturned and ensure you have information about every cost. Keep an eye out for clauses such as 'pending soil test'.

  • Experience Cannot Be Overlooked: Experience is important, especially if you are looking to build a custom home. You want to take peace of mind in knowing that your builder has the experience and the resources to during your idea into a reality. You want a builder that will offer ideas and work with you to produce the best home possible.

  • Build Time: If you are building a single storey home, the entire process will take around 56 weeks. So don't be fooled by builders who promise an unrealistic build time!

  • Communication: It is vital to outcome of your project. Find out how your builder will interact most efficiently with you - by phone, emails, in person. How are problems or changes handled? What is the timeline of when you need to make choices? A qualified builder should provide you with a written contract that specifically mentions the work schedule, change order policies, and payment schedule. To protect you, insurance related clauses and guarantees should also be included in the contract. If there is lack of communication, a successful, stress-free, and satisfying project is unlikely.

  • Get A Detailed Estimation: Before you commit to a home builder, get an estimate that outlines exactly what work is to be done, the materials to be used, the start and completion dates, how and when the home builder will be paid, and all the details regarding every other aspect of the project. If you're confused, ask for clarification. Every step should be transparent and easy to understand.

  • Shop For Quality and Value: Look at new homes whenever you can. Home shows and open houses sponsored by builders are good opportunities to look at homes. Model homes and houses displayed in home shows are often furnished to give you ideas for using the space. You may also ask a builder to see unfurnished homes.

    When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features. Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, carpeting, trim-work, 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.

  • Promotions & Display Homes: Watch out for builder promotions offering big discounts and bonus inclusions. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is. Look for real value. Don't be distracted by extravagant display homes. Some builders won't even construct many of the impressive features they have on show within their displays.

    Visit their display homes, but more importantly visit a couple of homes under construction. Builders who build displays put a lot of effort into making that home amazing. Some however, let the standards slip a little when it comes to their non-display homes. Ask if they will build the home 'as displayed' and provide you with a fully itemised cost.

  • Quality & Cost: Try to go see a project completed by the prospective builder, notice the quality of the construction features that are similar to your project. Inspect the carpentry, Sheetrock, paint, cabinetry, and trim work. Details matter, you will be able to measure what kind of quality you will be getting for your money. Also ensure that the best brand materials you can afford will be used.

    Compare "apple to apple" costs of several builders. Some builders may undercut others by making substitutions that only a very experienced person would recognize. Make sure you know what you will be spending up front so you can make an informed choice. Whether it's a remodeling, addition or custom new home project, you need a builder who has a great reputation, who you feel comfortable with, stays within budget and communicates well with you.

  • Make Sure They Are Legit: Before agreeing to anything, make sure the builder is properly licensed, has proper insurance in place and offers warrant and service plans that are comparable to others in the industry. Ask your builder to see his certificate showing that he is up to date and fully covered with liability and damage insurance. Different areas use different names for their insurance - check with the local HBA for standard coverage requirements.

  • The BackyardSome builders will create a level home site on your block for the house, but leave the backyard steep and un-useable. A good builder will consider your needs more carefully - a user friendly backyard is important for lifestyle.

So when it comes to choosing a builder - it's important to note that price isn't everything. If they're cheap but they take a long time to build and give you nothing but heartache all the way through, you would have been far better off choosing a different builder.

Congratulations on your decision to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Happy Building!

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