Finding the Right Custom Home Builder for You
Finding a custom home builder can be as easy as asking people around you. If there are some good prospects in your locality, you will likely hear about them from different people. Otherwise, check the website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), where they have a searchable directory. Or do it the traditional way by looking up prospects in your yellow pages or asking your town office for referrals.
Narrowing Down Your Prospects
It’s good to interview several prospects before choosing the right builder for you. Aim for three things during the interview process.
First, make sure the builder understands the type of custom home you want, and that he has experience building similar homes or building homes in your desired area.
Second, you’d like to know more about his general experience as a home builder. The NAHB says these are the most important things you’d like to know about your prospects:
> Permanent business location (having one is a sign of stability)
> Reputation with local suppliers and banks
> 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. This is obviously very important. It will be extremely difficult to work with a builder you don’t like, especially if you’re very particular about details.
Asking for Estimates
After getting all the above information, you can now trim down your list of prospects to two or three names. This is always better than just having one prospect so you can compare them and see who’s best. You can even be honest with them and tell them you’re comparing their quotes. They will compete for your business and you may end up with a cheaper quote for the same quality.
Collecting estimates though is something you really have to take your time with. You have to be sure that your budget is just enough – not too small that results will be compromised, and not too big that you’ll be wasting money on unnecessary things.
Definitely, your chosen builder should have all the important details they need to draw up an accurate. Lastly, note that whatever budget you approve, you should always expect at least a 10% overrun, given that incidentals (for example, change orders) can never be completely avoided.