Choosing the right custom home builder can turn a dream into reality; hiring a bad custom home builder can turn a dream into a nightmare. So how does a prospective homeowner find the right custom home builder? Start by asking for recommendations from family and friends. A recommendation from someone who has actually used the builder is always better than an ad. Ask lenders and realtors who they would recommend.
They work with builders all the time and know who does a good job and who doesn’t. The National Association of Home Builders can offer a list of reputable members who operate in a prospective homeowners area. Finally, conduct an Internet search.
Once a prospective homeowner has narrowed their list of potential custom home builders down to three builders, it is time to conduct interviews. During the interview attempt to ascertain comparable projects the builder as completed, the builder’s organizational skills, and communication skills.
If the builder seems disorganized or doesn’t communicate well, they won’t be able to deal effectively with subcontractors or follow the flow of the project plan. A custom home builder is a project manager and that position requires an organized person who can communicate well to others.
Ask for sample documentation during the interview. The builder should offer a sample contract, budget, construction schedule, and warranty. Ask important questions regarding the builder’s mode of compensation, method used to price the home, and who will actually supervise the project. Meet the person who will actually supervise the construction of the home.
The builder may answer the questions to a prospective homeowners satisfaction, but if he has shifted the project onto someone else who doesn’t share his knowledge or skills the project may suffer. So always interview the person who will actually build the home. Don’t neglect to ask how the builder warranties the houses he has built. If something goes wrong, and it sometimes does, it will matter.
Last, ask for references and actually call and question them. What should you ask? Were the estimates accurate? Did the project come in on time and on budget? How did the builder interact with the customer? Did he answer calls and handle stress well? Did he use reputable and competent subcontractors? When checking references don’t forget to check with the Better Business Bureau and state licensing agencies. Also check the custom builder’s insurance and bond requirements and whether they have met them. Ask them for financial references as well. Avoid builders with poor credit and financial standing. They have bad credit for a reason–all of them bad. Once a prospective homeowner has done this legwork, they can make a confident custom builder selection and turn their dream into a reality.