How to Choose a Good Custom Home Builder
Finding a custom home builder can be as easy as asking people around you. If there’s a good one in your area, most probably, you will hear about them. Otherwise, check the website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), where they have a searchable directory. Or the old-fashioned way should do – checking your yellow pages or visiting your town office and asking for referrals.
Narrowing Down Your Prospects
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 of all, tell the builder what exact type of home you’d like him to make for you, and ask him how much experience he has with similar projects and in the area you want your home to be built.
Second, ask for more information regarding his professional experience. The NAHB says these are the most important things you’d like to know about your prospects:
> Permanent physical office location (this is usually a sign of stabiilty)
> Reputation with suppliers and banks in the community
> Length and quality of industry experience
The NAHB reports it takes 3-5 years for custom home builders to gain ground in the industry; thus, the longer their business experience, the more capable they are of financing a home construction and the more likely they will stay around after completing a project.
> Better Business Bureau ratings and record
> Level of workers compensation and general liability insurance (always ask for proof of insurance)
> Feedback of former clients (request for client references)
The third goal you’d like to work on is building rapport with your prospects. This is going to be rather crucial obviously. It can be excruciating to be forced to work with a builder you dislike.
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 having one prospect, if only to make comparisons and see who shines. You can even be honest with them and tell them you’re comparing their quotes. 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 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.
Certainly, you should provide your chosen builder all the information they need to come up with a valid or accurate estimate. 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.